Last week many questions arose regarding the impediment of pilgrims’ access to Dadivank.
Erit.am had an interview with Father Andreas Tavadyan, the pastor of Artsakh diocese and former pastor of the Saint Holly Savoir Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, and prepared a small guide for all those who want to visit Dadivank but don’t know how to do it.
“Initially, through the efforts of the Catholicos, an agreement was reached with Moscow to at least preserve Dadivank as our spiritual center after surrenderring of the territories. According to the agreement we should have a permanent spiritual service there. Priests were sent from both the Mother See and Artsakh, and now 6-7 clergymen reside there permanently,” tells Father Andreas.
According to him, a letter was later written to Rustam Muradov from the Artsakh diocese, requesting from the Russian peacekeepers to ensure access for the pilgrims to conduct religious services in Dadivank. At first, the pilgrimages were organized every two weeks, then Muradov himself suggested that they should be held every Sunday.
Why and how has the order of pilgrimage changed
A few days ago, when the Azerbaijani side banned the entry of Armenians to Dadivank, it turned out that the order of organizing the pilgrimage has undergone certain changes.
“The Azerbaijanis made a condition that every Sunday we must present them a complete list of pilgrims with their names, surnames, and passport details by the evening of previous Tuesday, but no later than on Wednesday morning. The data is transmitted via the Russians. This requirement also refers to the citizens of the Republic of Armenia. Every week, 25 to 30 people can take part in the pilgrimage. In case there are a lot of people wishing to participate in the liturgy, we will try to increase this number for the next quarter, " says priest Andreas Tavadyan.”
At the request of Azerbaijan, the presence of journalists and foreign citizens is banned in Dadivank
The priest explains that everything ran smoothly before Christmas. Then a wedding ceremony was held in Dadivank on December 27 with the participation of about 100 people instead of 30, which “irritated the Azerbaijanis a little bit”. Father Andreas believes that this was the reason for the tension.
“The next incident happened at Christmas, when we decided to visit with about 75 people. The number of people wishing to take part in the Christmas Liturgy in Dadivank was great. However, in Stepanakert Square the Russians stopped us. So we sent the cars back and only two of the four buses set off carrying 35 pilgrims,” tells the priest.
How to take part in the Sunday pilgrimage to Dadivank
To participate in the Sunday pilgrimage, those who wish can contact the priests of the two Churches of Stepanakert - Father Minas or Father Nerses․The application should be submitted by Monday, as the final lists of pilgrims must be submitted to the Azerbaijani side by the Russian peacekeepers on Tuesday evening.
“On Sunday morning, we gather in Stepanakert Square and take the citizens to Dadivank by bus.The Russian peacekeepers accompany during this period. The inspection is performed at the Azerbaijani checkpoint after Charektar. Previously there was no inspection, but now it is carried out. The only stop is in Dadivank. When we reach Dadivank, we hold a liturgy there. Liturgy is held every Sunday, with no exception. Azerbaijanis are not there, the entire territory of Dadivank is guarded by the Russians. After the liturgy we return. Shooting during this time is prohibited. You can take pictures of the churchyard or the liturgy for personal use only. Mass shootings are not allowed. Moreover, no shooting is allowed at the checkpoint,” explains the priest.
It should be noted that Dadivank is one of the ancient Christian monasteries of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Dadivank was first mentioned in bibliography in the 9th century. According to tradition, the church was founded in the 1st century by Daddy, one of Christ's apostles, Thaddeus. During the excavations carried out as part of the restoration activities in Dadivank, on July 21, 2007, the remains of the apostle Saint Dade were found under the altar of one of the churches of the monastery complex.
The monastery is located on the territory of Karvachar district, which, according to the trilateral statement, came under the control of Azerbaijan in November 2020.
Article by Yana Shakhramanyan