St. Mary Armenian Church

Dating from 1350, the ‘St. Mary’ Church is the oldest place of worship built by Armenian communities in Europe, but also the first stone made Orthodox church in Botosani. The Holy Scriptures written on parchment in 1354, the earliest known and surviving book from Botosani, were kept until 1950 in the altar of the ‘St. Mary’ Church. The first Christian cemetery discovered in Botosani lies near the church, with graves dating from the 15th century and tombstones carrying not yet deciphered Armenian inscriptions.
The ‘St. Mary’ Church is the oldest Armenian church in Europe. On August 16 this year we have celebrateb 669 years since its founding, 669 years of uninterrupted service in a church, says the head of the Armenian community in Botosani, Viorica Popa.
The church was left in an advanced state of decay until the early ’90s. It took almost 20 years to restore the historic monument, with direct financial support from the Romanian Government, the Ministry of Culture and the local budget of the Botosani municipality. The ‘St. Mary’ Church was the growth center around which the Armenian quarter developed in the 14th century, a quarter whose residents were mainly Armenian merchants who left their country after the -devastating earthquake of 1319, which completely destroyed the once flourishing city of Ani, the capital of Armenia.
In that year, many Armenians migrated to Botosani and Suceava, leaving their homeland after an earthquake devastated their capital city,in order to build a new life here” writes priest and ethnographer Dan Dimitrie in his work “Orthodox Armenians in Bucovina.”
The church completely collapsed, but was rebuilt in 1795. Overlooking the courtyard is the old bell tower and the old parish house still stands there.The feel of the Armenian neighborhood is even nowadays strongly present thanks to the architecture of the houses built as of the 1800s.
It is an honor for the people in Botosani to keep such a valuable piece of history in our city, this church meaning so much for the Armenian community and being a milestone in the history of our city.

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