VAN, Turkey

Akdamar Church in Turkey’s eastern province of Van will host the 8th special mass Sunday amid precautionary measures due to COVID-119.

The mass, which gathers thousands of local and international tourists in Van, will be held with a limited number of visitors this year as part of virus measures, Van Governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez told Anadolu Agency.

The mass will be aired live. A team of 25 people will come from Istanbul to perform the ritual for which all necessary measures are in place, Bilmez added. Other visitors will not be allowed to the island during the mass, he underlined.

The 1,100-year-old Akdamar Church, a medieval Armenian place of worship in Turkey’s eastern Van province, was built between 915-921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel under the direction of King Gagik I Artsruni.

The church, which has a special place in East-West Christian art, carries the most important adornments and the most comprehensive wall reliefs of its time and was accepted on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 13, 2015.

Turkey’s Ministry for Culture and Tourism has carried out extensive renovation and restoration work to bring the medieval church back to its former glory.

On Sept. 19, 2010, the Akdamar Church hosted its first service after a 95-year break. The church opened its service every year for one day and the last service was conducted in 2018, which saw a gathering of thousands of local and international tourists in Van.

*Writing by Faruk Zorlu

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