The Armenian Church has canonised 1.5 million people in what is believed to be the biggest ceremony of its kind in history.
Thursday’s (April 23) event took place in Echmiadzin, Armenia’s main church. Constructed in 4 AD, it is believed to be the Christian community’s oldest cathedral.
April 24, 2015, will mark 100 years since the start of a tragedy in which up to a million and a half Armenians were deported and killed at the hands of Ottoman Turkish forces.
Armenia, France, the European Parliament and Pope Francis are among those recognising the massacre as genocide.
Turkey denies any genocidal intent, insisting on lack of evidence and claiming the Armenian deaths were a consequence of fighting during World War I.
Khosrov Frangyan was five in 1915. He was one of just 28 survivors.
“Somebody told us Turks were going to come and start killing us,” he said. “Some of the residents of our village left for the east, others left for Christian villages in Arab countries.”
Millions across the world are expected to commemorate the anniversary.
French president, François Hollande, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin will attend memorial events in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Friday.