Armenian religious leaders visited a pair of local hospitals this week ahead of Armenian Christmas being celebrated on Wednesday. They blessed the facilities as well as performed the traditional blessing of water.
Glendale Adventist Medical Center celebrated its 110th anniversary last year and with it, more than a century of being a faith-based hospital.
One of the newer traditions was to observe the holiday celebrations of the large local Armenian community.
“And so this place has been a place of faith forever, for as long as it has existed, so it seems personally fitting to bring in that faith community and those words and blessings,” said Kevin Roberts, the hospital’s chief executive, on Monday.
“What we have seen and witnessed last year in the world brings pain to our hearts,” he said.
As he stood before the crowd of more than 100 people, mostly doctors and other medical staffers, Derderian said that everyone at the ceremony was entering the doorway to a new journey for the year.
“We pray for all of you, for those who are in operations, who are serving patients. We pray for all those who are contributing to the well-being of Adventist Hospital,” he said.
Derderian proceeded to bless a large pile of gatas — an Armenian pastry — and a pot of water with holy oil sourced from Armenia every seven years.
The blessing of the water symbolizes the baptism of Jesus Christ. The Jan. 6 date is referred to as the Epiphany or the Holy Nativity of Christ.
It’s always been the day the Armenian Orthodox Church observes Christmas, but for many other denominations, the date was moved to Dec. 25.
“We are keeping the old tradition,” said Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, prelate of the western United States.
He and fellow priests recited religious chants in Armenian and English for those in attendance at a similar blessing ceremony on Monday at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital.
During the blessing Mardirossian offered his best wishes for the coming year there, too.
“May God offer protection and peace upon this facility, beseeching him to guide you in your healing mission and to grant help to those under your nurturing care,” he said.