Arpy Bedrossian has attended the long-cherished Blessing of the Grapes ceremony, one of five major feasts of the Armenian church, since childhood.
And for the past 19 years, she also makes time for the ceremony in the small chapel where she works — Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Bedrossian is the financial adviser for the medical center's healthcare foundation.
Roughly 40 visitors and hospital staff joined Bedrossian for the annual ceremony Wednesday. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Western United States, led the blessing as he's done for many years.
The ceremony included hymns and prayers recited in Armenian, coinciding with St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church's celebrations later this week.
"The patients are moved by the blessing," Mardirossian said. "They know from the grape, there's wine, symbolizing the blood of our Lord."
During the ceremony, Mardirossian asked God to mentally and physically bless those who would partake of the purple and green grapes.
After the ceremony, Mardirossian, accompanied by the Revs. Vazken Atmajian and Ardak Demirjian of St. Mary's, visited patients, circling around their beds and praying in Armenian.
The visit moved one woman, a patient identified as a fall risk, to tears. Her fingertips wiped away falling tears in between making the sign of the cross with her right hand. Mardirossian placed a golden cross on her head, then on her lips for her to kiss.
Each patient who was visited received a plastic bag of grapes blessed at the morning ceremony.
"I dedicated myself to God and his people 38 years ago," Mardirossian said. "That should be our mission. To serve people."
And that's why Bedrossian said the annual ceremony is so important.
"This has been in our culture for so many years," she said. "It's a wonderful service the hospital provides, giving it to the Armenian community."