The Spirit of Vartanantz

“To stay and resist,” Hrant Dink wrote in his final newspaper entry. These four words summarize what has become a belief that has symbolized our spirit as Armenians throughout our history, and link us to the decisive event of the Battle of Vartanantz in our history.

The Battle of Vartanantz represents the conviction of the Armenian nation as it stood up for its faith in Christianity when it was challenged by the Persian Empire.  Before the Battle, the Persian King Yezdegerd II decreed a threat “that no man should dare call himself a Christian on pain of judgment, by the sword, fire and the scaffold.”  The great Armenian military leader Vartan Mamigonian, along with the Armenian nation, replied, “Neither angels nor men nor the sword nor fire would ever turn the Armenian people away from Christianity.”

On the eve of the Battle, the army took Communion, and on May 26, 451 AD on the plains of Avarayr, Vartan Mamigonian led 66,000 Armenian soldiers against a 200,000-strong Persian army. The Battle lasted one day, Vartan was killed and the Armenians lost.  They, however, under Vahan Mamigonian’s leadership, did not give up, but stood firm and persevered.  Thirty-three years after the Battle, and through the Treaty of Nvarsag, the Armenian nation secured its freedom –free to be Christians and practice their Christian faith, and free to preserve their Armenian identity and live in their homeland.

1M00s_tsW3fdQh4WdL9X8cGQu9tBSV94hwbA44eOG5VlGfAv6yFPDPWCjSnUXg7S0hyXQCrkKPgLuDapLS-4gDAQK537h7CvhXkstKnxtfjnvTNvLBX7ccC6UQZMYRMhzAWiFvu32U9trq8=s0-d-e1-ft.jpgHistory remembers individuals who resolve to stand firm on their principles and persevere in their beliefs. Moses was such a man. The Bible says, “by faith Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter … (and) not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered” (Hebrews 11:24, 27).  He saw his people liberated from slavery and preserve their Jewish identity.

The Battle of Vartanantz was and is the defining event in our history that gave to us a spirit of perseverance, resolve and sacrifice, which has lasted until today.  It’s up to us to remember –to relive and re-experience the perseverance, resolve and sacrifice of our ancestors, and to honor and preserve their enduring spirit.

-Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian
Vartanantz, February 23, 2017
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