A view of the City of Ourfa. The large structure in the center is the Holy Virgin Armenian Church (Source: Archives départementales de l’Eure)

Ourfa – Churches, Monasteries, and Pilgrimage Sites

Author: Vahé Tachjian, 16/09/16 (Last modified 16/09/16) - Translator: Simon Beugekian

Ourfa, the historical Edessa, has always been one of the cradles of Christianity. This link between the city and the teachings of Jesus Christ was already apparent during the reign of Abgar V (although the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Edessa’s ruling family is thought to have occurred during the reign of Abgar IX (179-214 CE)).  According to legend, Abgar V’s emissaries met with Christ, and the king adopted the new faith. Later, according to Armenian historical sources, the apostle Thaddeus visited the city to preach, and Christianity began spreading.
 
The details of how Christianity spread and took hold in the city are ambiguous. The historical sources sometimes contradict each other, particularly in relation to names and dates. However, it is clear that the city embraced the new faith very early, as evidenced by the presence of ancient Christian pilgrimage sites and chapels, some of which were later transformed into mosques [1].
 
Ourfa owes its ancient and historic connection with Christianity, above all, to the Assyrian people. Notably, by the Ottoman era, the Assyrian presence in Ourfa was negligible, while Armenians, with their language, culture, and sheer numbers, had come to dominate the city. As a result of these demographic shifts, the religious traditions of the Assyrians were bequeathed to the Armenian community, who appropriated many Assyrian rites, beliefs, and saints. We will describe many of these in this article.

The Holy Virgin Armenian Church of Ourfa. This photograph was taken after the restoration to the church, as it was sacked and torched in 1895 (Source: Der Christliche Orient, Oktober 1900, Verlag der Deutschen Orient-Mission, Berlin)

The Holy Virgin Church of the City of Ourfa

According to tradition, this church was constructed during the reign of Abgar V, and was founded by the apostle Thaddeus. It is said that when the church was first constructed, it had seven spires, but after Abgar’s death, his son rejected Christianity, reverted to paganism, and destroyed six of the spires, leaving only one of them standing [2].

These legends speak to the local Armenians’ belief in the antiquity of their church. It was located on the same street as the Father Abraham Lake, in the southern part of the city’s Armenian neighborhood. Relics of the Patriarch Atteh (a disciple of Saint Thaddeus, who later became the Prelate of Edessa) were kept in the sepulcher of the church. Ourfa Armenians consider the legends related to the church’s founding and its links to King Abgar and the apostle Thaddeus to be undisputed truth. To wit, when the church was being restored in the 1670s, an inscription was placed over the entrance, reading – “With the Grace of God … This Church, Built by Abgar, Was Restored …” The seat of the Prelate of Ourfa was often called “The Holy Throne of Atteh The Patriarch and of Thaddeus the Apostle.[3]”

During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, Armenians repeatedly petitioned the government for the right to restore the church. Based on that evidence, we can surmise that this holy site was not in an enviable state, and there was a clear need for renovations. During these years, the central Ottoman government did not have the wherewithal and the power to directly address the internal concerns in all of its provinces. Consequently, local authorities had become all-powerful, often flouting the law and committing atrocities. An order to renovate a church or a holy site could only be issued by a decree of the Sultan. This decree was obtained in the 1670s, but the local authorities delayed its implementation, and the church remained in a dilapidated state. Eventually, in the 1670s, another request was made, and Sultan Mehmed IV (1642-1693) signed the requisite decree. After another set of delays, the renovations finally began [4].

Ourfa. The rebuilding of the Holy Virgin Armenian Church after the destruction of 1895 (Source: Der Christliche Orient, Oktober 1900, Verlag der Deutschen Orient-Mission, Berlin)

The local Muslims had a custom of saying Kurban olayım katır kuzulatan Meryem Ana'ya! (“May I lay down my life for the sake of Mary, who can even make a mule pregnant! ”). Many Muslims approached the monastery with reverence. They would visit it, believing that the site had miraculous healing properties, and would ask the priests to read the Bible to them. The adage of the locals had a source in tradition – It was said that one day, a Turkish kabadayi  (a ruffian) fell sick. His situation became critical, and his doctors were heard saying “This man’s mule will get pregnant before he gets better” [mules are sterile, and it is very rare for them to bear offspring – ed.]  Hearing these words, the sick man asked his relatives to help him onto his mule, and then lead the mule to the environs of the Holy Virgin Church (Meryem Ana). The sick man then made a visit to the monastery and left behind an offering, wishing that he would overcome his illness. Sometime later, he was cured, and his mule bore a foal [5].

In 1841, on the initiative of the then-Prelate of Ourfa, Bishop Harutyun Kabbenjian (1785-1848), a large school and a prelacy were built on the grounds of the Church [6].

In 1845, on the initiative of the same Prelate (who was a native of Ourfa), the construction of a new church was planned. The Armenians of Ourfa received an official decree from Sultan Abdul Mejid, allowing the construction of the new church, which in and of itself was a historic event. For centuries, due to the intransigence of local authorities, the Armenians of the community had had to do with a dilapidated church. Work began immediately – the historic church was razed, and in its place rose a new building. There was great popular excitement, and Armenians of all walks of life spared no effort to ensure that the initiative ended with success. There were many volunteers who helped the workers by carrying water, cement, and stones to them. Many of the workers themselves worked on a voluntary basis, refusing any pay. Every Armenian in Ourfa wanted to contribute somehow to the project. The architect of the new church was Ousda (Master) Harab.

The altar of the Holy Virgin Armenian Church. This photograph was probably taken prior to 1895, as the altar was destroyed during the anti-Armenian massacres of that year (Source: Christine Gardon collection, Berlin)

The work lasted five years, during which Ourfa and the area experienced a large-scale economic crisis. Also, those years saw the death of the primary advocate and driving force of the construction work, the Prelate Harutyun Kabbenjian. He was succeeded by Bishop Hagop Ghazanjian. Armenians living in the nearby towns and villages of Garmouj (present-day Dağeteği), Siverek/Severeg, Jibin (present-day Saylakkaya), Husni Mansur, and Birejig/Birecik also contributed funds for the construction of the new church. One of the largest donors was Ghazar Dadoyan, who hailed from Garmouj [7].

Construction finally ended in 1850. The new church was a gigantic structure. Its altar soon became famous, particularly the altar’s gilded throne, carved by Armenian master carpenters, displaying the images of the twelve apostles surrounded by six trumpeting cherubs. The tall columns of the altar were also gilded and decorated with spandrels depicting sheaves of grain, bundles of grapes, and bunches of roses and violets. At the center of the altar, almost level with the throne, was a large image of the Virgin Mary, the wood around which, gradually leading to the floor, was also carved with the figures of flowers. Both the main altar and the second altar also boasted figures of angels carved out of stone, which were taken down during the days of Bishop Hovhanness, who became prelate in 1851. The Holy Virgin Church had two stories for believers – the lower, larger hall was reserved for the men, while the second-floor hall, which was only about a quarter of the size of the lower hall, was for the women [8].

1
2

1) The entrance of the Holy Virgin Armenian Church, and its cemetery (Source: Ferdinand Brockes, Quer durch Klein-Asien, Gütersloh, 1900)
2) The Holy Virgin Armenian Church of Ourfa and its adjacent cemetery (Source: Christine Gardon collection, Berlin)

Upon entering the church, on the right side, was a small chapel, which contained the relics of Patriarch Atteh. During the 1860s the church also had an iron bell, which summoned believers to prayer. During the same years, a copper bell was ordered, which was placed in the bell tower in 1868. However, the very first peals of this new bell raised the protests of the local Muslims. In order to avoid an escalation of the situation, the bell was removed and buried somewhere close to the church. About ten years later, during the prelacy of Bishop Khoren Mekhitarian, this same bell was recovered and placed in the bell tower of the church, where it remained [9].

Then came the year 1895. In the first few months of the year, mass pogroms and massacres targeting Armenians erupted across the Ottoman Empire. During these events, which took place under the watchful gaze of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the Armenians of Ourfa bore some of the worst violence. Thousands of Armenians were killed. The looting and the fires claimed Armenian homes, schools, workshops, and stores. During the worst of the violence, about 3,000 Armenians took shelter inside the Holy Virgin Church. But even this hallowed site was not spared. On December 29, 1895 (December 17 according to the Julian calendar), the church was attacked by the Turkish mob. Its seven doors yielded to axes, and the assailants began shooting into the church from its 14 windows. Soon the bloodshed culminated, and after the killing, the mob looted the church’s treasures and desecrated the crosses. Some of the assailants urinated into the holy vessels, while others put on the habits of the priests and paraded around in the streets. The church was also set ablaze, and was heavily damaged. The same events – bloodshed, looting, and desecration – repeated themselves in the Armenian Prelacy. It is said that in that one single day, approximately 2,500 Armenians were killed. Among the massacre’s casualties was Father Abraham Arevian, the author of a book that is the principal source of information regarding the construction of the church and its history. Ironically, it is his book that describes the reverence with which the local Muslims treated the Holy Virgin Church… [10]

A sketch of the altar of the Holy Virgin Armenian Church of Ourfa, designed by Mardiros Sevian (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, 1955)

After these widespread massacres, the Armenians tried to rebuild their lives. In Ourfa, given the fact that the Holy Virgin Church was partially in ruins, the services of the Apostolic Armenian Church were temporarily moved to the nearby Saint Sarkis Monastery, to various Assyrian churches in the lower city, to the Armenian Protestant Church, or to the girls’ school located in the environs of the Holy Virgin Church [11].

The reconstruction of the church began about a year after its sacking. The work, again, was communal, and the project once again engendered great excitement. People volunteered for work. The damage, however, was extensive. The two large columns right outside the entrance were at risk of collapsing. During the renovations, it became necessary to fit steel rings around them. The large bell was once again placed in the steeple. The rebuilt church was re-consecrated in 1897, and its bell once again called believers to their dearest holy site [12].

During the Armenian Genocide, when most of the Armenians of Ourfa were either killed or deported, the Holy Virgin Church was converted into a stable. After the end of the First World War, when Ourfa was occupied by the Allied armies, survivors of the Genocide returned to Ourfa, where they tried to rebuild their lives. They reopened the Holy Virgin Church. But the reawakening of Armenian culture in the area did not last long. In the early 1920s, the Armenians of the area left their homes for good, leaving behind the Holy Virgin Church [13].

Ourfa, 1903. The courtyard of the Holy Virgin Armenian Church. Funeral procession of Prelate Bishop Khoren Mekhitarian (1823-1903). The Prelate was very popular among the Armenians of Ourfa (Source: Der Christliche Orient, Februar 1904, Verlag der Deutschen Orient-Mission, Berlin)

The Saint Sarkis Monastery

The Saint Sarkis Monastery was located one kilometer to the south-west of Ourfa, and was built at the foot of a mountain. The monastery compound included a church, dormitories and halls that housed pilgrims, and guest quarters for visiting high-ranking clerics. The guest quarters were mostly used by the Prelate of Ourfa, who spent some of his summers there and came to visit during pilgrimages. The monastery also had its own library containing many manuscripts.

On the feast day of Saint Sarkis, every pious Armenian from Ourfa would be at the monastery. After a solemn mass, animals would be sacrificed in honor of the saint, and the crowds would enjoy day-long festivities, games, and feasts.

The monastery also had its own cemetery, and was surrounded by orchards, gardens, and a vast pasture, all irrigated by the water from a nearby pond. These all belonged to the monastery, and were a source of some of its income. The rest of the monastery’s income consisted of the donations offered by pilgrims. Also, once a year, the monastery’s procurer would make a trip to the city, where he would raise funds from devout Armenians. The estates of the monastery often aroused the envy of local chieftains, who were always ready to pounce and appropriate whatever they could. Despite the best efforts of the Armenian community, these local strongmen often exploited the weakness of the central Ottoman authorities to take whatever they wished from the monastery. Consequently, by the end of the 19th century, Saint Sarkis had lost the lands that had once belonged to it.

The Saint Sarkis Monastery. The photograph depicts women who survived the Armenian Genocide, and who, after 1919, lived in the women’s sanctuary established at the monastery (Source: Artsakank Parisi (Echoes of Paris), January 1921, Issue 5, Numbers 21-26, Paris)

The monastery’s cemetery contains the remains of Yeprem the Assyrian (known as Yeprem Khoury or Ephraem Syrus, 303-373). He was born in Ourfa in the fourth century, and was a pupil of Hagop Mdzpnetsi (Jacob of Nisibis). It is said that Yeprem became an ascetic and lived in a cave. According to these legends, the monastery was then built at the site of this cave. Given that Yeprem was Assyrian and was recognized as a saint by the Assyrian Church, many attempts were made to move his remains out of the Armenian monastery. Consequently, conflict flared between the local Assyrians, who yearned to gain possession of their saint’s relics, and the local Armenians, who refused to give those relics up.

In 1873 the monastery was fully renovated. The old buildings were almost entirely razed, and new ones were built by the expert mason Krikor Mesrobian, with the aid of his father, the architect Sarkis Mesrobian. The new church was fitted with a new steeple. The new buildings were officially opened and consecrated on September 27, 1878. In 1881, Father Abraham Arevian was appointed abbot of the Saint Sarkis Monastery.

After the Hamidian massacres of 1895, additional renovations were made, and substantial administrative reforms were introduced. Thanks to these reforms, the monastery’s farms began producing a substantial amount of income, and the monastery was even able to afford its own flock of cattle.

The monastery compound also included a school, adjacent to the monastery. The monastery always offered protection to the local Armenians during pogroms and massacres that targeted them. To wit, after the massacres of 1895, an orphanage/school was established at the monastery. After the Armenian Genocide, surviving Armenian women and orphans, sheltering in the monastery, founded yet another orphanage, as well as a sanctuary for women [14].

Panorama of the Saint Sarkis Monastery. The monastery’s large orchards are visible outside the walls (Source: Christine Gardon collection, Berlin)

1) Panorama of the Saint Sarkis Monastery (Source: Michel Paboudjian collection, Paris)
2) The Saint Sarkis Monastery. On the roof are Armenian orphans, who were pupils at the monastery’s school/orphanage. This institution was established in 1895 after the Hamidian massacres (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, 1955)

The Armenian Protestant Church

This church was located at one tip of the Tilfandir District, adjacent to the American Mission. The first Protestant ministries in the area date from the 1850s, when western Protestant missionaries appeared in Ourfa. The Armenian Protestant Church was founded in 1880,and was designed by the architect Kel Krikor. Pastor Hagop Abouhayatian played a large role in ensuring the construction of this church. He was a native of Ourfa, and in 1877 he traveled to Germany where he raised funds to support the construction of the church. Unfortunately, he was murdered during the massacres of 1895. During those days of pogroms and persecution, the Armenian Protestant Church was spared, most probably thanks to the efforts of the American mission.

During the years of the Genocide, the Turkish authorities converted the church into a storehouse for a local orphanage [15].

The Armenian Protestant Church of Ourfa (Source: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions archives, Harvard University, Houghton Library)

1) Interior of the Armenian Protestant Church of Ourfa (Source: Ferdinand Brockes, Quer durch Klein-Asien, Gütersloh, 1900)
2) Ourfa. A service inside the Armenian Protestant Church, attended by the orphans of the German orphanage. The orphanage was established after the massacres of 1895 (Source: Der Christliche Orient, Juni-Juli 1900, Verlag der Deutschen Orient-Mission, Berlin)
3) The sanctuary of the Armenian Protestant Church (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, 1955)

The Armenian Catholic Church

The Armenian Catholic Church was located in the Temour neighborhood, which was mostly populated by Armenians. The Church was adjacent to an estate called Masmana. The church was built in the 1860s, under the auspices of the Armenian Catholic Priest Father Boghos Sabbaghian [16].

The Well of the Image of Edessa (Antseragerd Tasdarag) (Eyüp Peygamber)

This holy site was located about two kilometers to the south of Ourfa. The circular wellspring had been hollowed out of the bedrock, with a narrow passage leading out of a deep pool. A hall had been built around the wellspring, with thick walls. There were also rooms reserved for pilgrims.

Legend linked this well to the famous story of the Image of Edessa (Antseragerd Tasdarag). This was a handkerchief that, according to myth, depicted the actual visage of Jesus Christ. It was believed that King Abgar of Ourfa had sent a delegation to Christ, inviting him to visit Ourfa. This was at a time when the king suffered from leprosy, and was on the verge of death. He had converted to Christianity, wished to see the prophet, and thought the latter could cure his ailment. Christ, however, could not make the voyage. The King had prepared for this contingency – he had ordered his delegation, in case they failed to convince Christ to come to Ourfa, to at least paint the prophet. However, their efforts to paint Christ failed. Eventually, Christ picked up a handkerchief, and covered his face with it. Miraculously, the outlines of his likeness immediately appeared upon the handkerchief. This was the Image of Edessa, which the delegation brought back to Ourfa.

On their way back, when they were already quite close to Ourfa, the delegation noticed that they were being tailed by brigands. They decided to throw the handkerchief into a nearby well, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. However, as soon as they threw the handkerchief into the well, the waters roiled and erupted out of the wellspring, flooding the immediate area. After this miracle, the well became a holy site.

Ourfa. The large structure in the center is the Holy Virgin Armenian Church (Source: Michel Paboudjian collection, Paris)

People believed that the waters of the well had healing properties. Lepers, in particular, were instructed to bathe in the well’s waters. According to tradition, the apostle Thaddeus cured King Abgar’s leprosy using the waters of the well. Consequently, the well was famed all across Ourfa. Alongside Armenians, the site was visited by Turks, Assyrians, Arabs, Kurds, in other words by people of all faiths and nationalities, all of whom believed that the waters would heal them and cure their various ailments. The Muslims called this holy site Eyüp Peygamber.

Although pilgrims visited the well throughout the year, the crowds were especially large on the Vartavar Holiday. On that day, masses of believers would congregate at the wellspring, and spend the day in ritual animal sacrifices, songs, games, and contests. The site was also visited by large numbers of people on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when mass was held at the site, and the people burned incense and prayed fervently [17].

The altar of the church on the grounds of the Saint Sarkis Monastery (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, 1955)

Another miraculous act was thought to be linked to the well. This one occurred during the years of Arab domination in the region. It was said that the night sentry of the Arab forces stationed in the fort of Ourfa saw a light, emitting from within the well. He raised the alarm, and a squad was dispatched to investigate. The squad soon reported that three rays of light, converging inside the well, were responsible for the sun-like light emitting from the site. News soon spread, and people assembled at the well, expecting to witness miracles. Finally, one of them mustered the courage to volunteer, and was lowered down into the well by a rope. He was pulled back out two hours later, in a stupefied state. When he finally collected his wits, he told the others that down in the well, he had seen a woman clad in a dress the color of apricot, alongside a book with a cross embossed on it, held aloft by two winged angels [18].

Father Abraham Arevian, who wrote his book on the history Ourfa in the late 19th century, states that the guardianship of the Image of Edessa site had been entrusted, from time immemorial, to the Oroug Family. They lived right outside the Kharan/Harran gate of Ourfa, in a hamlet named Keotiler. The sexton of the site was Arev Shadarevian. His duties included ensuring the proper maintenance of the site, and ensuring a constant supply of candles and incense for visitors. After Shadarevian’s death, the post was given to Suvaji Tattos, and after him, to his son Suvaji Garabed [19].

The Saint Hagop Pilgrimage Site

The site was located 5-6 kilometers to the south of the City of Ourfa, at the summit of a mountain. In the past, it had probably been a fort. Most of what we know about this site comes from the book of Hagop Husayan. His information is based on his own memories, as well as the recollections of other Ourfa Armenians, which means his information pertains to the pre-Genocide era. Husayan writes that during his lifetime, the Saint Hagop site was already in ruins. The outer walls still stood, but inside, the prayer site, dormitories, and other rooms were in a dilapidated state. However, even in its ruined state, the site bespoke of its ancient glory – one could still discern arches, recesses, reinforced columns, and engraved stones.

According to tradition, this was where Saint Hagop lived in the winters, in the cold and snow, as an ascetic. He was also said to spend the summers in hot deserts. Both the mountain, and the fort at the summit, were named after Saint Hagop.

Every year, on the feast day of Saint Hagop, Armenians from Ourfa and from all around the area gathered at the site, held a vigil through the night, and held mass in the morning, before dispersing [20].

A panorama of Ourfa. To the left, on the foreground, is a section of the Saint Sarkis Monastery (Source: Paul Rohrbach, Armenien, Stuttgart, 1919)

The King Abgar Mountain

Located three kilometers to the south-west of the City of Ourfa. According to legend, King Abgar, after converting to Christianity, had become an ascetic and had isolated himself from the word on this mountain. There was a cave on the mountain, where the king was believed to have taken shelter. There were two depressions in the ground, which were believed to have been left there by the king, who, kneeling, prayed in the cave for hours on end. Arevian writes that the summer house of the king was also on the mountain, and that after his death, the king was buried in the aforementioned cave.

The mountain was a beloved pilgrimage site for the Armenians of Ourfa. Husayan writes that every year, on the Monday after the end of lent, the people gathered at the mountain, where mass was held, followed by feasts, songs and dancing, music, games, and contests. Another source states that every year, in early June, the people gathered and held a vigil near the mountain, probably commemorating the anniversary of King Abgar’s death.

According to many sources, by the 19th century, Muslim gypsies were living in the caves of the King Abgar Mountain [21].

View of Ourfa. The photograph was taken from the highest of the forts surrounding the city (Source: Hugo Grothe, Geographische Charakterbilder, Leipzig, 1909)

The Father Abraham Lake

This lake and its environs had been considered sacred by the local Muslims for centuries. There were mosques, some of which had once been churches, as well as Muslim cemeteries. However, the memory of this site had not disappeared from the collective consciousness of the area’s Christian Armenians and Assyrians.

Near the lake was a chapel that was visited by pilgrims of all faiths. They came, left alms in a box, then fervently prayed, asking God to cure their various ailments. The money that was collected was redistributed to the poor. [22]

A cave in the holy grounds near the Father Abraham Lake (Source: Ferdinand Brockes, Quer durch Klein-Asien, Gütersloh, 1900)

Yuz Piani

This well was considered to be one of the principal sources of potable water in the area. It was located at a distance of about 12 kilometers from Ourfa, at the foot of Mount Dolamaj. People suffering from various ailments came to bathe in its waters, believing that the waters had curative properties. Near the well was a wild pear tree, its branches covered by colorful clothes that had been tied them by pilgrims, who believed that this act helped ensure that their wishes would come true. The people who came to visit Yuz Piani were from all religions and nationalities [23].

The Assyrian Churches of Ourfa

The Assyrian community of Ourfa had several churches, including the St. Paul Church. It was a newly constructed structure, located right inside the Beg Kapusi gates. The church housed a miraculous key, which had the power to “heal” children who could not speak. After mass, the priest would take the “mute” child to the altar, where the key would be inserted in his or her mouth [24].

Ourfa. Altar of the Saint Paul Assyrian Church. Just like the altar of the Holy Virgin Church, it was designed by Mardiros Sevian (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, 1955)

The Holy Virgin Church of Garmouj

There is little information on this church. We know that it was called the Holy Virgin Church, just like its namesake in the City of Ourfa. It had existed since ancient times. There are records of the church being attacked in 1631, when  it was sacked and torched. However, the Armenian community in Garmouj rebuilt the church during that same year. In the 19th century, during the reign of the Prelate Bishop Khoren Mekhitarian (1823-1903), the church was razed, and a new one was built in its place, in 1881. The architect was Hagop Ardzivian.

The village was also relatively close to the Saint Hovhanness, Saint Thaddeus, Saint Garabed, and Saint Hagop pilgrimage sites, all of which were either ruins or caves that had been used by celebrated ascetics. In the environs of the village were the ruins of the Saint Hagop, Saint Minas, Saint Mardiros, and Saint Yeghya monasteries. These ruins were located on arable land owned by villagers [25].

The Protestant Church of Garmouj

All we know is that an Armenian Protestant Church existed in this village [26].

The Church of Sourouj

All we know is that an Armenian Apostolic Church existed in the village of Sourouj, whose population was majority Kurdish. To the south of Sourouj, in the village of Zyaret, was located the grave of Hagop Srjetsi, which was a pilgrimage site [27].

Other nearby cities (Burejig, Jibin, Ehnesh)

The Armenian Church of Burejig was built in the 1880s, and was called the Holy Virgin Church. The Armenian church in Jibin was called Saint Nigoghos, the one in Ehnesh was called Saint Mergelios, and the one in Nizib the Holy Virgin Church [28].

  • [1] Among the churches that had disappeared, or had been transformed into mosques, were the Ardjija Monastery; the Saint Sarkis Church located inside the fort of Ourfa (later converted into a mosque); the Saint Toros, Saint Kevork, Saint Sophia, Saintly Forty Martyrs, Saint Thomas (in the Tilfindir neighborhood), Saint Thomas, Saint Hovhanness, and Saint Minas churches near the eastern fort; the Saint Giragos Church near the Father Abraham Lake; and the Saint Peter Church near the city’s southern fortifications. We know that in the town of Josagh near Ourfa, a church named the Holy Virgin was active until at least the 17th century, but this site was abandoned when Armenians left the area. (Father Abraham Arevian (of Edessa), History of Edessa, 1881, Edessa, in Aram Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa and Her Offspring, published by the Union of Ourfa Armenians, Beirut, 1955, pages 97, 115, 128, & 130).
  • [2] Arevian, History of Ourfa, page 128.
  • [3] Arevian, History of Ourfa, page 113 & 130; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa and Her Offspring, page 239.
  • [4] Arevian, History of Ourfa, pages 106, 108, 110, & 113.
  • [5] Ibid, page 136.
  • [6] Father Apraham Arevian (of Edessa), History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, 1889, Edessa, in Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 166.
  • [7] Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, pages 171 & 174-181.
  • [8] Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, pages 183 & 186; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 361.
  • [9] Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, pages 2015, 214-215, & 240-241; Hagop Husayan, Edessa, published by Aramazt, 1962, Beirut, page 43.
  • [10] Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, pages 358-363; An Armenian from Edessa, The Calamitous Events and Tragic Massacres in Edessa, published by H. Avedaranian, Shumen, Bulgaria, 1904, pages 14-18.
  • [11] Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 543.
  • [12] Ibid., pages 543-545.
  • [13] Ibid., page 1207.
  • [14] Arevian, History of Ourfa, page 118; Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, pages 168, 227, 236, & 257; Hisayan, Edessa, pages 43-44. Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, pages 275, 344, 541, & 551.
  • [15] Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, page 256; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, pages 310, 312, 336, 373, 547, & 1207.
  • [16] Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, page 256; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 311.
  • [17] Hisayan, Edessa, pages 42-43. Arevian, History of Edessa, pages 47-51 & 131.
  • [18] Arevian, History of Edessa, page 68.
  • [19] Ibid., pages 138-139.
  • [20] Hisayan, Edessa, pages 46-47; Arevian, History of Edessa, pages 62 & 131.
  • [21] Hisayan, Edessa, pages 47-48; Arevian, History of Edessa, pages 54-55 & 130-131; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 597.
  • [22] Hisayan, Edessa, pages 44-45.
  • [23] Ibid., page 48.
  • [24]Ibid., page 48; Arevian, History of Edessa, page 130; Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, page 256.
  • [25] Arevian, History of Edessa, page 119; Arevian, History of Ourfa in the 19th Century, page 258; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, pages 312, 660, & 664.
  • [26] Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 335.
  • [27] Arevian, History of Edessa, page 131; Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 562.
  • [28] Sahagian, Mythical Ourfa, page 567.