Turkey‘s Catholic Armenian community held a religious service on Monday, August 14 in the western city of Izmir’s St. John Cathedral Basilica, Daily Sabah reports.
The Mass bears importance for the community as it is the first time they were able to pray in the historic church in 95 years.
The 19th-century basilica, heavily damaged in the Great Izmir Fire in 1922, was handed over to the use of NATO troops based in the city in the 1960s and was left unused for decades before its restoration in 2013.
Rev. Vartan Kazanciyan from an Istanbul Armenian church presided over the religious service attended by some 150 people.
The basilica was among the properties returned to ethnic and religious minorities after decades of discriminatory state policies toward those minorities