Blessing of Holy Muron Takes Place in Antelias; His Holiness Emphasizes the Need to Unite Around One Nation and One Homeland

Thousands gathered in front of St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral at the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias for the blessing of the Holy Muron – Muhronortnek – by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. Despite the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the dire economic situation in Lebanon, the faithful gathered and watched in awe, and with renewed hope and faith.

Unique to the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Holy Muron is prepared once every seven years, representing the grace of the Holy Spirit and a symbol of rebirth and renewal. It holds significant meaning as it is used in church sacraments and services, such as christenings and ordinations, as well as church and iconographic consecrations. It is diligently prepared with 40 ingredients including oils, plants, and herbs, cooked over wood fire, and when ready, poured in a special caldron. The caldron is then placed on the altar of St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral for 40 days prior to its blessing.

Witnessing the pageantry of the ceremony, the 13th instance for the Hoy See, were heads and representatives of Lebanon Churches, official and organizational representatives, including Armenian Ambassador to Lebanon, His Excellency Vahagn Atabekyan along with his staff. Pilgrims from North and South America, Europe, Iran, the Arab countries, and faithful hailed from around the world, and gathered in the courtyard of the Catholicosate for this inspiring occasion. Godfather of the ceremony was Mr. Meher Der Ohanessian, Vice-Chair of Executive Council of the Western Prelacy, USA.

Participating in the service alongside members of the Cilician brotherhood, representing the Holy See of Etchmiadzin were Bishops Moushegh Babayan and Vrtanes Aprahamian, and representing the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople was Archbishop Aram Ateshian.

The Muronohrnek is rich in tradition and meaning. Catholicos Aram was escorted to the altar under a canopy held by four laymen from the Diaspora, following behind a procession lead by seminarians, monks, and bishops. Four bishops carried key elements to be added to the already-prepared Muron: balsam oil, rose essence, muron from Holy Etchmiadzin, and the old Muron from the Catholicosate of Cilicia. With assistance from the 12 (14) participating bishops, after a series of scripture and gospel readings, the lid of the caldron was removed by the Godfather, and His Holiness proceeded by adding the additional elements with the last being the muron from the Holy See of Cilicia, poured out of the dove container, the ultimate symbol of peace.

In the pinnacle moment of the ceremony, with the majestic Cathedral as the backdrop, Catholicos Aram, using the Right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, blessed the muron and the faithful. As the choir sang “Oorakh Ler”, doves were released, and the crowd cheered with glee. His Holiness, participating bishops, and heads of churches, kissed the caldron of the newly blessed muron.

Bishop Moushegh Babayan, representing His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, offered His Holiness’ warm brotherly greetings to His Holiness Aram I, the clergy and the faithful, and recounted the significance of the muron, the symbol of one Armenian Church, and that we remain unshaken as one nation and one church.

In his address to the faithful, those in attendance and watching online, His Holiness Aram I stressed that the Muronohrnek is a heavenly call, a period for spiritual renewal, and a moment to reaffirm our national identity. “Remain faithful to the muron that you were anointed with. Rely on its ministry and purpose and its eternal message.” He continued, “From this Holy Muron, we are one and we are strong. From this Holy Muron, Armenia, Arstakh, and the Diaspora are one and indivisible. And from this Holy Muron, we will move forward as a victorious nation.”

In a moment of humility and grace, His Holiness came down to his knees and turned to God and prayed that the grace of the Holy Muron enrich the lives of the faithful, their thoughts and service, that they be cleansed of sins both visible and invisible. Catholicos Aram prayed that our children be anointed and blossom with the Holy Spirit, that our that clergy minister with deep conviction, and that our churches prosper with the prayers and presence of the faithful.

“Let the sick be healed and the evils stay afar. From the Holy Muron, let the darkness in our lives and our delusion paths be brightened, and our hearts and souls blessed.”

A representative from the Vatican read the message of His Holiness Pope Francis addressed to Aram Vehapar and the faithful, offering heartfelt greetings and prayerful wishes, thankful for the friendly relationship between the Catholic Church and the Catholicosate of Cilicia and looking forward to developing its partnership in advancing Christ’s love. His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syrian Orthodox Church offered warm brotherly greetings, recollecting our share histories of struggle, but keeping steadfast in our faith and forefathers. He welcomed the opportunity to witness the faith that we share and unites us all, and especially in these crucial times, the Holy Muron is a sign for our broken world that we overcome its troubles.”

Catholicos Aram offered the benediction after which the Shnorhali choir lead the congregation in the singing of Cilicia, as His Holiness proceeded to the Pontifical residence where he offered his final blessings.

The newly anointed Holy Muron will soon be distributed to all the Prelacies under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Cilicia. It is important to note that this newly blessed Holy Muron will be brought to Etchmiadzin to be added at the time of their blessing of the Holy Muron.

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