The Fate of Dadivank: The Heart of the Caucasus
When Russian peacekeeping forces arrived at Dadivank on November 13, 2020 the abbot of the monastery, Fr. Hovhannes, announced that he and the other clergymen would remain there. “The monastery belongs to us, we can’t leave. During this war our people have lost their loved ones, villages, homes, everything. They reject to lose Dadivank. We must stay here and pray for the protection of our monastery and the whole country,” Fr. Hovhannes, with a long grey beard and a silver crucifix around his neck, said.
“Not only is the monastery holy, like any house of God, it’s also a symbol of our Armenian identity as Christians that stretches back two millenniums,” Fr. Hovhannes says. It is an outstanding point of the Armenian pride to have been perhaps the first Christian country, even earlier than Romans, and is said that this heritage comes from this monastery specifically. Dadivank was founded in the 1st century by St. Dadi, a disciple of Thaddeus, the Apostle who spread the Christian faith to the region. It has persisted through Mongol, Persian, as well as the two more recent Azerbaijani-Armenian wars over Nagorno-Karabakh. When asked whether Fr. Hovhannes planned to organize the return of the precious carved crosses to the city of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, he answered: “Who am I to remove stones that have been here for over 800 years.”
Currently, the clergymen of the monastery are in complete isolation. There are a large number of Azerbaijani servicemen on all sides of Dadivank. “Despite all this, there is absolutely no fear. The monastery complex is on its feet, nothing has happened to it, we are here at the cost of our lives, trying to not let the enemy touch it or destroy it”, Fr. Atanas said, completing Fr. Hovhannes thoughts.
Armenian people all over the world are extremely concerned about the fate of this unique heritage, despite assurances from the Azerbaijani officials who promise to preserve the historical and spiritual places. “I don’t trust the Azerbaijanis and their Turkish supporters. History shows that every bite they take just makes them hungrier. This is who our enemy is, and that’s why we can never trust them,” Fr. Hovhannes concluded. Meanwhile surrounded by high mountains, dense forests, and gorges, Dadivank monastery remains as one of the unique and wonderful places of the region and can be truly considered the heart of the Caucasus.
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