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2013-01-17 11:36:42 Views : 3302 |


Translated by: Aziz Emmanuel Zebari

Armota is a village 3 km to the west of Koysenjaq. It belongs to pre-Islamic times as an inhabited Christian town. There are two views as to the meaning of its name: the first one maintains that it means pomegranates or a pomegranates orchard due to the abundance of this fruit there. The second one relates it to a Syriac compound name Ara’a  D’mota ( Land of Death). The latter is more accepted due to the many tragic events that befell the town throughout its history; for it was targeted by many attacks. The price was always dear which the village paid in the blood of its people that was shed and their properties. In 1943, the village was looted and pillaged and the church library was burned.

It is believed that the Christians of Armota are older than those of Koysenjaq. Some of them came from Heran Khoshnaw near Shaqlawa but were scattered about and dispersed in different cities like Koysanjaq, Sulaymania, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Karmles, Ainkawa, and other cities.


The church of Mar Yousif was built in one of the orchards in 1923. It still contains remains of old ancient graves. The second church is Mar Michael which was surrounded by the cemetery of the Christians of Koysenjaq before the establishment of the present common cemetery. The third church is Virgin Mary (Crop Protector) Church, now the main church. It was built in 1868, by a benevolent named Yousif Sarfyan, a rich Armenian from the Turkish city of Toqan, under the care of Father Shema’un  during the time of Bishop Youhanna Tamraz , Patriarch Yousif Odo, and Pope Pius 1X. The church was expanded under the supervision of Father Matti Kosa, the religious from Shaqlawa through contribution made by the villagers and support from Yousif Sarfyan the grandson of the above-mentioned benevolent. In 1963, the village was looted due to the prevalent state of turmoil in the area.   



Mart Shmooni Shrine:

This shrine lies to the west of the village near the present cemetery. It is visited by people for prayer and supplication.

The priests who served in Armota were: Sliwa Rassam, Elias Sher al-Raheb, Gewargis Matti, Eliya Markus from Tellesqef, Polus Abdoka Sleman Shekho al-Raheb, Isaac Butrus, Yousif Sleman, Matti Kosa al-Raheb, Eliya Hanna al-Qas Waheed Toma, and now Father Dekha Toma who comes from the same village.


The monastery of Mar Bena

The monastery of Mar Behnam, also know as Mar Bena, lies 3 kms to the village of Armota at the foot of  the 1260ft- high Mountain Bawachi, near the village of Topzawa. It is built of stone and gypsum. Behind it is a big cemetery. There are two views regarding its history which is related to the history of the well know monastery of Mar Behnam in the suburbs of Mosul which was built in honour of Mar Behnam and his sister Sara, who are said to have been among the Sassanid martyrs during the persecution campaign launched by Shpur II in 363 AD. The second view maintains that when the Mongol attacks reached the Monastery of Mar Behnam  in Mosul, the monks and priests were forced  to move towards the village of Armota where they built this monastery which they called Mar Behnam. There used to be a Syriac inscription on the inner wall of the monastery before its collapse  dating back to 1714 according to the Greek Calender, i.e., 1403 AD which reads that Keekhwa Ogat , a notable from Armota, built it. Still in another place there was another Syriac inscription which reads “ Pray for me and for us” . It is also worth mentioning that the monastery was bombed and destroyed in 1988. The faithful, however, wanted to restore it back to its former state.

Thus, in 1996 a member of the village community, Ya’aqub Basi and his sons reconstructed the five important rooms in the monastery. Then a joint committee comprising members from both Koysenjaq and Armota began a campaign of fund raising to expand the monastery and reconstruct some of the old arches and pillars that were built of stone and gypsum. The monastery was opened in 1996 on its holiday on the first Friday after Easter.   

Achievements of Mr. Sarkis Aghajan

Mr. Sarkis Aghajan carried out many works which include expansion and reconstruction of the village churches, monasteries and shrines. He also provided the village with access roads, power supply generators, vehicles, ciber cafés. The village was also afforested and water wells were also dug. He also provided the cemetery, the community hall, shrines, and churches with modern equipment, water for both consumption and irrigation. He also purchased a plot of land to build a church.  


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