YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia’s dominant church put a significant Christian relic on display Saturday after rumors that a part of it had been sold prompted protesters to occupy a main church administrative building.
The Spear of Longinus, which the Armenian Apostolic Church says is the lance stabbed into Jesus Christ’s side as he hung on the cross, was displayed at the mother church complex of Etchmiadzin.
Demonstrations calling for the resignation of the church’s leader, Catholicos Garegin II, have persisted for several months. Detractors have claimed Garegin II is married and involved in business activities, which are against church doctrine.
On Friday, several dozen protesters broke into the church chancellery at Etchmiadzin claiming that church museum items and precious stones had been sold. Police forced them out of the church complex.