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Armenian Churches Around the World

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 PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 10:38 am    Post subject: Armenian Churches Around the World Reply with quote Back to top

I start with Lebanon.


The Library

Called to serve as Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Lebanon at the most critical period of Lebanese history, His Holiness has made the following priorities the basic objectives of his pastoral work: reorganizing parishes and schools, reactivating social and church organizations, renewing community leadership and strengthening relationships between the Christian and Moslem communities.

On 28 June 1995, he was elected Catholicos by the Electoral Assembly of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. He was consecrated on l July 1995.

During his many years of service, His Holiness displayed a wide range of interests and assumed important responsibilities in the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, as well as in the world-wide ecumenical movement.

For many years he lectured on Armenological and theological subjects at the Armenian Seminary and at the Haigazian University (Lebanon). In addition to his numerous articles in Armenian, English and French (some of which have been translated into Arabic, German, Spanish and Swedish) which have appeared in local and international periodicals, His Holiness Aram I has authored the following works: [more]

Two Catholicosates within the Armenian Church
The existence of two Catholicosates within the Armenian Church, namely the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin (the Catholicosate of All Armenians), Etchmiadzin-Armenia, and the Catholicosate of the Graet House of Cilicia, Antelias-Lebanon, is due to historical circumstances. In the 10th century, when Armenia was devastated by Seljuks, many Armenians left their homeland and came to settle in Cilicia where they re-organized their political, ecclesiastical and cultural life. The Catholicosate also took refuge in Cilicia.

In 1375 the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was destroyed. Cilicia became a battleground for hostile Seljuks, Mamluks and other invaders. In the meantime Armenia was having a relatively peaceful time. The deteriorating situation in Cilicia on one hand and the growing cultural and ecclesiastical awakening in Armenia on the other, led the bishops of Armenia to elect a Catholicos in Etchmiadzin. The latter was the original seat of the Catholicosate, but it had ceased to function as Catholicossal See after 485. Thus, in 1441, a new Catholicos was elected in Etchmiadzin in the person of Kirakos Virapetsi. At the same time Krikor Moussapegiants (1439-1446) was the Catholicos of Cilicia. Therefore, since 1441, there have been two Catholicosates in the Armenian Church with equal rights and privileges, and with their respective jurisdictions. The primacy of honor of the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin has always been recognized by the Catholicosate of Cilicia.

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The Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias
During World War I (1915-1918), one and a half million Armenians were massacred by the Turks. In 1921, when the French forces evacuated Cilicia,
a second wave of massacres ordered by Kemalist Turkey took the lives of another three hundred thousand Armenians. The rest of the Armenians were forced to leave their homeland and found refuge mostly in Syria and Lebanon. The Catholicosate in Sis was robbed and ruined by the Turks. Catholicos Sahak II followed his flock in exile.

After wandering in Syria and Lebanon, in 1930, he established the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon. Thus, a new era opened in the history of the Catholicosate with the organization of Dioceses and the founding of a new theological seminary. The Armenian people spread all over the world looked at the Catholicosate with new hopes and expectations.

In order to fulfill the great task now entrusted to the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in the Armenian Diaspora, Catholicos Sahak II, already advanced in age, asked the help of Archbishop Papken Gulesserian, who was enthroned as Coadjutor-Catholicos in 1931. Soon a printing press was established in Antelias, a monthly review under the name of HASK (Ear of Corn) started to get published regularly, together with a number of religious, educational, historical and philological publications. The Coadjutor-Catholicos Papken I passed away in 1936, after five years of intensive and fruitful activities.

Archbishop Bedros Saradjian, Primate of the Armenians in Cyprus, was nominated Vicar-General to Catholicos Sahak II. By the donation of Simon and Mathilde Kayekjian, the property of the Catholicosate was purchased from the American Near East Relief organization, which 1922-1928 had run an Armenian orphanage in the same place where the Catholicosate was located in 1930. The Cathedral was built through the donation of an unknown benefactor, whose name, Sarkis Kenadjian, was announced only after his death. A Chapel in memory of the one and a half million Armenian martyrs, as well as a residence for the Catholicos and a new Seminary building were constructed one after the other. Catholicos Sahak died in 1939. He was succeeded by Catholicos Bedros I, who passed away the following year.

The election of the new Catholicos took place in 1943 and the Primate of the Armenian Church in North America, Archbishop Karekin Hovsepiantz, was elected Catholicos. During his pontificate (1945-1952), the Catholicosate flourished primarily in the area of cultural activities. Catholicos Karekin I, being a great scholar, encouraged the higher studies in the Seminary and gave impetus to Armenological publications and conferences. The scope of the work of the Catholicosate was considerably widened.

Four years elapsed between his death and the election of his successor, Catholicos Zareh I Payaslian (1956-1963), the first graduate of the Seminary of Antelias. Catholicos Zareh I was an experienced church leader, having served as Primate of Aleppo (Syria) for sixteen years. During his short reign, the service of the Catholicosate was extended to various communities in the Diaspora who had been in desperate need of spiritual care for many years and the Seminary was given particular attention. His personal insights and saintly life had a determining influence on all and especially the seminarians who entered the service of the Church. The relations of the Catholicosate with other churches and states of the Middle East were strengthened. In 1962, the Catholicosate became a full member of the World Council of Churches and sent observers to the Vatican Council II. His close associate, Archbishop Khoren I Paroyan, the Primate of the Armenian Church in Lebanon, succeeded him in 1963.

Under the pontificate of Khoren I, the Catholicosate went through an era of achievements in various domains. Through his strenuous efforts the Catholicosate reached financial stability; the terrain of the Catholicosate was expanded and new constructions came to meet the growing needs of the Catholicosate. In 1977, Catholicos Khoren wished to have an assistant.

op Karekin II Sarkissian, the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the USA, was elected Coadjutor-Catholicos. Although 18 years of his pontificate were difficult years in Lebanon because of the civil war, Catholicos Karekin II succeeded to elevate the Catholicosate of Cilicia to a new level of witness and service. He improved the printing house, restarted the publication of the annual "HASK Armenological", established the Christian Education Department, organized seminars on contemporary issues, and enlarged the scope of the ecumenical involvement of the Catholicosate. In April 1995 Catholicos Karekin II was elected Catholicos of All Armenians in Etchmiadzin, Armenia.

In 1995, Archbishop Aram Keshishian, the Primate of the Armenian Church in Lebanon, was elected Catholicos by an Electoral Assembly composed of 185 clergy and lay delegates. [more]
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 PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

wow tami
thank you for the infp
but where did u get those pics from
they are too old actually especially the last one
i can tell u if u go there now u can never recognise the place cos it is the main highway in Antelias and it is full of shops and cars and on the other side there are the swimming places

anywyas, to be around the sub ject. yes thisis the biggest Armenian church in Lebanon with its museum (tankaran) and the tombs ans the Armenian genocide memorial place. worth going and seeing it whenver ur in Lebanon

I wil try to come up with the Armenian churches in Engalnd
althogh we have three but i belive only the building strucutre of one of them is Armenian, whcih is St. Sarkis in London (a very very small church -but an old one)
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 PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

but the first pics are new ones, Anna. And the last one is regarding the text around the year 77.

When I saw this pics I remembered Easter 02, i just arrived to leb and we directly came to church (Antelias)....I was asking hrant if later in the evening we were going to see our friends and he said "i dont know, we can try so"...suddenly there was a girl screaming out "agchiiiiiiiiiikk" and i saw Anna and Co..........
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 PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

yeah i remember that .VERY well. Laughing
it was really fun, from all that crowd of i dont know how many thousand ppl .....
gr8 days
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 PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

yeah it was the typical situation of armenian love-stories (old films) where people suddenly meet each other in the churches garden between thousands of people lol
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 PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Armenian Church

The oldest church in Singapore is the Armenian Church of St Gregory the Illuminator. Built in 1835, it was designed by George Coleman and is considered his masterpiece. Its imposing white portico is supported by colonnades, flanked on both sides by elevated balustrades and crowned with a tall spire

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 PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Are there only 2 Armenian Churches all around the world? I want to see more of them!

What about the one in Geneva... Are there any online pictures?
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 PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

There is a link for a list with all armenian churches around the world:


The armenian church in geneva is called "Sourp Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church", but I still found no further informations and pictures about this church in the internet. Perhaps someone else?
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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2004 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

The explanation above about the two Catholicosates is interesting. Unfortunately, sometimes when it comes to religions and churches, the truth can be obscured by myths, legends and other fictional stories. The existence of the two Catholicosates is more a source of division among Armenians worldwide than anything else. The presence of two Catholicos' is testimony to the very political nature of the events that have shaped the Armenian Church to this day. You can check the following link if you want to see what I mean:


There is more to the Armenian identity than the Armenian Church.
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 PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Visit to Armenian Jerusalem

Come to discover uniqueness of Armenian Quarter
Ron Peled

The Armenian and Jewish peoples have several things in common: Both have a defined religion and nationality, both have a past of continuous pogroms and persecutions, and both have been subjected to genocide – the Armenians during the first World War and the Jews during the second. Both peoples have realized their age-old dreams of national independence in the modern period, we in 1948, and the Armenians in 1991.

To our happiness, both Jews and Armenians have quarters in the Old City of Jerusalem – and this time we will visit the pearl of the Armenian Quarter, The Saint James Church.

The uniqueness of the Armenian Quarter is its being placed within its own walls, in addition to the walls of the Old City. The Quarter, sort of its own enclosed ghetto, takes up around a sixth of the territory of the Old City, and is home to around 2,000 Armenian, both secular and religious (another point in common with the Jewish people). Most earn a livelihood from local businesses, artwork (like the famous ceramics), printing and academe.

Photo: Ron Peled
Saint James Church (Photo: Ron Peled)
Most of the Armenian Quarter is closed to foreigners outside the framework of organized tour groups arranged in advance. The Church and the Armenian museum that is located not far from it are the only places open to the broad public.

The romance of the Armenians with Christianity is one of the earliest: They were the first people that converted to Christianity, even before Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. The holy books were translated already into Armenian in that period, and the Armenian community in Jerusalem is the oldest in the world.

Entry to Saint James Church is open to the public only between the hours of 3:00-3:30 p.m. every day, prayer time for the monks and priests and it is important not to miss it.

The Armenian Quarter is most easily accessed from Zion or Jaffa Gates, both of which feature parking lots nearby. From either, follow the road around 200 meters (656 ft) to a sign indicating the entrance to the Armenian Quarter. The Quarter's adorned gate leads to an antique wooden door, behind which is a plaza leading straight into the church.

Nakos and Katshkerim

Engraved in the wall over the wooden door are a number of ancient Armenian inscriptions, decorations and crosses, called "Katshkerim." They have great artistic importance and they are considered rare in our environs. Pay attention to the grave of the Armenian Patriarch and its impressive iconic painting attached to the wooden gate.

Inside the Church are two hanging tablets – a wooden tablet on the right and an iron tablet on the left. These are the "Nakos" –cymbals. Until the mid 19th century and the end of the rule of Egyptian Muhammad Ali, Muslims forbid Christians to ring the church bells (in a certain period they also forbid Jews from blowing the shofar). Today the Nakos call the priests to prayer

As a point of interest, additional "Nakos" can be seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter.

Don't cross your legs

It is important to remember that speaking in the Church is forbidden. In addition, the monks will not allow guests to cross their legs while sitting. Photography is permitted, although I was asked once not to use flash.

The present structure, built in the shape of a cross, dates to the 12th century. It is small, but there is infinite wealth for the eye to see (and is likely to cause shock among some visitors).

We raise our glance to the dome, featuring an impressive Star of David. To the left on the northern wall are three Capella, or prayer altars, dedicated to three individuals: Bishop Makarios, one of the first bishops of Jerusalem, the second, James, is the church's namesake and is Armenia's holiest saint; the third is in a small room dedicated to Minas, the Armenian Saint. This is the oldest room in the Church, dating to the sixth century.

Story of two Yaakovs

James, known in Hebrew as Yaakov, the brother of Johannan, was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. According to Christian tradition his head was chopped off by Herod Agrippas in the year 44 CE. His head is buried here, in a small room off the Church, and the rest of his body is scattered in burial sites around the Church.

A star on the floor of the Capella indicates the place where the head is buried. Pay attention to the entry doors to the tomb, as they are decorated with the armor of turtles and clams. Many believers enter the church especially to kiss the opening to James' tomb.

In the center of the church is the central Capella, called in Christianity "Opsis". Here, the altar another Yaakov is buried, the brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem. His body was brought here from Nahal Kidron.

A Chain and Eggs

Broad renovation work was undertaken in the church at the beginning of the 18th century by the Armenian Patriarch Gregory "Bearer of the Chain". He received the nickname because he wore a heavy chain around his neck as a sign of enslavement, until he obtained the money to repay debts in which the Armenian community in Jerusalem had become submerged. His journey through Armenia succeeded beyond expectations and the money he collected was even sufficient to rehabilitate the church and build the walls of the Quarter.

Those familiar with Jerusalem churches such as the Holy Sepulchre or Miriam's Tomb in Nahal Kidron will know that Orthodox churches and cappella often contain oil lamps hung from the ceiling. Over every lamp and at the end of every rope it is possible to see ceramic ostrich eggs decorated with various paintings and drawings (that symbolize the various streams of Christianity).

Today the eggs are a pleasant decoration, but in the past they are believed to have played a more crucial role: Mice and rats used to climb the walls and descend the rope to the lamp, an entertaining perhaps but not especially popular among the monks. The slippery ostrich eggs caused the rodents to slip off the rope.

Saint James Church: Every day 15:00-15:30. The entry is free of charge, Tel: 02-6282331

Armenian Museum: Monday through Saturday 9:30-16:30 Tel: 02-6282331

(11.20.05, 21:20)
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