Mr. X or Captain Pogossian

Echmiadzin, or, as it is also called, Vagarshapat, is for the Armenians what Mecca is for the Moslems and Jerusalem for the Christians. Here is the residence of the Catholicos of all Armenians, and here also is the centre of Armenian culture. Every year in the autumn big religious festivals are held, to which come many pilgrims not only from all parts of Armenia but from all over the world. A week before the beginning of such a festival all the surrounding roads are filled with pilgrims, some travelling on foot, others in carts and wagons and still others on horses and asses.

I travelled on foot, in company with other pilgrims from Alexandropol, having put my belongings in the wagon of the Molokan sect.

On reaching Echmiadzin I went directly, as was the custom, to worship at all the holy places. I then went into the town to look for a lodging, but it was impossible to find one, since all the inns (hotels did not exist then) were full and more than full; and so I decided to do as many others did—simply establish myself outside the town under a cart or wagon. But as it was still early, I decided first of all to do my errand, that is, find Pogossian and give him the parcel.

He lived not far from the main inn in the house of a distant relative, the Archimandrite Surenian. I found him at home. He was about the same age as I, dark, of medium height, and had a small moustache. His eyes were very sad, but at times they burned with an inner fire. The right eye was slightly crossed. At that time he seemed to be very frail and shy.

He began asking me about his parents, and having learned in the course of the conversation that I had not succeeded in finding lodgings, he ran off and, returning almost immediately, proposed that I should share his room.

I of course accepted, and went at once and brought back all my paraphernalia from the wagon. And I had just finished arranging a bed for myself with Pogossian’s help, when we were called to take supper with Father Surenian, who greeted me affably and asked me about Pogossian’s family and about things in general in Alexandropol.

After supper I went with Pogossian to see the town and the sacred relics. It must be said that during the festival there is a great deal of movement all night in the streets of Echmiadzin, and all the cafés and askhani are open.

84