Mkrtich Khrimian

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His Holiness
Mkrtich I Khrimian
Surpreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
Mkrtich Khrimyan.jpg
Mkrtich I Khrimian
Church Armenian Apostolic Church
See Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Installed 1892
Term ended 1907
Predecessor Mkrtich I Khrimian
Successor Matteos of Constantinople
Personal details
Birth name Mkrtich Khrimian
Born (1820-04-04)April 4, 1820
Van, Vilayet of Van, Ottoman Empire
Died October 27, 1907(1907-10-27) (aged 87)
Etchmiadzin, Armenia
Buried Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin
"Mkrtich Khrimian near Echmiadzin" Ivan Aivazovsky 1885

Mkrtich Khrimian (Armenian: Մկրտիչ Խրիմեան; April 4, 1820 – October 27, 1907), also known as Khrimian Hayrik (Armenian: Խրիմեան Հայրիկ) and Mkrtich I Vanetsi (Mkrtich I of Van), was an Armenian religious and political leader. He served as the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople (1869–1873), as Prelate of Van (1880–1885) and elected as Catholicos of All Armenians (1892–1907).

He devoted his life to the betterment of the Armenian people, especially the peasantry in Western Armenia. He was also a literary scholar, a writer and an editor.


Khrimian was born in Van on April 4, 1820. After receiving his primary education, he studied Grabar or classical Armenian as well as Armenology.

Service in Van, 1854–1869[edit]

In 1854, he was ordained a priest and entered priesthood in the monastery of Aght'amar. In 1857 Khrimian became the head of Taron, the dean of Saint Karapet seminary. Being a progressivist, he was resented by his conservative brethren. So he left the monastery and gave himself to independent service.

Elsewhere, his sermons won him public admiration and affection among Armenians. Khrimian was known to be an excellent orator, his speeches full of color and emotion. Khrimian urged Armenian peasants to defend themselves against hostile Kurds. He was also successful in repealing illegal taxes imposed against Christian Armenians by the Ottoman government.

He established a printing press at Varagavank in Van, and thereafter launched in 1858 Artsiv Vaspurakan (meaning Eagle of Vaspourakan), which is considered the first Armenian periodical publication in Armenia. Garegin Srvandztyants and Arsen Tokhmakhian also worked on this periodical together with other pupils of a school founded by Khrimian.

Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, 1869–1873[edit]

In 1869, Khrimyan was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. Five years later he resigned this position and began his struggle against darkness and injustice. Carrying out an ambitious plan to enlighten his people, Khrimyan was thwarted in his efforts by the antagonism of fellow clergy who presented numerous obstacles to his work.

In 1876, on occasion of fire and robbery of Van, Khrimyan wrote “Vangoyzh”, an inspirational appeal for efficient measures instead of complaining of losses and difficulties., When the Russo-Turkish war broke out, he wrote “Haygoyzh”. These two works were enough to proclaim him “Khorenatsi of the 19th century.”* He also wrote “Heavenly Land”, “A Grandfather and a Grandson” and others. Most of Khrimyan’s work greatly influenced the character and social thought of the people of his time.

In 1876, Khrimyan published “His Time and Counsel” in which he expressed his thoughts and views of the constitution of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1878, Khrimyan headed the delegation to represent the will of Armenian people at the Berlin Conference. Upon his return he stated in an eloquent speech entitled, “The Paper Ladle,” that the hopes of the Armenian people for self-determination were ignored by the European community of nations.

Prelate of Van, 1880–1885[edit]

In 1878, Khrimyan sent his aid to the starving population of Van and founded an orphanage. In 1878, He began to serve as the Prelate of Van whose seat was at Varagavank.

In 1885 Khrimyan Hayrik was recalled to Constantinople. Turkish authorities did not appreciate his activities.

Later he was sent to Jerusalem, which, in fact, was an exile.

Catholicos of All Armenians, Echmiadzin (1892–1907)[edit]

Khrimian's tombstone beside the entrance to Etchmiadzin Cathedral

In the eyes of native people the personality of Khrimyan rose instantly; therefore in 1892 Khrimyan Hayrik was unanimously elected Catholicos of All Armenians. He moved to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin as head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Because of his fatherly love and dedication to the common people, Mkrtich Khrimian was affectionately called Khrimian "Hayrik", which means "father" in the Armenian language.

In 1903 the Czarist government of Imperial Russia ordered the confiscation of all Armenian ecclesiastical and educational properties. Khrimian, then acting Catholicos, waged a heroic struggle against the decision, which came to success in 1905 when the Czar published a decree reopening Armenian schools and returning church properties.

In 1907 Catholicos Khrimyan died leaving a grieving nation. Khrimyan’s life was an outstanding and extraordinary example of a leader’s dynamic accomplishment in drawing his people closer and closer to their native land and sense of nationhood, both physically and spiritually.

External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by

Ignatios I of Constantinople
Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by

Nerses II of Constantinople
Preceded by
Magar I
Catholicos of the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin and All Armenians
Succeeded by
Matthew II