Father Hakob Sahakyan, who serves as the Spiritual Director of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Akhaltskha, has told Hetq that the Georgian Orthodox Church has appropriated an Armenian church in the village of Damala as one of its own.
Damala is an Armenian populated village in the region of Aspintza, Georgia.
Father Hakob adds that the Georgian Church has also appropriated two Armenian chapels, locally known as the Brother and Sister Chapels, located in the south-western corner of Akhaltskha.
|Brother and Sister Chapels|
Local Armenians have contacted Hetq, claiming that Georgian priests have started to organize pilgrimages to the two chapels where religious rites are held.
“Up till now, only Armenians visited these chapels, never Georgians. I don’t know how they are claiming the chapels as their own,” Father Hakob told Hetq.
The priest says there are many artifacts remaining in the chapels attesting to their Armenian origins.
Father Hakob says that Armenians always visit the Damala Monastery to celebrate the holiday of their village.
| Photos of the Damala Church and stone sculptures courtesy of
S, Karapetyan’s Javakhk book
In his book dedicated to Armenian architectural monuments in Javakhk, Samvel Karapetyan writes that the Damala Monastery dates to the 10th and 11th centuries and that the area is dotted with gravestones typical of the 15th-17th centuries.
Father Hakob has written to the Armenian Ministry of Culture on the matter, and proposes that a research team be sent to the area.
He has also written to the Georgian government but has received no response.
Hakob Simonyan, who heads the Armenian Ministry of Culture’s Historical-Cultural Inheritance Research Center, confesses that they have no archival evidence as to whether the two chapels are Armenian or not.
“We have to go to the site and examine the structures to see what similarities or differences exist between Armenian and Georgian churches,” noted Simonyan.