The relentless struggle waged by the Armenians for centuries in the name of the cross has given their church a strictly national character.
The church hymns of the Armenians included sacred hymns – sharakans, sincere outpourings of spiritual writers and poets created in the difficult moments of domestic calamities. Most Armenians know and sing these hymns after the clergyman. They are familiar with the names of many authors who fervently prayed to the Almighty for the deliverance of the Christian homeland from one or another danger.
In these chants, even well-known moments and some details of the threats faced are sometimes described in general terms.
The Armenian church, closely merging with the historical destinies of the people, has become completely national, more national than any other church.
It is clear that for every Armenian, to switch to another religion meant and means to break the connection with the centuries-old spiritual life of their people with which they have grown together with their whole being and with all the feelings of their heart.
Catholic Armenian have also always vigorously defended the rights of the national church where sharakans are sung and worship is performed in their native language. A striking example of this is the twenty-year struggle of a handful of Armenian Catholics in Turkey against the repression from the Vatican.
The centuries-old struggle of the Armenians against the Byzantines (5th-11th centuries) and the Latins (12th-14th centuries) was caused by the same desire to preserve the identity of their national church. Both sought to persuade the Armenians to a union which could end with the still weak church merging with a more established one and the absorption of the Armenian element by Greek and Latin.
But their centuries-old attempts to prevent the Armenian people from praying in the language which they read their martyrology in and drew new forces from for further vital struggle have been unsuccessful!
Traditional Armenians group