ASIA/TURKEY - Ancient Armenian church of Kütahya razed to the ground

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 middle east   oriental churches   armenian genocide   church properties  

Kütahya (Agenzia Fides) - The ancient Armenian church of Surp Toros (Saint Torus) Kütahya, dating back to before the seventeenth century and long deconsecrated, was razed to the ground after being taken over by private owners. This was reported by the bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, based in Istanbul, citing local sources. The church, according to historical investigations by the Armenian researcher Arshag Alboyaciyan, had been rebuilt in the early 17th century, after being destroyed by a fire. It was known for guarding a rock which, according to local traditions, bore the imprint of the horse of Saint Torus. Turkish women affected by diseases - studies on local customs report - used to sit on that stone (which they believed to have thaumaturgical properties) and ask Armenian priests to read them passages from the Bible, to invoke healing.
Before 1915, about 4,000 Armenians resided in the Turkish city of Kütahya and in the province of the same name. In Kütahya (see photo) there were three Armenian churches. After the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian inhabitants of that region registered by the 1931 census were only 65. In the following decades, the few Armenians of Kütahya moved to Istanbul or emigrated abroad. The church of Saint Torus, before being demolished, was for a long time used as a room for the screening of films or for the celebration of wedding banquets, and had to be preserved from demolition according to a provision of the Council for the protection of cultural heritage of the Kütahya region. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 27/1/2021)