Armenian Catholic Church

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Armenian Catholic Church
Igreja armênica católica.svg
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 Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni
Headquarters Bzoummar, Lebanon
Territory Armenia,
Possessions Russia, Iraq, Georgia, 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
Bishops meeting in Jerusalem, circa 1880 (note the Roman pallium worn by the archbishop in the centre).
Headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in Bzoummar, Lebanon

The Armenian Catholic Church (Armenian: Հայ Կաթողիկէ Եկեղեցի, Hay Kat’oġikē Ekeġec’i) is a sui juris Eastern Catholic Church in union with the other Eastern Rite, Oriental Rite and Latin Rite Catholics who accept the Bishop of Rome as spiritual leader of the Church. It is regulated by Eastern canon law. Since 1749, the Armenian Catholic Church has been headquartered at the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate complex in Bzoummar, Lebanon.


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.

Armenian Catholic communities[edit]

Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe[edit]

Armenian Catholics live in these regions. Beginning in the late 1920s, persecution caused many Armenian Catholics to flee their homeland. 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[edit]

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Glendale, California

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 kids. 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


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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. The church belongs to the group of Eastern Rite Catholic churches and uses the Armenian Rite and the Armenian language in its liturgy.

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


Structure of the Armenian Catholic Church
  • Archdioceses:
  • Eparchies
    • Alexandria, Egypt
    • Isfahan, Iran
    • Al Qamishli (Kamichlié), Syria
    • New York, US (Our Lady of Nareg)
    • Paris, France (Sainte-Croix-de-Paris)
    • Buenos Aires, Argentina (San Gregorio de Narek en Buenos Aires)
  • Apostolic Exarchates
    • Latin America
    • Mexico
  • Ordinariates for the Faithful of the Eastern Rite
  • Patriarchal Exarchates
    • Damascus, Syria
    • Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine
    • Amman, Jordan
Number of Catholic Armenians

The following table is the list of the dioceses of the Armenian Catholic Church with the number of adherents.[2]

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


External links[edit]

Armenian Religious Relations and the Roman Catholic Church[edit]