Six students from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ visited the Zohrab Center yesterday as part of the requirements for a theology course.
The students were accompanied by their teacher, Dr. Susan Graham, Associate Professor of Theology at St. Peter’s. Dr. Graham’s course, entitled Pilgrimage in the City, explores the phenomenon of pilgrimage—travel undertaken to a meaningful destination for religious or sacred purposes—in Christian history, theology and spirituality. The students’ visit to the Zohrab Center and St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral qualified as a pilgrimage destination in its own right, but also afforded the “pilgrims” the opportunity to deepen their appreciation for the unique role of pilgrimage in the history and spirituality of the Armenian Church.
ZIC Director Fr. Daniel Findikyan gave a brief survey of the centrality of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a cherished destination for Armenian pilgrims since at least the fourth century. He also spoke about the revival of pilgrimage, especially among young people, to sacred shrines within the Republic of Armenia today.
The Zohrab Center recently received a dozen early issues of the Armenian periodical Zvartnots. The journal of literature and art was published intermittently in Paris from 1929 to 1964. The precious issues were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Sylvia of Boyajian of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
The Zohrab Center is the only library in the United States to hold these issues.
Zvartnots contains original poems, short stories, essays, literary criticism and articles on aspects of Armenian arts and music by Armenian authors. As well, the reader will discover Armenian translations of noted non-Armenian authors of the day. Among the contributors were some of the giants of twentieth century Armenian literature and art including Vahan Tekeyan, Arshag Chobanyan, Hagop Oshagan, Yeghishe Charents, Shahan Shanhur, Shavarsh Nartuni, Nvart Kalpakian, Nigoghos Sarafian, Gurgen Mahari,and a host of mysterious pen-names.
Alongside marvelous poems and short literary pieces, the inaugural issue features an Armenian translation of an essay by the Austrian philosopher and novelist Stefan Zweig; an article on pre-Christian Armenian architecture by the great historian of architecture Toros Toromanian; and a tribute to Franz Schubert on the hundredth anniversary of his death by a very young Ara Bartevian, who would later become a well-known musician, composer and choral conductor.
Indeed, in the preface to the first issue of Zvartnots, the editor, Hrant Paluian, stresses that the new journal would be “the refuge for those young people who have been held captive to the aged caretakers of our literature.” True to the secularism of the moment, he continues sardonically:
The residents of Zvartnots, with angelic innocence, have been purified of political passions, partisan enmities and ridiculous heresies. They have been purged of religious and moral prejudices. They believe only in Armenian literature and art.
The word Zvartnots derives from the Armenian zvartunk, literally, “vigilant ones,” the angels who serve God joyfully and tirelessly, and who serve as models of the Christian life. The name was given to the famous seventh-century round church in Etchmiadzin, the ruins of which can be seen today.
The Zohrab Center’s new issues of this marvelous testament to Armenian intellectual vitality between the World Wars in Europe have been added to the ZIC online catalogue. Anyone interested in perusing them is welcome to visit the Center or to contact the staff for questions and further assistance.
Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Information Center and Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary (New Rochelle, NY) will present a lecture entitled: How Armenians Pray: Glimpses into the Heart of an Ancient Christian Spirituality in the Seabury Auditorium of General Theological Seminary in New York on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 7PM.
In his lecture, which is co-sponsored by St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, Fr. Findikyan will speak about the spirit, ethos and peculiarities of Armenian liturgical and devotional prayer, and he will consider what insights Armenian Christianity might hold for all who seek meaningful faith today.
General Theological Seminary is located at 440 W. 21st Street (between 9th and 10th Ave.). The public is invited. A wine and cheese reception will follow. For further information contact St. Nersess at (914) 636-2003, email email@example.com, or see the Seminary’s website.
Noted art historian Dr. Sylvie Merian of The Morgan Library in New York will speak at the Zohrab Center on Wednesday, April 9 at 7PM on the topic, Dutch Woodcut Art in the Earliest Armenian Printed Books: A Book Detective Unravels the Mysteries.
Dr. Merian has been researching early Armenian books printed in Constantinople in the Zohrab Information Center’s rich rare book collection, especially focusing on woodcut illustrations in religious books produced by Armenian artists. (Click here for a recent exposé of her research on this blog).
Many of the compositions for these illustrations were modeled after western European prints that found their way to Ottoman Turkey and Savafid Iran during the 17-18th centuries in richly-illustrated books printed in Armenian, Latin, and other European languages.
Through countless hours of what she calls “book-looking,” Merian has identified many of the exact prints used by Armenian artists as models. Many of these were Dutch woodcuts.
The illustrations provided inspiration not only for Armenian woodcut artists, but also for Armenian silversmiths (who used them as imagery for silver plaques used on religious books), manuscript artists, and even painters of wall paintings in churches of New Julfa, an Armenian suburb of Isfahan, Iran. New Christian iconography and decorative motifs were thereby disseminated in various media throughout the region, and a number of examples have been found in the Zohrab Center’s remarkable early book collection.
Dr. Merian will show numerous examples from the orginal European illustrations, the adapted versions by Armenian artists, and their later adoption for use in non-book media.
The presentation will take place at the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY. A discussion and reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
Four recent films concerning Armenia, Armenians, and contemporary issues concerning them will be part of the Socially Relevant Film Festival at the Quad Cinema in New York from March 14-20, 2014. To see the entire slate of movies, dates and times, and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.ratedsrfilms.org or call the QUAD Cinema (212) 255-2243.
The four Armenian films are:
- If Only Everyone. A young woman’s search for her soldier father’s grave sets off events that lead to forgiveness—of oneself and of “the other.”
- Orphans of the Genocide. An emotional visual journey through never before seen archival footage and discovered memoirs of orphans.
- Hamshen at the Crossroads of Past and Present. Dedicated to the current state of the descendants of the Islamicized Armenians of Hamshen.
- Bavakan. The horror of gender selection and abortion in contemporary Armenia.