|The cathedral has an L-shaped composition framing an entrance court of
114 feet long by 72 feet wide. It is elevated five feet above street level. It is sheathed
in limestone with one story granite base and exterior staircase.
The main entrance
faces a spacious plaza.
The Design above the door
to main entrance depicts images of Saint Vartan, the Brave. It is patterned after similar
designs found on the exterior of the ancient Armenian Church on the island of Aghtamar in
Lake Van. The image on the right depicts St. Vartan, receiving the blessing of His
Holiness Catholicos Hovsep. The image on the left depicts his military and peaceful
natures. The helmet at the left foot shows the military nature, and the animal on his
right represents his peaceful nature.
The interior of St. Vartan Cathedral is a simple, yet traditional, structure.
It has two distinct features that are found in many ancient Armenian Churches -- the
double intersecting arches; and the dome. But many of the other features represent an
effort to recall Armenian tradition.
The Arches span the edifice from end to end creating a centralized space that
eliminates the need for columns that would otherwise obstruct the view of the altar. The
spaciousness and centralized interior is representative to the immediate participation in
The Dome - The dome in
the center of the cathedral is twenty-seven feet high and forty-five feet in diameter and
is supported by the crowns of the four arches. Directly in the center of the dome is
painted the Armenian letter I which translates "He is" in English. The
circles surrounding the dome depict images of Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. And the
eight stained glass windows around the dome depict the events in the story of creation.
The Chandeliers: The chandeliers even though, they appear to be modern are
actually reconstructed modes of the seventh century fixtures found in Armenia.
The Altar: The altar
faces East, the traditional position for Christian churches. Crosses are hung without the
body of Christ on them because Armenians like to emphasize the resurrection and glorified
Lord, not suffering and dying.
The Side Altar to the left is dedicated to Saint Gregory the Enlightened and the
altar to the right is dedicated to Saint Neresess Shnorhali. The Divine Liturgy (mass) is
celebrated on the main altar.
Stained Glass Windows- There are six traditional Armenian Church windows that
are high and narrow from the floor to the ceiling crowned with a rounded arch. The windows
represent biblical events and memorial events in the history of the Armenian Church.
Stone Crosses - The stone crosses in this cathedral date back to the fifteenth
century that were discovered in the ruins of a church in Armenia. Sixteen stones represent
the twelve apostles and two evangelists St. Paul and St. Gregory the Illuminator.
The Circle Seal: In Center of the Nave is a marble insert under the dome that is
dedicated to God and the people who enter. The inserts states "Ye are the salt of the
earth, but if the salt hath lost His savor, wherewith shall it be salted." (Matthew
5:13) The two dates on the seal represent the date which Christianity was accepted as the
state religion in Armenia (301) and the year St. Vartan's was consecrated (1968.)