Armenian Jerusalem
St Deiniol’s church, Hawarden, Wales

In a remote corner of Wales, in a picturesque and historic parish

church in the Welsh village of Hawarden,  a humble silver

chalice stands as a silent testimony to the undying gratitude of a

persecuted people.

               For   over   100   years,   the   chalice   has   graced   the   altar   of   the   village   church, St.   Deiniol,   lost   in   the   maze   of   history   and   remembered   only   vaguely   in   one or other   church   document,   a   source   of   wonder   for   the   Welsh   worshippers   who prayed at the church.                Few   people   knew   how   it   got   there.   Fewer   still   had   any   inkling   what   the strange inscription it bore stood for, or what foreign tongue it was inscribed in.                It   was   a   chance   visit   to   Hawarden   by   a   priest   from   the   neighboring   Shotton vicarage at Deeside, that provided the key to the solving of the mystery.                Canon   Roberts   was   a   student   of   languages   and   the   moment   he   saw   the chalice,    he    became    intrigued:    he    recognized    the    unusual    calligraphy    as Armenian   but   could   not   decipher   it.   And   although   he   had   no   idea   what   the words   stood   for,   or   what   the   letters   represented,   he   managed   to   reproduce them sufficiently accurately for them to be intelligible.      His next next step was to locate somebody who knew Armenian.                   I   was   working   as   the   press   officer   for   the   Armenian   Patriarchate   of Jerusalem at the time,  and was the Patriarch's private secretary.                By   a   lucky   coincidence,   Canon   Roberts   had   been   to   Jerusalem   only   recently and   met   the   Patriarch,   Archbishop   Torkom   Manoogian,   himself   an   avid   fan   of history and archaeology.                Canon   Roberts   promptly   wrote   back   to   the   Patriarch   -   and   the   mystery   of the chalice was unveiled.                Poring   over   the   Welshman's   imperfect   rendition,   Patriarch   Manoogian   had   no difficulty   deciphering   the   seven   tell-tale   words.   A   picture   of   the   chalice,   in solitary   splendor   against   the   backdrop   of   an   altar,   later   confirmed   his   findings beyond the shadow of a doubt.                The   inscription   was,   in   fact,   in   Armenian.   It   was   a   quotation   of   Verse   13   of the      116th   Psalm:   "I   will   lift   up   the   cup   of   salvation   and   call   on   the   name   of   the Lord."                Armed   with   this   bit   of   information,   Canon   Roberts   got   busy   digging   further into   the   circumstances   of   the   chalice   and   its   strange   message.   Before   long,   its curious story came to light.                The   100-year-old   chalice   had   been   crafted   by   an   English   silversmith   as   a   gilt to   British   Prime   Minister   William   E.   Gladstone   for   his   efforts   in   alleviating   the sufferings of the Armenian people during the Turkish genocide.                Gladstone,   who   had   retired   to   his   home   a!   Hawarden   Castle   after   having resigned   as   prime   minister,   was   well   aware   of   the   plight   of   the   Armenians around   the   end   of   the   19th   Century,   and   saw   it   as   a   matter   of   personal   honor and   integrity   that   "he   must   give   whatever   support   he   could   to   the   Armenian Christians in their time of oppression and need," Canon Roberts reported.                "In   response   to   the   personal   support   given   by   so   eminent   a   British   statesman and   churchman,   at   a   time   in   his   life   when   many   would   have   hesitated   to become   involved   in   the   affairs   of   another   country,   the   Armenian   community made   gifts   to   his   parish   church   at   Hawarden   in   gratitude   for   his   sympathy   and assistance," Canon Roberts added.      The chalice was one of those gifts.                It   stands   only   22   cms   high,   and   is   just   less   than   15   cms   in   diameter   at   the outer   edge   of   the   lobes.   The   knob   is   set   with   six   gems   of   a   deep-red   color (possibly   garnets),   one   mounted   on   each   face,   above   which   the   bowl   rises,   10.5 cms in diameter at the lip.                The   base   of   the   chalice   is   engraved   with   a   cross   on   one   of   the   six   faces,   and a   six-pointed   star   on   the   remaining   five,   all   surrounded   with   a   pattern   of engraving   which   rises   up   the   stem   towards   the   knob.   The   bowl   is   plain,   except for   the   maker's   mark   and   hallmark   on   one   side,   toward   the   lip.   It   had   been crafted   by   Herbert   Edwin   Willis,   a   London   silversmith,   and   certified   as   sterling silver   by   the   London   assay   office   in   1893.   The Armenian   inscription   is   carved   on the opposite side of the bowl, between two crosses.                On   the   underside   of   the   base,   Canon   Roberts   found   the   following   inscription in   English,   dated   December   29,   2894:   "To   the   glory   of   God,   in   the   name   of   the Eternal   Trinity.   This   chalice   was   presented   to   the   rector   of   Hawarden   by   the Armenians    of    London    and    Paris,    on    the    85th    anniversary    of    William    Ewan Gladstone,    whose    loving    service    on    behalf    of    the    persecuted    Christians    in Turkey   they   desire   humbly   and   gratefully   to   acknowledge   and   whose   life   they pray Almighty God may long preserve."                Another   of   the   gifts   the   grateful   Armenians   made   to   Hawarden   was   a   two- light   stained   glass   window,   situated   at   the   eastern   end   of   the   north   wall   of   the nave,      depicting   St.   Bartholomew,   who   brought   Christianity   to Armenia,   and   St. Gregory   the   Illuminator,   the   first   Catholicos   (supreme   religious   head,   or   pope, of all Armenians).                Carved   into   the   sloping   stone   sill   of   the   two   parts   of   the   window,   there   is   a similar    inscription,    again    in    English,    thanking    Gladstone.    The    window    was dedicated   by   Arakel   Zadouroff   of   Baku,   Azerbaijan.   The   date   reads   1897—the identity of Arakel Zadouroff remains mired in mystery.
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
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