Sunday, October 18, 2009

Return to Alaverdi





















While traveling in Georgia in June, 2007, I visited the Alaverdi Cathedral, near Telavi. The church was founded in the 6th-century, by St. Joseph, one of the 13 Syrian Fathers. We drove in from Sighnaghi that Sunday morning and attended Divine Liturgy. My short time there was a highlight of my Georgian experience.

I was excited to discover this fascinating documentary from 2006. The feast day for St. Joseph is celebrated in September. From time immemorial, pilgrims have come to Alaverdi for the feast. In time, a festival grew up around the observance. During the years of Communist control, the festival continued and grew, though without any religious connotation.

I found the documentary to be absolutely incredible, and quite moving. Now it seems there exists something of a tension between those who come for the feast of the Church, and those who still hold to the habits and patterns of life learned under 3 generations of Communism.

I believe the narrator at the first of the film is Bishop David of Alaverdi, whom I had the honor of meeting in Sighnaghi.

The documentary is in 2 sections--be sure to watch each of them.

3 comments:

Milton T. Burton said...

Since I can't hear well enough to understand the documentary, would you please explain what you mean by the following passage:

" Now it seems there exists something of a tension between those who come for the feast of the Church, and those who still hold to the habits and patterns of life learned under 3 generations of Communism."

John said...

Milton, I probably made it more complicated than it needed to be. A festival grew up around the religious feast. Then during Communism, it grew into a totally secular, have-a-good-time gathering. Many of those who continue to attend the festival, come for that reason. Now that the church is back, so to speak, they are setting some boundaries between the religious feast and the party going on down the road. They have prohibited the slaughtering of animals on the church grounds, etc., reminding the people of the holiness of the church and the occasion, etc. That's all I meant.

Milton T. Burton said...

Got it. Like Christmas in Texas, in other words!