05/13/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The largest Armenian church in the Middle East, St. Giragos Cathedral in Diyarbakir, reopened on May 7. The church, built some 600 years ago, was abandoned for some time until restoration efforts began in 2008.
After three years of renovations, the church reopened in 2011 only to be closed again in 2015 due to damage during PKK fighting. According to Fides Agency, the Turkish government expropriated Christian churches as part of the campaign against the PKK to utilize their positions in the fighting. Five churches and more than 6,000 houses were expropriated, mostly from the historic center. After the latest renovation, the church’s foundation also submitted a request to the government to appoint a permanent clergyman to the church.
At the reopening of the historic church, Armenian Patriarch Sahak II commented, “Even with the numerical decline in the Christian presence in Diyarbakir, the opening of this church can be a lifeline. And it contains an important and meaningful message of friendship with a view to improving Turkish and Armenian relations.”