Kim Kardashian West says she’s feeling “blessed” after getting a chance to be baptized ― along with three of her kids ― in an ancient cathedral at the center of her Armenian ancestors’ faith.
The reality star shared photos Thursday of the ceremony at the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin in Vagharshapat, Armenia. The cathedral, which traces its history back to the 4th century, is the spiritual center of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the national church of Armenia.
Kardashian West, who is of Armenian descent through her late father, Robert Kardashian, shared photos on Instagram of her 5-month-old son, Psalm, 1-year-old daughter, Chicago, and 3-year-old son, Saint, being baptized. The reality TV star indicated she was also baptized in the cathedral.
Since the Armenian Apostolic Church practices child baptism, adults generally only participate in the ceremony if they weren’t baptized into the denomination as children, according to Christopher Sheklian, director of an Armenian Christian research center in New York City.
Kardashian West’s sister, Kourtney Kardashian, can be spotted in one of the pictures. Both sisters are wearing veils that cover their heads, a traditional practice for women attending church services in Armenia.
The mom also lighted candles at the cathedral with her eldest child, North, who was baptized in a 12th century Armenian church in Jerusalem in 2015.
The cathedral Kardashian West chose for the baptisms is of immense significance to Armenian Christians, according to Salpi Ghazarian, director of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Armenian Studies.
The cathedral is the residence of the church’s chief bishop and considered the denomination’s “mother” cathedral. Members believe that Jesus appeared in a vision to the church’s founder, St. Gregory the Illuminator, and instructed him to build a church on this site. St. Gregory was responsible for converting Armenia’s king to Christianity in 301 A.D., making it the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion.
Since Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union, more people have traveled to the cathedral, and they often take their children, Ghazarian said.
“It represents the country, the nation and people who have been without a country for most of their existence, and so the church has been the rallying point,” she said. “Plus, it’s beautiful ― the architecture, the interior mosaics and paintings. It truly is inspiring.”
Kardashian West has frequently spoken of her Armenian heritage. She’s pushed for the international community to recognize the killing of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians by Ottoman authorities in Turkey during World War I as a genocide. (Turkey denies that this is an appropriate term for the killings.) She has also publicly lashed out at genocide deniers.
Kardashian West visited Armenia for the first time in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre, taking along her husband, eldest daughter, several other members of the family ― and camera crews for the reality series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
During her latest visit, she laid flowers at the Armenian Genocide Memorial with her family.
Sheklian said that, over the years, he’s observed a “mixed reaction” to Kim Kardashian West among Armenian Americans.
“However, I would say that in the past few years, beginning with her earlier trip to Armenia and her increasing advocacy for Armenian causes, that Armenians are proud of her embrace of her Armenian heritage and are happy to have her as a high-profile spokesperson,” he said.
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