[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, has taken part in a “sacred and mysterious” chrism service at the Armenian Orthodox Etchmiadzin Cathedral in the city of Vagharshapat, Armenia, at the invitation of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Nourhan Manougian.
The blessing and consecration of the Holy Muron (chrism oil) is one of the most ancient services in the Armenian Church. According to tradition, a portion of the anointing oil blessed by Moses and Aaron in Exodus 30 remained at the time of Jesus. He is said to have blessed it before giving some of it to Saint Jude (Thaddeus) who then took it to Armenia where it was used in the healing of King Abkar.
After being buried, the oil is then said to have been found by Saint Gregory the Illuminator who mixed it with new oil before blessing that. In the Armenian tradition, whenever new chrism oil is blessed, it is first mixed with the remaining oil from the previous batch, “so that the Armenian muron always contains a small amount of the original oil blessed by Moses, Jesus Christ, and Gregory the Illuminator.”
Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother sea of the Armenian Church, is the oldest cathedral in the world. The blessing and consecration of the Holy Muron (chrism) was conducted by the Armenian Primate, His Holiness Karekin I, last month.
Commenting on the service, the Diocese of Jerusalem said: “The blessing and consecration of the Holy Muron is a sacred and mysterious service, which is traditionally held once every five to seven years.
“Muron has two essential elements: a cauldron of olive oil and balsam are mixed with more than 40 varieties of incense, flowers, spices, flower essences, oils and leaves. Forty days prior to the service, the caldron is placed on the altar of the Cathedral and covered with a woven veil and each day a special service is offered after the evening service, in preparation for the blessing on the 40th day.”