The Holy Cross
Khachverats is the last of the five feasts of the Armenian Church. It is the most important of the holidays dedicated to the Cross, because it is dedicated to the memory of the return and glorification of the cross from captivity.
In the Armenian Church, Khachverats is celebrated on the Sunday between September 11-17.
The Holy Cross is celebrated in memory of the Lord’s return to Jerusalem from the Persian captivity and the erection (removal) at Calvary. Hence the holiday is called Khachverats.
This year, the holiday of Khachverats will be celebrated on September 17.
The day after the Cross is a dead day. On that day, St. A liturgy, a memorial service is performed, after which the graves of the deceased are visited.
The Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church has the following holidays dedicated to the Holy Cross. Apparition of the Holy Cross, Khachverats, Varaga St. Khachi, S. Invention of the cross. Three of these four are celebrated in all Christian churches, and only the feast of the Varaga Holy Cross is purely Armenian and is celebrated only in our Church.
After the invention of the Holy Cross, Queen Helena built the “Holy Resurrection” temple on Golgotha by the order of the Holy Emperor Constantine and placed the Lord’s crucifix there. Then he also built temples and chapels in Bethlehem and other administrative places.
The queen ordered to celebrate with great solemnity eight days the boatyard of the holy temples. From that day on, the order was established to celebrate the Dockyard of the Cross and the Feast of the Church on September 13, and the Feast of the Cross on September 14.
On that day, following the example of Hakobos Tyarneghbor, the high priest raised the cross of the Lord for the protection of the believers, that’s why the holiday was called “Kachverats”.
The Khachveratsi festival
The Khachveratsi festival received its final approval later, when the king of Persia, Khosrow Ambarisht, who reached the peak of his power, in 610 wanted to subjugate the Emperor Heracles and offered him a letter to come, accept his superiority and worship him.
He, having given a great army to his general Khorem, sent him to the Greek world, and the latter began to destroy and take great booty from the world of the Palestinians.
Horem the general in 614, besieging the city for nineteen days and digging its foundations, captured it. When the Persian army entered the city, the entire population was put to the sword. 57,000 people were massacred and 35,000 were captured.
Patriarch Zacharias was also captured among them. Then the Persians entered the Holy Resurrection Cathedral, confiscated the Holy Cross of the Assumption and the gold and silver utensils of the temple, and burned the city.
Then the commander ordered the captives to rebuild the city and expel all the Jews, and he took the Honorary Cross to Persia. As the army approached the royalist city, King Khosrow came forward to meet the Lord’s Cross, from which the Cross of Christ was inadvertently glorified. When the Cross of Christ entered the city with such honor, the Persian king kept it in great honor in his treasury and kept an undisturbed altar before the Cross.
Ark of God’s Covenant
The Christians, deprived of their holiness, found themselves in the same desolate condition as the Jews once were when the Philistines captured the Ark of God’s Covenant. However, the Cross of the Lord, having appeared in Persia, received great glory, as did the Ark in Azotus (see 1 Kings E).
Locals treated the cross of the Lord with great fear and said that the God of Christians came to them. This filled their hearts with such fear that, despite being heathens, they did not dare to harm the wood, and they did not even touch the precious jewels on it. Many of them turned to the local Christians and accepted Christianity after hearing the Gospel from them.
Emperor Heracles then called King Khakan of China for help. The Armenian side, led by general Mzhezh Gnunu, also brought military support to Herakles, who was also joined by the Armenians under Persian rule.
However, under the pressure of King Khosrow’s powerful army, the King of Chenae sided with Khosrow, and Emperor Heracles suffered a heavy defeat. After that defeat, he put on sackcloth, took off his crown and royal plum, and falling on the ashes, he prayed for three days, interceding with the Virgin Mary.
On the fourth day he received the fruit of prayer. it appeared to him in a vision that he should win that war. And indeed, Heracles won the battle, Khosrow was slain, and the remnant of his army fled.
Emperor Heracles comes east with a large army and demands the Holy Cross, which is immediately granted. First, the Holy Cross is transported from Persia in a solemn procession to the Armenian city of Karin, then from there to Constantinople and then to Jerusalem.
The khmetaryit is indescribably comforting and uplifting to devout believers. On the way back, the Cross is raised almost everywhere and causes joy everywhere, which seems to be a reliving of Christ’s resurrection. Those events became the reason for the establishment of the “Kachveratsi” holiday.
On that occasion, the big peak of the mountains rising on the southeast side of the Karno field is called Khamirayt. On the plateau of that mountain, a source of cold water flows, which has become a place of pilgrimage.
Local legend tells that after handing over the Cross, the Persians again tried to take it back. The Armenians, leaving the stick there, repulsed the attack of the Persian side and when they returned to take the stick, they saw that the cross had been placed there.