Though I have been in Jerusalem’s Old City many times, I have visited the Armenian Quarter only a few times. The Armenian Quarter is the southwest corner of the walled city. Entrance is easy from Jaffa Gate on the north, or from Zion Gate on the south.
The name Armenia comes from the people who lived in the eastern portion of what we now know as Turkey. Old maps showing this name are easily accessible on the Internet. The area is sometimes referred to as Turkish Armenia or Western Armenia. According to many records there was a genocide of the Armenians in 1915 during the time of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Popes and Presidents have cried out about the near-elimination of Armenians in the area.
This brings us back to the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. From Jaffa Gate one walks along Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate street. The other streets bear the names of St. James, St. Mark and Ararat. In 2013 I happened to be walking in the Armenian Quarter on April 24. This homemade sign caught my attention.
Have traveled in Eastern Turkey and seen the ruined Armenian churches I understood what this meant. Some residences (or businesses) displayed photos of events from the episode of 1915.
Yesterday’s The Times of Israel carried a lengthy article titled, “Urging recognition, Jerusalem Armenians mark 100th anniversary of genocide.” The subhead reads, “Thousands marching on April 23-24 to commemorate massacre of 1.5 million, the ‘wound that all the time is dripping blood.'” The pictures are vivid. See the complete article here.
A Restoration Movement Connection
Earl Irvin West, in the 3rd volume of The Search for the Ancient Order covers the period of the Restoration Movement from 1900 to 1918. West includes a few pages dealing with the preaching efforts of Churches of Christ in Armenia (pp. 357-362). One account begins in 1889 when a young man named Azariah Paul was supported by some churches in Nashville to preach in Armenia. Paul died from a sickness, but his brother Asadoor Paul continued the work.
When World War I began, Paul wrote that he would likely be pressed into military service. He dropped out of sight and by the time of America’s entry into the war in April 1917, it was generally assumed he had been killed.
West describes the persecution that came to the Christians from the Khurds, Turks, and Persians. Alexander Yohannan wrote to his American supporters on December 5, 1914,
…that all Syrian church buildings had been burned by them, that some people had been burned in ovens, that more than a thousand people had been killed in the vicinity of Charbosh, Persia.
“Black Sunday” was December 21, 1914, when Christian people moved into American mission enclosures as their houses and property were looted and burned by Moslem soldiers.
A related post about the region of Armenia is available here.
More stories about the Armenian Quarter later…