NYC by the Movies

Miracle on 34th St – St Vartan Armenian Cathedral

St. Vartans Armenian ChurchSt. Vartan Armenian Church at 34th Street and 2nd Avenue was built to resemble was built to resemble the Saint Hripsime Church in Etchmiadzin (Vagharshapat). The church opened in 1968 and includes two unique features distinct to Armenian architecture: the use of double-intersecting arches and a pyramidal dome soaring 120 feet above street level.

There are various symbols of the church around the inside dome, but outside you can see the beautiful stained glass windows just below the dome. These windows depict scenes in the life of Christ and early Christianity in Armenia. The patron saint of the cathedral, St. Vartan, is shown fighting the Persians who threatened the Armenian Church during the fifth century.

The Armenian Church started looking for land in NYC in the 1940s and purchased land on 2nd Avenue near the Queens Midtown tunnel because it was convenient for those living on Long Island and the land was still relatively inexpensive. They purchased over 25,000 square feet for $616,601. The cornerstone was laid in 1965 and building took about 3 years.

There are about one million Armenians in the United States and Canada today. The Church has two dioceses in the U.S: the Eastern Diocese—known officially as the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)—has jurisdiction over all of the United States except California, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona. The Western Diocese, consisting of the above western states. There are 63 organized and mission parishes in the Eastern Diocese. A third diocese governs all of Canada.

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