The Armenian Catholic Church
There were also a number of Armenian Catholic communities in the section of historic Armenia that came under Russian control in 1828. Pius IX established the diocese of Artvin for all Armenian Catholics in the Russian Empire in 1850. But tsarist opposition to eastern Catholicism resulted in the abandonment of the Artvin diocese within 40 years. In 1912 the Armenian Catholics in the Empire were placed under the Latin bishop of distant Tiraspol. The Armenian Catholic Church was entirely suppressed under communism, and it was only with the independence of Armenia in 1991 that communities of Armenian Catholics began to resurface. On July 13, 1991, the Holy See established an Ordinariat for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe based in Gyumri, Armenia.
The only Armenian Catholic monastic order is the Mechitarist Fathers, founded in Constantinople by the monk Mechitar in 1701. The growing community established itself on the island of San Lazzaro, near Venice, in 1717. In 1773 a group of the monks set up a separate community in Trieste which transferred to Vienna in 1811. These two communities long served the entire Armenian nation through their scholarship and publishing activity both in Europe and the Middle East. In 2000 the two groups re-united into a single congregation based in Venice. It now has 27 members.
The Patriarchal Congregation of Bzommar, Lebanon, was founded in 1750, originally as a community of bishops and priests that included the Patriarch and his staff. Many of its members now serve as missionaries in various parts of the world.
There is also one female religious order, the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Founded in Constantinople in 1847, the community now has 25 foundations and 85 members. Its headquarters are in Rome.
There are now four major seminaries at the service of the Armenian Catholic Church: The Armenian Pontifical College founded in Rome in 1883; a seminary directed by the Mechitarist monks in Bikfaya, Lebanon; one at the Bzommar Patriarchal Congregation in Lebanon; and one for married candidates for the priesthood in Tbilissi, Georgia.
Today the largest concentrations of Armenian Catholics are in Beirut, Lebanon, and Aleppo, Syria. The church has seven dioceses in the Middle East: two in Syria and one each in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Turkey.
The Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg was established in 2005 for Armenian Catholics in the United States and Canada. Its 36,000 faithful and nine parishes are under the spiritual care of Bishop Mikael Mouradian (167 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11211). Armenian Catholics in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand are under the supervision of the local Latin bishops. In Australia contact Father Parsegh Sousanian, Our Lady of the Assumption Armenian Catholic Church, P.O. Box 315, Lidcombe NSW 1825.
Location: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, diaspora
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2012
Tags: Christianity Armenian Catholic Church
Head: Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni (born 1940, elected 1999)
Title: Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians
Residence: Beirut, Lebanon