On Sunday, February 19, 2017, members of the local Merrimack Valley "Arakadz" Lodge # 35 of the Knights of Vartan were on hand to speak about St. Vartan Mamigonian and the heroic Vartanants Battles against the Persians in the fifth century.
Known as the Battle of Avarayr, St. Vartan the Warrior and his 1,036 commanders leading over 60,000 brave men into battle, fought to preserve the Christian faith for the Armenian people and with it, the fledgling Armenian language, culture and identity. Although they were defeated during that campaign, which was fought for several days in May of 451 A.D., subsequent developments led to the signing of the Treaty of Nuvarsag in 484, wherein the Armenians were left to practice our faith and preserve our unique identity in peace.
Such a pivotal moment in the history of our nation was the Battle of Avarayr, that scholars, historians, religious and lay leaders have rightly recognized it throughout the centuries as a cause for observance, celebration and rededication to the faith and cultural legacy of our forefathers.
The Knights of Vartan began as a men's fraternal organization in 1916. It's aim was and and still is to help the Armenian Motherland morally and financially, bring awareness to the Armenian Genocide and the plight of Armenians in the homeland and in the Diasporan communities and to help place dedicated Armenian men of faith and character into leadership roles in the Armenian Church and communal organizations.
The local Merrimack Valley Lodge in its present form dates back to the 1950's and draws its membership from a wide spectrum of the Merrimack Valley's Armenian Churches and organizations. Several of St. Gregory's parishioners, including our pastor, Fr. Stephan Baljian (as well as before him Fr. Vartan Kassabian of blessed memory), belong to the Lodge and try earnestly to bring their service, support, leadership and participation to all aspects of our religious, cultural, political and humanitarian life.
On hand that day for the presentation were current Commander of the Lodge (Sbarabed) Denis Hamboyan and members Arthur Fundeklian, who is a first cousin of the late Tom Vartabedian and also father-in-law of parishioner Ara Kitabjian (who is also a Knight). Sb. Denis Hamboyan spoke about the history of St. Vartan and the heroic battle against the Persians, while Arthur Fundeklian wrapped up the presentation with some remarks about the Knights of Vartan organization and the work that it has done in Armenia and throughout the Diaspora.
After a brief question and answer session, Der Stephan thanked the two representatives for being with us that day and offered his closing remarks the Vartanants saints and the Knights of Vartan organization.