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29.4.15

Aleppo's Armenian Church of Forty Martyrs: Serious Damage

Reports from news agencies and the Armenian press surfaced in the morning of April 29, claiming that the Armenian church of Forty Martyrs, dating back to the fifteenth century and located in the old quarter of Jdeydeh, Aleppo, had been destroyed in the afternoon of April 26, 2015 by a terrorist attack. However, reports coming from Aleppo on April 29 indicated that the structure of the church was stable, but in a worrisome state due to continuous shelling over the past few days in the neighborhood. The door of the church has been damaged and the courtyard of the "Aghbalian" hall of the Armenian Prelacy has collapsed. The actual building that was destroyed was the Maronite print shop, located behind the church complex.

The first mention of the church appeared in 1476, but the current building was erected in 1491 to replace a small chapel. The church was named in honor of a group of Roman soldiers who were martyred in the city of Sepastia, in Lesser Armenia, and honored in Christianity as the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. The church underwent several renovations in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The bell tower (partly standing, according to the photograph) was built in 1912 by the donation of Syrian Armenian benefactor Rizkallah Tahhan from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The church housed khatchkars, relics, and icons, including “The Last Judgment,” a painting that dates back to 1703. Many pieces were housed in the Zarehian Museum within the church complex. The offices of the Armenian Prelacy of Aleppo are located across the street from the entrance of the church.
This attack about four months after terrorists bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity (also known as St. Rita), located next to the Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo, leaving the church partly destroyed. In September 2014, terrorists destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor, Syria—considered the Auschwitz of the Armenian genocide.

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