The Tufenkian Foundation (TF), Artsakh’s Ministry of Culture, and the Armenian Apostolic Church recently completed the restoration of Saint Stepanos church in the village of Hochants, found in the liberated Kashatagh region.
Today, during the official re-opening of the church, Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, Primate of the Artsakh Diocese, re-consecrated the 17th-century basilica, making it a functioning church again. Also present were more than 70 villagers from Hochants and nearby areas, along with representatives of the local government.
The church is one of several spiritual and cultural sites that TF has included in its resettlement and development programs in the Kashatagh region. The small church will now be open for parishioners, visitors, tourists, and explorers as it forms a unique piece of the liberated territories’ rich Armenian heritage.
“We regularly focus on developing communities and investing in local economies here in Kashatagh,” noted TF Trustee Antranig Kasbarian. At the same time, sites like St. Stepanos represent an immense, centuries-old cultural heritage that is the treasure of Artsakh. When visiting these sites, one quickly understands that Kashatagh is not ‘occupied territory,’ as some would claim, but a longstanding hearth of Armenian Christianity.”
TF continues to support the preservation of cultural heritage in Artsakh. The most recent renovation was completed through generous support from friends in the U.S. In prior years, TF completed similar restoration works in the St. Minas church in nearby Hak village, and the medieval Dadivank monastery complex.“This region is famous for its churches and monasteries. Many of them are masterpieces, and sadly, we cannot pay much attention to all the sites. Thankfully, small steps like this can encourage more Armenians to join the renovation and preservation projects around Artsakh.” said Archbishop Martirosyan.
St. Stepanos church dates back to the 17th century. It was a thriving community church before the Armenian population was forced to vacate some of the territories in the Kashatagh region.
TF also has undertaken several resettlement projects in Hochants village, including the renovation of homes as well as the local school.
Founded in 1999 by entrepreneur James Tufenkian, the Tufenkian Foundation has worked in Artsakh for over 15 years. Its on-the-ground efforts feature the promotion of resettlement, infrastructure, healthcare, and economic development programs.
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