The old Armenian royal road leads through the canyon of Hrozdan river from Yerevan to Bjni. Large balls of purple flowers bloom next to us on the steep cliff walls, a thin carpet of fresh green grass covers the riverbank. The landscape has changed a lot since the winter, when we traveled here between walls of snow, on the single-lane road cut into the white blanket that evenly covered the region.
Arriving in the village, we stop on the bridge, below the castle, built by the Pahlavuni princes in the 11th century, just after the supervision of the military road from Sevan to Yerevan was entrusted to them by the Bagratuni kings. The handrail of the bridge is supported by the descendants of the ancient Armenian garrison soldiers, they shyly smile, and joke with each other, a bit confused when all the ladies in the bus direct their cameras at them. Old women are gathering something in the grass on the riverbanks. “What are they gathering?” asks Dorka of one of them, as she climbs up on the riverbank. “Herbs.” “And what are they good for?” “Everything, my sweetie, absolutely everything in the world!”
Among the khackars carved with birds, an old man is hoeing weeds in front of one khachkar, carved of white stone. “It belongs to my son. He fell in the war, so we were permitted by the Catholicos to bury him here, right into the church garden. The stone is a replica of a khachkar destroyed by the Azerbaijani army in the cemetery of Julfa. We carved it after a photo.”
The Sunday Mass must have recently ended, the priest is having a snack with some women in the church garden. The light breaks through the darkness inside the church, a beam like a blade, just as it did one year ago in the Armenian church of Lemberg. I tell the others how at that time the director of the church choir came to us and how he sang us their Easter hymn. At this point the priest enters the church. Where did we come from, how do we like Armenia? Then, to illustrate the acoustics of the church, he goes to the lectern in front of the altar, opens the missal printed in Venice in the 17th century printed in the typeface of the Hungarian Miklós Kis of Misztótfalu, and he sings from it the hymn of the Sunday after Easter to the enthralled company.
Bjni, Easter hymn