The Cathia Hamparian Virtual Children’s Memorial
The world’s first immersive virtual sacred space to commemorate children who passed away.
The Cathia Hamparian Children’s Memorial is the world’s first immersive virtual sacred space to commemorate children who passed away. The project integrates the use of innovative metaverse technology, virtual reality, and photogrammetry to create a moving heart experience and bring people together in a virtual community space that is capable of holding up to 500 people at any time 24/7 365 days a year.
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Within this environment, families were able to celebrate their loved ones – the children who were taken before their time.
The In His Shoes Ministry of the Western Diocese holds the annual Children’s Memorial and Candle Lighting service annually since the tragic death of Cathia Hamparian in 1997. The Children’s Memorial, which bears Cathia’s name, has unfortunately grown with the addition of more children.
According to Fr. Vazken Movsesian, who directs both In His Shoes and Epostle.net, “This was a natural fusion of our outreach programs with technology. Since early this year, Epostle.net has been working on various web-structures from ancient altars to digital arenas. We’re excited to be collaborating with creative director Gregory Beylerian to bring this dimension of the Armenian Church to the expanding digital universe.”
The Memorial has been built around a virtual model of the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Artsakh, as a reminder of the children, life and land that was lost this year with the atrocities in Nagorna Karabakh. Accordingly, there is a child sponsorship program was launched on this day as well..
The loss of a child is indeed the most tragic of all life experiences. Especially difficult is the holiday season when gatherings and festivities highlight the loss that families must endure. The second Sunday of December has been designated Children’s Memorial Day in the United States by President’s Clinton’s proclamation in 1997. The “doors” of the Cathia’s Children’s Memorial opened at midnight December 10, 2023 and remains open.
Conversation With Father Vazken
Watch this conversation with Father Vazken Movsesian and Gregory Beylerian as they walk and talk around The Virtual Cathia Hamparian Children’s Memorial. The conversation explores the sacred potential of virtual spaces created in the metaverse and how the dynamics of community, spirituality and heritage come together in this immersive virtual space to be a new possibility for humanity. Background music by Yeghish Manoukian
Photos taken on opening night of The Virtual Children’s Memorial. Approximately 200 visitors from around the world entered this immersive metaverse space in the first 24 hours, interacting with each other and bonding on the shared experience of having lost a child.