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Armenian Church to canonise 1.5 million genocide victims


armenian-genocideThe Armenian Church prepared Thursday to canonise up to 1.5 million Armenians massacred by Ottoman forces as tensions over Turkey’s refusal to recognise the killings as genocide reached boiling point.

The ceremony, which is believed to become the biggest canonisation service in history, comes ahead of commemorations expected to see millions of people including heads of state on Friday mark 100 years since the start of the killings.

The Armenian Apostolic Church announced the canonisation service for the “martyrs of the Armenian Genocide”, calling for a “prayerful participation in this historic event”.

The service will be held in Armenia’s main church, Echmiadzin, an austere fourth-century edifice believed to be the Christian world’s oldest cathedral.

The ceremony will run from 1300 GMT and end at 19:15 time (1515 GMT) to symbolise the year when the massacres started during World War I.

“Today’s canonisation unites all Armenians living around the globe,” Huri Avetikian, an ethnic Armenian librarian from Lebanon who arrived in her ancestral homeland to attend the service, told AFP.

“Souls of the victims of the genocide will finally find eternal repose today,” said 68-years-old social worker Varduhi Shanakian. “Supreme justice will triumph.”

After the ceremony to be led by Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, bells will chime in Armenian churches across the world and a minute of silence will be observed.

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