The Forgotten Legacy of Mren Cathedral’s Destroyed Masonry Cross Stones

The Echoes of History: The Mren Cathedral

Mren Cathedral, an ancient Armenian church with a distinct domed basilica design, is situated close to Bagaran in the historical city of Mren, Western Armenia (occupied by Turkey). It is a relic of Armenia’s past glory, offering insights into the region’s cultural, historical, and architectural grandeur. Historians credit the construction of this magnificent structure to Prince Davit Saharun, with work completed in 639-640, according to ancient records, including the testimony of the historian Sebeos.

The Masonry Cross Stones (Khachkars) of Mren Cathedral

One of the most unique and defining aspects of Armenian religious architecture is the art of cross-stone carving, also known as Khachkars. Mren Cathedral was no exception to this tradition and was once home to intricately carved masonry cross stones, masterpieces that combined religious symbolism with unparalleled craftsmanship.

Destruction: A Loss for Heritage and Humanity

Unfortunately, the masonry cross stones of Mren Cathedral have not stood the test of time—or more accurately, the test of human actions. Over the years, these unique cultural artifacts have been destroyed by the Turks. Each destroyed cross stone signifies a lost page in the book of Armenian history, culture, and art.

Why It Matters

The destruction of these masonry cross stones is not merely a loss for the Armenian people but for global heritage as a whole. Khachkars are an essential part of Armenia’s rich tapestry of religious and cultural traditions. Their destruction diminishes our understanding of the intricate artisanship and the spiritual sensibilities of the Armenian people in the past.

The Larger Context: Preserving What Remains

The destruction of the Khachkars at Mren Cathedral should serve as a clarion call to preserve what remains of ancient Armenian art and architecture. Sites like these are the touchstones of a civilization’s history and culture, and once they are gone, they are irreplaceable.

The destroyed masonry cross stones of Mren Cathedral may be lost, but they should never be forgotten. Their destruction should serve as a painful reminder of the impermanence of material culture in the face of human conflict and negligence, compelling us to act to preserve the treasures that still exist.

Let these lost stones be a lesson and a catalyst for change, urging us to protect, preserve, and revere the architectural wonders that connect us to our roots, reminding us of who we are and where we come from.

Vigen Avetisyan
Image Source: Gayane Ayvazyan Հայաստան Armenia Армения

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