Karekin I (Cilicia)

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This article is about Karekin I Hovsepian of the Holy See of Cilicia. For Karekin I Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin (1995-1999) who had also served as Karekin II, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia (1983-1994), see Karekin I. For Karekin I Patriarch of Constantinople, see Karekin I Khachadourian of Constantinople.

Karekin I (Armenian: Գարեգին Ա. Յովսեփեան) (17 December 1867 in Nagorno-Karabakh – 21 June 1952 in Antelias, Lebanon) was Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church from 1943 to 1952.

Born Garegin Hovsepian and originally from Artsakh, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1909. In 1917 he was ordained bishop, though this did not keep him from participating in the Battle of Sardarapat (1918) and Battle of Kars (1921).

He served as Primate of the Diocese of Crimea and Nor Nakhichevan (in Russia), and in 1933 when dissension arose causing a split in the Armenian Church in America, Bishop Garegin was sent by Catholicos Khoren I as special nuncio to mediate this problem. He arrived in 1936, and though unsuccessful won admiration for his leadership from all sides. He was later elected Primate of the Armenian Diocese of America.

When the See of Great House of Cilicia became vacant he was elected to it in 1943, though due to difficulties in traveling from America to Lebanon brought on by World War II he was unable to physically take up the position until 1945.

He made the Cilician See a center for religious and cultural activities and made it a center for diasporan Armenians. In 1951, he published Hishadagarank Tserakrats (in Armenian Յիշատակարանք Ձեռագրաց), a huge 1255 page book about religious and historical references spanning from 5th century A.D to 1250 A.D. The information was gathered from ancient Armenian Miniatures and ancient manuscripts that were located in the museums of the Armenian Patriarch in Jerusalem. He was assisted in this project by his Staff Bearer (kavazanageer) seminary student Torkom Postajian who traveled to Jerusalem with him and hand copied and compiled the information from the original documents.


Shortly after the death of Karekin I in 1952, Neshan Sarkissian, an Armenian cleric was ordained a priest taking the name Karekin in remembrance of the late Catholicos. Karekin Sarkissian later became Catholicos Karekin II of Cilicia and then Catholicos Karekin I of All Armenians.


Avakian, Arra S. (1998). Armenia: A Journey Through History. The Electric Press, Fresno.

Preceded by
Bedros IV of Cilicia
Catholicoi of the Holy See of Cilicia
Succeeded by
Zareh I