The Armenian Church of St. John the
Baptist in Rangoon
Unfortunately the records for this Church were lost during World War II.
However the Armenian cemeteries in Mandalay, Syriam and Rangoon indicate
that Armenians first came to India from Iran around 1608, some of them
went on to Burma and settled there, playing a prominent part in the
promotion of trade, especially in the three towns mentioned above.
In the 18th century they constructed the Church of St. Gregory the
Illuminator in Mandalay, on a plot of land graciously presented to them
by His Majesty the King of Burma. In this Church, divine services
were held regularly until the 1920's, when the community in Mandalay
gradually moved down to Rangoon.
The Church of St. John the Baptist in Rangoon was erected by the
community there in the year 1862 on land they had acquired in October
1858. This Church was formally consecrated on the
17th July 1863
by Revd. Father Aviet Chaytor, the then resident priest. The
church was internally remodelled with a new roof during 1908-1909.
Update October 2012
I am grateful to Henri Aslanian of Hong Kong for permitting me to use
photographs from his recent trip to Myanmar. I reproduce his photographs
and comments with full acknowledgement and thanks to Henri.
Henri says: "....Met the only
Armenian still living in Myanmar - a 86 years old Mr. Martin (Mardirossian)
whose brother still lives in Bangladesh and whom I met last year in
Dhaka - and visited the Armenian Church of Myanmar in Rangoon (built in
1862-exactly 150 years ago this year). The church is located in prime
real estate, still standing and is under renovation. The Armenians
arrived in Burma as early as 1612 and were some of the first foreigners
in Burma but they left in the mid-20th century when the military
government took power. They built some of the most impressive landmarks
in the country including the famous Strand Hotel. Even after all these
years living in Asia and travelling extensively throughout South East
Asia, I am still impressed by the amazing footprints that these
Armenians left in this part of the world including Singapore, Malaysia,
Indonesia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and India. Part of Armenian history
that many don't know about...Very inspiring..."
Henri says: ".......The Armenian Church is truly a jewel... following
a recent donation by a Russian Armenian, the Church is undergoing minor
renovations but there are lots of seriously incredible pieces of
Armenian religious items in the Church that are simply getting destroyed
The entrance to the Armenian Church
The commemorative wall plaque of the church.
The gate entrance.
Outside of the Armenian Church. Following a recent donation from
someone in Russia, they are renovating the pavement.
The church bells
Vestments are are no longer used at this church and are stored
in a trunk, the hot humid weather continuously eats away at the
old precious items.
"We opened this big box and inside were
dozens of Church clothes that are all in terrible
condition....these are all pieces of Armenian history that
should be preserved"
Henri With Mr. Basil Martin (86 years
old). The only Armenian left in Myanmar.
Mr. Martin's house is next to the Russian Embassy.
Henri outside the church. Right: The entrance gate.
Almost a complete family wiped out.
Click on the dancing skeleton to go
to the Armenian Graves page
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