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Armenian Catholic Church

Armenian Catholic Church
Emblem of the Armenian Catholic Church
Founder Abraham Petros I Ardzivian
Independence 26 November 1742
Recognition Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Primate Armenian Patriarch of Cilicia Krikor Bedros XX Gabroyan
Headquarters Lebanon
Territory Armenia,
Possessions France, United States, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Canada, Australia, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ukraine, Belarus, Ethiopia, and many others.
Language Armenian
Members 1,000,000
Website "Armenian Catholic Church". Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
Bishops meeting in Jerusalem, circa 1880 (note the Roman pallium worn by the archbishop in the centre).

The Armenian Catholic Church (Armenian: Հայ Կաթողիկէ Եկեղեցի, Hay Kat’oġikē Ekeġec’i) is one of the sui juris Eastern Catholic Churches of the Catholic Church. They accept the leadership over the Church of the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, and therefore are in full communion with the other Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Latin Church. The Armenian Catholic Church is regulated by Eastern canon law.

The head of the Church is the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia and the main cathedral of the Church is the Cathedral of St Elie and St Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut, Lebanon.


  • History 1
  • Liturgy and practices 2
  • Armenian Catholic communities 3
    • Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe 3.1
    • United States and Canada 3.2
    • France 3.3
  • Structure 4
  • Publications 5
  • Gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9
    • Armenian Religious Relations and the Roman Catholic Church 9.1


After the Armenian Apostolic Church formally broke off communion from the Chalcedonian churches in the 5th century, some Armenian bishops and congregations made attempts to restore communion with the Catholic Church. During the Crusades, the church of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia entered into a union with the Catholic Church, an attempt that did not last. The union was later re-established during the Council of Florence in 1439, but did not have any real effects for centuries.

In 1740, Abraham-Pierre I Ardzivian, who had earlier become a Catholic, was elected as the patriarch of Sis. Two years later Pope Benedict XIV formally established the Armenian Catholic Church. In 1749, the Armenian Catholic Church built a convent in Bzoummar, Lebanon. During the Armenian Genocide in 1915–1918 the Church scattered among neighboring countries, mainly Lebanon and Syria.

The Armenian Catholic community was also previously formed by Armenians living in Poland in 1630s after the union by the Armenian bishop of Leopolis - Nicholas (Polish: Mikołaj) Torosowicz, who established bonds with the Roman Catholic Church. The community which had been historically centered in Galicia as well as in the pre-1939 Polish borderlands in the east, was after World War II expelled to present-day Poland and now has three parishes: in Gdańsk, in Gliwice and in Warsaw.

Liturgy and practices

The church belongs to the group of Gregory the Illuminator, founder and patron saint of the Armenian Church. Unlike the Byzantine Church, churches of the Armenian rite are usually devoid of icons and have a curtain concealing the priest and the altar from the people during parts of the liturgy. The use of bishop's mitre and of unleavened bread is reminiscent of the influence Western missionaries once had upon both the miaphysite Orthodox Armenians as well as upon the Armenian Rite Catholics.

Armenian Catholic communities

Apart from Armenia, France and North America (Canada, U.S.A. and Mexico), sizable Armenian Catholic communities exist in Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Turkey.

Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe

Armenian Catholics originated in what is today Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe. Beginning in the late 1920s, persecution caused many Armenian Catholics to emigrate. In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul II merged the communities in Georgia and Russia with those in Armenia, creating a new ordinariate of Armenia and Eastern Europe, with its residence in Gyumri. The city was not chosen by chance. Most of the Catholic Armenians live in the northern parts of the Armenia. This has become a kind of basis for fence-mending with the coreligionists on the other side of the border.

Today Catholic Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakhq live together in Akhaltsikhe and in the nearby villages, as well as in the regions of Akhalkalak and Ninotsminda. The communities of the last two regions, which are mainly rural, are on rather distant territories, but the most important interlink is the historical memory about Catholicism.

A small seminary was established in Gyumri, Armenia, during 1994; there candidates for the Priesthood engage in basic studies before moving to the Pontifical College of the Armenians (established 1885) in Rome where they pursue philosophy and theology.

United States and Canada

Presently, around 1.5 million Armenians live in North America, of which 35,000 belong to the Armenian Catholic Church.

In the 19th century Catholic Armenians from Western Armenia, mainly from the towns and cities of Karin (Erzurum), Constantinople, Mardin etc., came to the United States seeking employment. At the end of the same century, many survivors of the Hamidian Massacres had concentrated in several U.S. cities, chiefly in New York. Catholic Armenian communities were also founded in New Jersey, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, and other cities of California.

Catholic Armenian educational organizations were also founded in many cities. In Philadelphia and Boston Colleges of Armenian sisters were founded, educating hundreds of children. Later, a similar college was founded in Los Angeles. Mechitarists were preoccupied with the problem of preserving Armenian identity. By the effort of Mkhitarists in Venice and Vienna, the Mkhitarian College was founded in Los Angeles.

Many Armenians came to the United States and Canada from the Middle Eastern countries of Lebanon and Syria in the 1970s and in later years. Also many Armenians immigrated from Argentina, because of the economic crisis. At the same time, many Catholic Armenians inside the United States moved to San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami and Indianapolis.

In 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI's decision, the Catholic Exarchate of the USA and Canada was advanced to the status of a diocese. It serviced 35,000 Catholic Armenians in the United States and some 10,000 in Canada. The bishop, or eparch, of the diocese, which has jurisdiction over Canadian and American Catholics who are members of the Armenian Catholic Church, became Manuel Batakian. According to a Monday, May 23, 2011 news release by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI, named Archpriest Mikael Mouradian, superior of the Convent of Notre Dame in Bzommar, Lebanon, as the new bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York for Armenian Catholics. The appointment of Lebanon-born Bishop Mouradian was publicized in Washington, May 21, by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.[1]


Next to North America, France holds the largest number of Armenian Catholics outside of the areas of the Middle East and Oriental Europe. The Eparchy of Sainte-Croix-de-Paris was established in 1960 with Bishop Garabed Armadouni as exarch. Since 1977, the eparchy has been led by Bishop Krikor Gabroyan.

There are some 30,000 Armenian Catholics in the eparchy, the headquarters of which is in Paris. The eparchy has six churches apart from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Paris: Arnouville-lès-Gonesse, Lyon, Marseille, Saint-Chamond, Sèvres and Valence. A community of Mekhitarist Fathers resides in Sevre and a convent of Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception runs a school in Marseille


Headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in Bzoummar, Lebanon
Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Glendale, California

The Armenian Catholic Church is broken into Archdioceses, Eparchies, Apostolic Exarchates, Ordinariates for the Faithful of the Eastern Rite and Patriarchal Exarchates, each of which have functions similar to a diocese.

The Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of the See of Cilicia is the supreme authority of the Armenian Catholic Church. Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni is the current Catholicos-Patriarch.

Following is a list of the divisions with the number of adherents.[2]

Archdioceses 1990 2000 2008
Patriarchate of Cilicia, Beirut, Lebanon (Patriarchal) 15,000 12,000 12,000
Archeparchy of Aleppo, Syria 15,000 17,000 17,500
Archeparchy of Baghdad, Iraq 2,200 2,000 2,000
Archeparchy of Istanbul, Turkey 3,700 3,680 3,650
Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine N/A N/A 0
Eparchy of Ispahan, Iran 2,200 2,200 10,000
Eparchy of Iskanderiya (Alexandria), Egypt 1,500 1,287 6,000
Eparchy of Kamichlié, Syria 4,303 4,000 4,000
Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in the United States of America and Canada 34,000 36,000 36,000
Eparchy of Sainte-Croix-de-Paris, France 30,000 30,000 30,000
Eparchy of Saint Gregory of Narek, Buenos Aires established in 1989 16,000 16,000
Apostolic Exarchates
Apostolic Exarchate for Latin America and Mexico 30,000 12,000 12,000
Ordinariates for the Faithful of the Eastern Rite
Ordinariate for Greece (Athens) 650 600 350
Ordinariate for Romania (Gherla) N/A 1,000 806
Ordinariate for Eastern Europe (Gyumri, Armenia) established in 1991 220,000 490,000
Patriarchal Exarchates
Damascus, Syria 9,000 8,000 6,500
Amman and Jerusalem N/A 280 800
TOTAL 142,853 362,047 700,806


The Armenian Catholic Church produces a number of publications:

  • Avedik, the official organ of the church
  • Avedaper Verelk, a religious, spiritual and cultural publication of St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church
  • Avedaper, a weekly bulletin of the Armenian Catholic dioceses
  • Gantch Hrechdagabedin, official publication of the Our Lady of Bzommar Convent
  • Massis, a general monthly publication
  • Church bulletins

The Armenian Catholic Church has presses that publish many liturgical, spiritual books, publications, pamphlets and translations from general Catholic publications.


See also


  1. ^ "Pope Names New Eparch for Armenian Catholics In US And Canada". USCCB News Release. 21 May 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-25. 
  2. ^ "The Eastern Catholic Churches 2008" (PDF). Annuario Pontificio. 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 

External links

  • Armenian Catholic Church
  • Armenian Catholic Eparchy of USA and Canada
  • Armenian Catholic Community in Australia
  • Armenian Catholic Church in Lebanon
  • Armeniapedia – Armenian Catholic Church
  • Article on the Armenian Catholic Church by Ronald Roberson on the CNEWA web site
  • St. Mark's Armenian Catholic Church, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • St. Gregory of Narek: Was the New Doctor of the Church a Catholic?CWR --

Armenian Religious Relations and the Roman Catholic Church

  • ), Encyclical, 1755On the observance of Oriental Rites (Allatae SuntPope Benedict XIV,
  • Common Declaration of Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin I, 1996
  • Common Declaration of John Paul II and Aram I Keshishian, 1997
  • John Paul II to Karekin I, 1999
  • Joint Declaration signed by John Paul II and Karekin II, 2000
  • Greeting by Pope Benedict XVI to His Holiness Aram I, 2008
  • Dialogue and Joint Declarations with the Roman Catholic Church
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