On Wednesday, Father Movses Shannakian was joined by a dozen ministers as they visited Adventist Health Glendale, formerly Glendale Adventist Medical Center, to partake in the annual Blessing of the Grapes ceremony.
Armenian churches around the world recently celebrated the religious ceremony dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
“The main event is Sunday. Wednesday is just a tradition we have in Glendale,” said Shannakian of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America after the ceremony.
Every second Sunday of August, members of Armenian churches sing, chant and pray in celebration. Priests enhance the atmosphere with incense from a censer as people eat and dance.
Every year on the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, Armenian ministers lead attendees in prayer and worship in the hospital’s chapel. The grapes are blessed and then passed around to patients.
Rev. Vazken Atmajian of St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church officiated the ceremony with about 40 people in attendance, he said.
“Since grapes were the first fruits of the harvest, the Holy Spirit is called upon to make the grapes holy and those who partake of them receive healing and spiritual nourishment,” said Naira Khosrovian, marketing and communications specialist at Adventist Health Glendale.
Shannakian recalled telling people in attendance that at the core of God’s word is sharing love with the world.
“We must all make love a priority,” Shannakian said.