Shut down in 1915, the Üç Horan church in Malatya laid dilapidated. Local authorities contributed to its renovation with public funds. The place of worship is located in the neighbourhood where the late journalist Hrant Dink grew up. He was killed in 2007. The church will see Masses, weddings and baptisms, but also serve as a cultural centre.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The Armenian Christian community celebrated a Mass for the first time in 106 years in a church in Malatya, eastern Turkey.
The place of worship is located in a neighbourhood where murdered journalist Hrant Dink grew up. The editor-in-chief of the Agos weekly was shot in front of the paper’s offices in Istanbul, in January 2007.
The official reopening ceremony was held last Saturday in the presence of the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Sahak Maşalyan, Metropolitan Bishop Ğriğoriyos Melki Ürek of Adıyaman, the deputy patriarch and local civil authorities from.
Closed in 1915, the Üç Horan church was inaccessible for over a century and was in dilapidated state until recently, so much so that it was feared that it might collapse.
HAY-DER, a Malatya-based Armenian cultural organisation, was able to restore the church and the baptistery to their ancient splendor.
Now, the local Armenian Christian community can use it to celebrate religious services, including masses, baptisms and weddings. When not used for worship, it will serve as a cultural centre.
The local administration contributed to the restoration work with public funds.
In his address, Patriarch Maşalyan called the reopening "a milestone for this region" and, for Armenians in particular, “a day of feast”.
Nuran Gezdirici, president of the Malatya Philanthropist Armenians Culture and Solidarity Association, said that she took “great pride” in restoring “Üç Horan, or Taş Horan as our Muslim neighbours call it”.
In her address, the Armenian leader paid tribute to journalist Hrant Dink who “grew up two streets away from the church”.
The first function after more than a century was attended by representatives of Armenian communities from across Turkey, who travelled to Matalya to share in a day of celebration.
This comes after recent episodes of anti-Christian intolerance, the last of which saw the desecration of graves and tombstones in a cemetery in Van province.
After the inauguration on Saturday, Church leaders celebrated the first Sunday liturgy yesterday.