ARMENIA - (cont'd)
The photographs and articles of Sonia Katchian were published extensively throughout Japan. Because of the frequency of earthquakes in Japan, this very severe quake in a relatively unknown corner of the world was of intense interest.

In addition to documenting the physical damage to the country and the humanitarian assistance, Sonia had a chance to interview many of Armeniaís top cultural and political leaders.

A private session with then Patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Vazken II, at his office in the ecclesiastical town of Echmiadzin was a high point. Having been raised in the diaspora herself, Sonia had not been taught the fine points of what one is supposed to do when introduced to His Holiness. Instead of rushing to him and kissing his ring, as is the custom, she just grinned from across the room. She was mortified to hear His Holiness ask the 'translator': "I was told she is Armenian; isnít she Armenian?" Despite the social gaff, she was able to get back into his good graces -- enough to capture some private moments .

Armenia was the first country to accept Christianity as a nation in 301AD. The Armenian alphabet was created specifically (by St Gregory), to record Godís word on vellum and parchment. Medieval Armenian monks and scribes worked feverishly in churches--and in caves when threatened by frequent invaders--to translate the original Greek texts into Armenian for the people of Ararat.

Armeniaís long, rich history has been deeply etched by memories of marauders and incursions from neighboring countries who have tried countless numbers of times to overrun or uproot this ancient people. The most recent attempt was when Turkey tried to 'cleanse' itself of the Armenian 'problem' at the turn of the last century. As a result, Armenians can be found today living all over the world in diaspora. In 1991 Armenia became an independent nation again.

Hear the music of Armenia here:

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