On Oct. 25, St. James Armenian Church in downtown Evanston will unveil the installation of a traditional khachkar – literally cross (khach) stone (kar). His Eminence Khajag Barsamian, Archbishop of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, will consecrate this uniquely Armenian monument in honor of the canonization of the more than 1.5 million martyrs of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The canonization occurred earlier this year. The consecration ceremony will take place at the conclusion of the special episcopal Divine Liturgy that begins at 10 a.m.
The khachkar monument, standing more than 10 feet tall in St. James’ front garden, was carved out of tuff stone in Armenia this summer and then shipped to Evanston. The art of carving khachkars dates back to the 4th century and today, among other things, symbolizes the rebirth of Armenian culture after centuries of hardship. Though there are thousands of khachkars around the world, no two are alike. St. James’ khachkar was commissioned by the parish and paid for through donations by dozens of individuals and families in the community in the name of loved ones both living and deceased.
The St. James parish will also mark the occasion by celebrating its 70th anniversary as a testimony to Armenians’ presence in the greater Chicago community.