Yot Verk Church, Gyumri, Armenia
Yot Verk Church (The Seven Wounds) which is also known as Sourb Astvatsatsin ( St. Virgin Mary) is located in Gyumri, Armenia. Earlier it was a chapel erected by Kamsarakan princes, where the icon “The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary” was kept. That’s why the church built later was named Yot Verk (translated from Arm. “seven wounds”). The construction of the church started in 1873 and ended in 1884. It was consecrated by Catholicos Gevorg V.
Yot Verk Church is a rectangular outside and cross-domed inside building. The side-chapels are to the both sides of the altar. A spiral staircase leads to the second floor. Three adjoining prayer halls side the northern and western walls. There is a belfry in front of the western entrance of the church. The church is crowned with one main and two additional domes. The two of them suffered during the earthquake in 1988.
The original interior of the church is not typical for the Armenian churches. Yot Verk is the only Armenian church, the altar of which has an iconostasis. Usually the altar in Armenian churches is rather ascetic. Iconostasis is typical to Orthodox churches. This orthodox element is most likely to appear during the Russo-Turkish war when Gyumri (Alexandropole at that time) was a Russian town-fortress.
The interior of the church is generously decorated with paintings. One can see a many-figured composition with an image of Jesus Christ on the right wall and a mural painting depicting Resurrection scene (XVII) on the left. There is an image of Virgin Mary with the Child (author – famous painter Surenyants) in the middle of the altar and four wall paintings straight below the dome (height – 12m).
Yot Verk is the only Armenian church which has 5 different altars for various religious communities. The main altar served to the Armenian Apostolic church. Sourb Yot Verk (Holly Seven Wounds) altar was used by the Orthodox priests, and the altar of Holly Trinity by the Catholic priests. The altar of St. Sargis served to the Assyrians. There are two altars on the second floor too. If the dates of religious ceremonies coincided, the preference was given to Armenians.
By Natalia Ghukasyan, www.building.am