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Inscrit le: 07 Nov 2009
Messages: 24 734
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Moyenne de points: 2,85
|Posté le: Dim 15 Mai 2016 - 14:52
Sujet du message: Ermeni Cemaati'nin son rahibesi
|Ermeni Cemaati'nin son rahibesi
3 yıl önce özel bir statüyle rahibe olan Kuyr Kayane Dulkadiryan , Ermeni cemaatinin tek rahibesi. Kendi evinde ailesiyle birlikte yaşayan Kayane, cemaatindeki rahibe yokluğunu manastırlarının bulunmamasına bağlıyor.
Ermeni Cemaati'nin son rahibesi
Yedikule'deki Surp Pırgiç Hastanesi'nin bahçesindeki aynı adlı kilisede çalışan, her gün buraya gelen yaşlılara manevi konularda yardım eden Kuyr Kayane, Ermeni cemaatinin son rahibesi. Bir manastırda ya da eğitim kurumunda değil, Bakırköy'deki evinde ailesiyle birlikte yaşıyor.
Din görevlilerinin genellikle aklımızda kalmış ciddi, hatta asık suratlı imajına karşın yüzünde hiç eksik olmayan gülümsemesiyle dikkat çekiyor. Biraz ciddi görünmenizi istemiyorlar mı diye sorunca, 'biz ailece böyleyiz, memnuniyetsizliğim de yok ki durumumdan, durup dururken neden somurtayım' cevabını veriyor.
Ermeni cemaati 2006 yılında o zamanki tek rahibesi Hripsime Sasunyan'ı kaybedince Patrik Mesrop Mutafyan özel bir uygulamayla Kuyr Kayane'yi takdis edip ona Kalfayan Rahibesi statüsü tanımış. Onun durumunun özel olmasının nedeni, herhangi bir manastıra bağlı olmadan, ailesinin yanında yetişmesinden kaynaklanıyor.
Şöyle ki; rahibeler belli bir kurumun, manastırın çatısı altında yetişip o kurumla birlikte anılırmış. Manastır bulunmadığı için evinde yetişen Kayane'nin takdis zamanı geldiğinde o sıralarda vefat eden Sasunyan'ın anısına, onun yetiştiği, artık açık olmayan Kalfayan Yetimhanesi'ne bağlanması uygun görülmüş.
RAHİBELİK HEYECANI EVLİLİK HEYECANI GİBİ
Neden rahibe olmak istediniz?
Çocukluğumdan beri dua ederdim, içten gelen bir şey bu, fakir biri görünce 'Tanrı'm sen de gördün onun yoksulluğunu değil mi' diyerek Tanrı'yla konuşurdum. Hep rahibe olmak istedim. 2006 yılında rahibe olarak takdis edildim ama ondan önce de zaten rahibe gibi yaşardım.
Aileniz dindar mıydı, nasıl karşıladı kararınızı?
İmanlı bir ailede büyüdüm, beş kardeşin en küçüğüydüm, hepsi evlendi, çocukları var şimdi. Benim rahibe olmamı normal karşıladılar, küçüklüğümden beri nasıl büyüdüğümü, iç dünyamı bildikleri için asıl rahibe olmasam, mesela 'ben evleniyorum' deseydim şaşırırlardı herhalde.
Heyecanlanmış mıydınız rahibelik için takdis edilirken?
Kilisede törenle takdis ediliyorsunuz şahitlerin ve Tanrı'nın huzurunda. Bu evlilik gibi aynen, muhakkak heyecanlanıyorsunuz yani. İtaat, bekaret ve ömür boyu malda-mülkte gözünüz olmaması yönünde fakirlik yemini ediyorsunuz.
Diğer kardeşlerinize özenmediniz mi hiç? Evlenip çocuk yapmaya mesela...
Yok, onların çocukları, buraya gelen çocuklar benim de çocuklarım zaten. Onlar özenirler zaman zaman bana hatta. Huzurlu bir hayat, özgüven duygusu herkesin özenebileceği bir şey. İnsanlarda eksik olan özellikler bunlar çünkü.
Ermeni cemaatinde neden başka rahibe yok? Sizden önceki rahibe Sasunyan'a ailesi izin vermemiş mesela, aileler soğuk mu bakıyorlar bu işe?
Birçok konuda olduğu gibi bu konuda da gençlerin kafası karışık biraz, annelik isteği var bir de, bu kararı vermek kolay değil. Ama rahibe yetişmemesinin asıl nedeni gençler ya da aileleri değil. Manastırımız yok. Rahibelerin ve gençlerin bir arada bulunabileceği, bir seçenek olarak rahibeliği görebilecekleri böyle bir ortam yok. Dini büyüklerimiz bu tür konularda hükümet düzeyinde yetkililerle görüşmeleri sürdüruyorlar. Umutla bekliyoruz biz de.
ÜNİVERSİTEYE GİTMEYİ DÜŞÜNÜYORUM
Siz ne eğitimi aldınız?
Çemberlitaş Kız Lisesi'nde okudum. Üniversitede Armenoloji bölümlerinin açılacağı konuşuluyordu onu bekliyorum merakla, açılınca o bölümde okuyacağım ama o da belirsiz. Harran Üniversitesi'nde açılacak deniliyordu bir ara, sonra Galatasaray Üniversitesi'nde açılacağı konuşuldu, o hevesle Fransızca öğrendim orada okumak için. Ama açılmadı, ümidim devam ediyor.
Gününüz burada nasıl geçiyor, ne iş yapıyorsunuz?
Sabah 09:30'da başlıyorum 14:30'a kadar çalışıyorum. Buraya gelen yaşlıların kilisede dini vazifelerini yerine getirmelerine yardımcı oluyorum. Öğleden sonra da yoksulların, yaşlıların evlerine gidiyorum yardım etmek için.
Ne yardımı yapıyorsunuz?
Burada maddi yardım yapmıyoruz doğrudan ama ihtiyaç duyanları bu tür yardım yapan yerlere bildiriyoruz. Gittiğim evlerde daha çok manevi yardım yapıyorum, yaşlılar, yoksul kalanlar terk edildiklerini düşünüyorlar ve en çok konuşacak birine ihtiyaç duyuyorlar. Onlarla konuşup yalnız olmadıklarını, Tanrı'nın onları sevdiğini anlatıyorum, kızları, kardeşleri oluyorum.
TELEVİZYON DİZİLERİ YEMİNİMİZE UYGUN DEĞİL
Eğlenmek için bir şeyler yapar mısınız, televizyonda ne izlersiniz örneğin?
Takdis olurken yaptığımız rahibelik andına sadık kalırız. Rahibelik bir meslek değil çünkü; bir yaşam tarzı. Çalışma saatlerinde başka bir yaşam, serbest zamanlarda başka bir yaşam olmaz. Televizyondaki hiçbir diziyi izlemiyorum. Doğrusu buna vaktim de olmuyor pek, bir de dizilerin çoğunda bekaret yeminine aykırı durumlar yaşanıyor. Ama televizyon izlemem anlamına gelmiyor bu, belgeselleri ve haberleri izlerim. Haberler dua kaynağı oluyor aynı zamanda.
Dualarınızı haberlerden mi seçiyorsunuz yani?
Mesela haberlerde okyanusta bir uçağın düştüğü bildiriliyor, o akşamki duamı o uçakla düşen insanlar için ederim. Tahmin edeceğiniz gibi bizim ülkemizde ettiğimiz dualarda şükran duygusu az oluyor.
Neden şükran duygusu az?
Yani iyi bir haber alınca şükran duası edersin, yeni bir icat olduğunda mesela. Her gün güneş doğduğu için Tanrı'ya şükranlık duyarsın. Oluyor tabii şükran duaları ama daha çok olmasını isteriz değil mi?
Kolera salgınından doğan yetimhane Kuyr Kayane'nin özel bir statüyle bağlandığı, artık hizmet vermeyen Kalfayan Yetimhanesi'nin 150 yıl öncesine uzanan bir hikayesi bulunuyor. 1866'da Halıcıoğlu'nda kolera salgını başlayınca bazı yetim çocuklar ortada kalır.
Sırpuhi Kalfayan önce dayısının evinde bu çocukları toplayarak bakar. Burada onlarla geçirdiği günlerde rahibe olmak ister ama annesi izin vermez. Çok geçmeden koleraya yakalanan Kalfayan 'iyileşirsem rahibe olmama izin verir misin' deyince annesi, iyileşmesinden umudunu kestiği kızının isteğini kabul eder. Kalfayan iyileşip rahibe olunca çocuklara yetimhane açmak ister.
Padişah Sultan Abdülaziz'den yardım olarak bir kese altın alır ve o parayla satın aldığı ahşap binayı yetimhaneye çevirir. Halıcıoğlu'ndaki yetimhane 1928'de resmi kimlik kazanarak, ilkokul statüsünde Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı'na bağlanır. 1971'de Halıcıoğlu'ndaki yol çalışması nedeniyle istimlak edilince ilkokul Üsküdar'a taşınır.
|Posté le: Dim 15 Mai 2016 - 14:52
Sujet du message: Publicité
Inscrit le: 07 Nov 2009
Messages: 24 734
Point(s): 70 453
Moyenne de points: 2,85
|Posté le: Ven 23 Déc 2016 - 20:50
Sujet du message: Ermeni Cemaati'nin son rahibesi
|Women Deacons in the Armenian Apostolic Church Revisited
For more on the subject of Armenian women deacons and monastics in the Armenian Apostolic Church, see Shepherds of the Nation and A Nearly Forgotten History: Women Deacons in the Armenian Apostolic Church in the April 21, 2012 and July 6, 2013 issues of The Armenian Weekly.
The legacy of sublime love and humble service to God and the Armenian Nation left by the women monastics of the ArmenianApostolicChurch throughout the centuries is a priceless treasure and a source of awe and inspiration. Even during times of enormous adversity of which there were far too many in the history of this Christian nation, these unassuming and visionary women undauntedly persevered in their ordained work. With the passing of time, however, as well as changing times, these women—nuns, acolytes, sub-deacons, deacons, archdeacons, scribes, illuminators, paper and parchment makers, binders—and their work have been nearly forgotten. Fortunately, their legacy survives, albeit in fragile old books written in an ancient language that some cannot read and in a small but growing number of women today who have also selected to serve their Church and Nation, as is evident in some of the examples that follow.
St. Stepanos nun-deaconesses
The Kalfayan Sisterhood, founded in 1866 in Constantinople, Turkey, by Sister Srpouhi Nshan Kalfayan as the “Kalfayan National Orphanage of Three Years Dedicated to the Holy Virgins,” had a number of sisters throughout its history. The orphanage was celebrated for its excellent education. “All its members were deaconesses and the abbess, protodeaconess.” Sister Kalfayan was born in 1823 and “became a nun at the age of eighteen. . . She opened a trade-school for poor boys and girls in the Khaskeuy section of Constantinople. . .” After her visit to Europe in 1858, she founded the above mentioned orphanage. The honored archdeaconess died on June 4, 1889, and was buried in the yard of the orphanage. Sister Christine Papazian became Mother Superior of the orphanage after the death of Srpouhi Mayrabed (Mother Superior). “She had earlier worked as a nurse in the National Hospital during her early days as a nun. . .” Although the order no longer exists, at present Sister Kayane Dulkadiryan (born 1966), a sub-deacon, continues in the footsteps of these women. “She is active in the church, and she can read the Bible in the church,” wrote Archbishop Aram Atesyan, Deputy General of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey, in a recent email communication I had with him. “The Kalfayan Orphanage,” the Archbishop explained, “still exists with approximately 70 girls between the ages of ten and seventeen, and it is run by a Board of Directors, which is elected by the community.”
Two St. Catherine’s nun-deaconesses pictured with a “wooden bell” (Photo from R. C. Colliver’s book: Persian Women and Their Ways)
The religious order of the Kalfayan Sisterhood and other such orders left an indelible impact on the ArmenianApostolicChurch and the people they served, especially the orphans entrusted to their care. The following poem titled Mayrabednern Ukhdavor (Pilgrim Nuns) by Melkon Asadour from the village of Khas in Turkey (translated by Knarik O. Meneshian), serves as a poignant illustration. Published on May 19, 1933, in Sion, a periodical of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem since 1866, the poem is dedicated to Mother Aghavni and Sister Mariam of the Kalfayan Orphanage who had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1933.
Since childhood, you have promised your lives to the Church,
And to serve our Lord’s Altar.
With an ornate staff in hand,
A dedicated blessed veil on the head,
The silvery rays of a bright comet above,
Early, you two Sisters departed for your journey.
“Let the Lord guide your steps!”
After traveling from road to road, Sisters,
You reached the Promised Land.
There you presented your sacrifice, offerings for a Mass—
Your gifts, your prayers, and your incense
Mixed with the anguished tears of orphans.
With heads bowed and kneeling side by side,
You blessed the tombstones.
As sobs mixed with your invocations and entreaties,
And the yearnings of your bright-eyed orphans—
High above Golgotha,
And in Bethlehem’s Blessed Holy Manger,
The healing of the sufferers’ pain and anguish,
The repentance of the sinner—oh, always,
Mixed with soft vapors—the breath
Of the cow, the sheep, and the lamb.
Since childhood, you have promised your lives to the Church,
And to serve our Lord’s Altar.
With an ornate staff in hand,
You walked the same path as Jesus did,
And handed to you
Were the uneducated flocks of orphans
To nourish with bread and wine….
In turn, the kind traveler, the Samaritan,
Will ponder your reward
“Live long, live long, Sisters!
You have done enough for us orphans, for me!
The nun-deaconesses helping Father Chiftjian during baptism in Lebanon (Photo provided by Father Chiftjian)
The following article, Hay Grchuhiner (Armenian Women Scribes), written by Bishop Nerses Tsovagan and published in the April-May 1954 issue of Sion on the topic of Armenian women scribes reveals the legacy they left for their beloved Church and Nation. The mentioned works copied or illuminated, at times both, are the Bible, Text of the Creed, Book on the Interpretation of Dates, Book on the Interpretation of a Prayer Book, Book on the Interpretation of Solomon’s Proverbs, Book on the Interpretation of Luke, Book on Spiritual Advice; canonicals, memoirs; history, hymn, prayer, and sermon books.
Mother Superior/Archdeanconess Hripsime Tahiriants (Photo from Father K. Khutsyan’s book: Tiflsi Surp Stepanos Kusants Anapati Badmutiune
Armenian Women Scribes
In our history of manuscript production, a chapter must be devoted to women scribes, who have left a legacy of their manuscript copying works. Many women scribes were nuns, some of whom were known as monastics in the 17th century at the Shenher and Shorot monasteries/convents/cloisters (in the Julfa region in Nachichevan), where manuscripts were illuminated. During the revival of manuscript production in the 17th century, women monastics, like others, were inspired by the revival. During the 17th century alone, we know of more women scribes than all others prior to that century. The most prolific woman scribe known to us is Brabion Nodar (Note Taker) of whose works nine are known. It is also worth mentioning several women who prepared the paper or parchment for their manuscripts.
Shakar Havadavor (Believer) was the daughter of Father Vartishkhan. The two commissioned, in Jerusalem, the renowned scribe Stepanos Yergayn to copy a 1321 Bible, and they gifted it to the Hreshtagabed Monastery. Shakar also had engaged in preparing paper for manuscripts.
Khabib Khatun was the wife of the scribe Father Garabed. She had copied a Bible in 1451 in Van. She had also worked as a paper maker.
Mariam Grich yev Ngarich (Scribe and Illuminator) copied and illuminated a book of sermons by Krikor Datevatsi, in 1456.
Gohar was the daughter of manuscript scribe and illuminator Yerzngatsi Hovhannes’s brother and Malkhatun. She helped her uncle during the years 1484-1486 in Gesaria by preparing the parchments and paper for a Bible and a missal.
Altun was the daughter of scribe Hovhannes Yerets, who in 1621 wrote about his daughter: “And so my daughter Altun became my helper and prepared the paper and lit my light, and for the whole night she worked alongside of me and prepared my food…”
Goharine Kuys yev Grich (Nun and Scribe) was a scribe in 1630 at the Yerek Khorank Monastery in the village of Avandonts. She copied a canonical book.
Marinos Grigoruhi Kuys copied Megnutiun Domari by Bishop Hagop Ghrimetsi, in 1637, and Harants Vark in 1650, in the village of Arkosh.
Mariam Grich was the daughter of Bishop Margos’s brother. In 1647, in the village of Khanatsakh in Gharabagh, she copied a hymnbook by Nerses Shnorhali.
Mariam Kuys was the daughter of Markar and Antaram, and the niece of Kavich (Atoner) Father Giragos. In 1651, at the Shenher Convent she copied Krikor Datevatsi’s Vosgeporik.
Varvare Kuys. Three of her works are available: Hishadagaran, written in 1647; Zhamagirk, copied in 1655, and Karozagirk of Krikor Datevatsi, copied in 1684 at the Pokr Siunik Convent.
Hripsime Kuys Mayrabed (Mother Superior) copied, in 1651, a prayer book, an hour book, and a calendar of holidays for “Yeghisabet,” and in 1653 Megnutiun Zhamagirki at the Halidzor Cloister.
Varteni Abashkharogh (Penitent) copied one Sandukht Book in 1657.
Shushan Norashingetsi Kuys was the daughter of Bashkhi and Khurmi, and sister of Aristakes Vartabed (celibate priest). In the village of Shorot, she copied the Badmagirk of Yeghishe, of Khorenatsi, etc., in 1664 when she was 43 years old. In 1666, at the request of her brother Father Aristakes, she copied Megnutiun Aragats Soghomoni.
Margarid Kuys copied Nerses Shnorhali’s Gir Havado in 1669 and a Bible in 1676, at Surp Asdvatsatsin Convent in the village of Shorot, located in the district of Yernjag.
Erine Kuyr (Sister) copied Adeni Zhamagirk at the Shenher Convent in 1673.
Maryam Grich was a student of Father Nahabed, who later became Catholicos (1691-1705). She copied the following works between 1673 and 1678: Hayli Varuts, a translation of Stepanos Lehatsi; Harants Vark and Vosgeporik at St. Hagop in Jerusalem as a gift to her godfather, Vartabed Nahabed.
Khanum Dbir (Acolyte) copied a Bible at St. Gevork Church in the village of Agn, in 1682, at the request of Mrs. Nur Melik.
Goharine Kuys copied Krikor Naregati’s Prayer Book at Shorot Cloister in 1687-1688. She was the daughter of Bedros and Hripsime.
Marinos Kuys bound the manuscript copied by Goharine at Shorot Cloister in 1687-1688.
Soghovme copied a book titled Khrad Hokevork in 1730.
Brabion Nodar yev Gragruhi (Note Taker and Secretary) was a student of Mateos Gragir. She copied the following books in Constantinople: Badmutiun Zhoghovats Yeprosi yev Kaghgeton, 1772, at Palat’s (section in Constantinope) Surp Hreshdagabed Church as a gift to Bishop Hovhannes Mamigonetsi; Andar Noraguyn Mdatsmants, 1773; Badmutiun Zhoghovats, 1774, at Palat’s Surp Hreshdagabed Church; Megnutiun Hngamadeni, 1779, for Vartan Vartabed; Megnutiun Yergots Yergooyn, 1780, for Vartan Vartabed; Megnutiun Madteosi of Nerses Shnorhali and Hovhannes Yerzngatsi, 1781; Khosk Hin Yeranutiun of Grigor Niusatsi, 1783, (at times, this manuscript was at Armash Monastery, [built in 1611, near Izmit, Turkey]); Havakatsu Muh, which contained the work of Hovhannes Kahana (priest) titled Haghags Anguinavor Tvots, 1786. The manuscript is at the Yerevan Madenadaran (Repository) #2595; Karozgirk of Patriarch Hagop Nalian, 1788, for Baghdasar Vartabed of Jerusalem.
Heghine Abashkharogh copied Iknadeos Vartabed’s Megnutiun Ghugasu in the 17th century. Exact date and place unknown.
Husdiane Kuys copied Anastas Kahana’s Aghotagirk and Yeprem the Assyrian‘s Zhamagirk and Aghotk in the 17th century. Exact date and place unknown.
Mariam Grich is assumed to have copied a Karozagirk by Krikor Datevatsi in the 17th century. Since there were three other scribes named Mariam during this period, it is uncertain which Mariam is actually the one.
The eleven-stanza poem Srpuhi Mariam (Saint Mary), (translated by Diana Der Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian), is the only surviving work by the 8th century hermit Sahakdoukht Siunetsi (of Siunik), who was of noble birth. Foreign invaders destroyed her works, just as they destroyed the countless works of numerous other Armenians throughout the centuries. She spent her life in seclusion in a cave in Garni, located in the center of Armenia, near churches, monasteries, and a first-century pagan temple. Sahakdoukht was a scholar, poet, and hymnographer. She composed liturgical chants, wrote devotional poems, and, while seated behind a curtain, taught sacred music to musicians and students. The following are the first two stanza’s of the poem:
Saint Mary, Incorruptible altar,
Giver of life, mother of life-giving words,
Blessed are you among women,
Joyful virgin mother of God.
And spiritual orchard, bright flower,
You conceived from God, as from rains
Flowing through the soul, the word,
And with the shield of your body
Made it apparent to men…
In a section from Kristonya Hayastan Hanragitaran (The Encyclopedia of Christian Armenia) titled Halidzori Kusanats Anapat (The Convent of Halidzor), the convent, located in Armenia’s Siunik Region, is described as follows:
Halidzor Convent is located in the Halidzor Fortress, on the slopes of a forested mountain, on the right bank of the Voghj River near the village of Bekh in the Kapan region of Siunik. It was established during the first half of the 17th century. In 1653, the Mother Superior of the convent was Hripsime, who is mentioned as a manuscript copier. In 1668, the convent had 70 members. In 1711, the abbot of Datev Monastery, Bishop Arakel, was viciously murdered at the convent. In the 18th century, Davit Bek (a prominent military figure of noble lineage, died in 1728) converted the convent into a fortress due to its strategic position, and even then the convent operated as one. In 1727, when the Turkish army surrounded Halidzor, the nuns participated in the fortress’ defense. Walls on a square foundation surround the complex. The only tower is located at the southwestern corner. The church is built of basalt stone…and from the rooftop canons were used to fight the enemy. The strategic position of the convent helped Davit Bek and his small group of fighters successfully defend against the numerous attacks of the thousands in the Turkish army.
Another example of the legacy left by the women monastics of the Armenian Apostolic Church is detailed in the book Tiflisi Surp Stepanos Kusanats Anapati Badmutiune (The History of Tiflis’s St. Stepanos Convent), which is in Holy Etchmiadzin’s library. It was published at the request of Archdeacon Hripsime Tahiriants, who, in October 1911, was appointed Mother Superior of St. Stepanos Convent. The generous and diligent nun-deaconess, upon realizing that a history of the convent had not been written, requested that Reverend Father Khoren Khutsyan write it. She provided him with the archives and funds for the book’s publication. The book contains several photos.
The destruction of a tombstone (Photo from Chookaszian’s book: Archag Fetvadjian)
The following are highlights from the 100-page book:
Hermetic life existed in Armenia even before Christianity. The beginnings of Armenian Christianity are connected with the names of the virgins Hripsime and Gayane. Convents came into existence in Armenia along with Christianity. St. Nerses the Great established walled convents. Women’s monastic life was not widespread, even now.
St. Stepanos Convent, which had numerous nuns, was established in 1725 in Tiflis, Georgia. Girls from prominent and noble or princely families and girls from poor families joined the convent. Because of the convent’s high moral reputation, families also sent delinquent girls to the convent to be disciplined. St. Stepanos’s Mariamyan-Hovnanyants Girls’ School was opened in 1877 with funds from Stepan Hovnanyants. The school was built next to the convent and placed under the care of the nuns.
Initially, nuns had no clerical status but were all equal. Eventually, the seniority system developed and by 1780 St. Stepanos Convent had a Mother Superior. Many of the girls who entered the convent were illiterate and spoke only Georgian, and therefore learned the prayers by memorization. The prelate often visited the convent and encouraged the women to strive for even more education, especially in the study of Grabar (Classical Armenian). When a postulant made her final decision to serve the church, the Catholicos approved her acceptance into the order. Sister Takuhi, the first Mother Superior of St. Stepanos served in that position from 1790 to 1799. She came from a wealthy family and bequeathed her wealth to Jerusalem and Etchmiadzin. In 1796, the Catholicos sent a few of the nuns to Astrakhan, Russia.
Sister Knarik helping during baptism (photo provided by Father Chiftjian)
The names and dates of the women who served as Mother Superior at the convent after Takuhi were: Katarine Amaduni; Husdiane Asdvatsaduriants (1806-1839), who came from a wealthy family; Mariam; Gayane Ghorghanyan, a humble and affable person who entered the convent at age 14, began learning Armenian and church rituals, became a nun-deaconess, built a church to replace the convent chapel, wove many gold and silver threaded pieces for the Etchmiadzin and Jerusalem cathedrals, became Mother Superior in 1840 and served in that capacity for 35 years; Hripsime Begtabekyants was a tbir (acolyte) and a vocalist with music training; Yepemia Behboutyants; Katarine Arghutyan (of a princely family) entered the convent at age 7, ordained nun in 1836, became Mother Superior in 1877, and served in that capacity until 1898 during which time she made many renovations to the church and convent at her expense; Pepronia Khubyants entered the convent in 1826 at the age of 7; Heprosine Abamelikyan (of a princely family) entered the convent at age 13. Hripsime Tahiriants, the daughter of a wealthy and influential family who wanted her to join the religious order, entered the convent at a very young age. She became a nun-deaconess, initiated the writing of the bylaws of the convent for approval by the Catholics, and became the last Mother Superior at St. Stepanos.
In an article about nuns on the official Web Site of The Armenian Church – Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the following was written about Archdeacon Hripsime Tahiriants, “With Sovietization, monastic life was disrupted, the nuns scattered, and the facility was confiscated. In a destitute state, Sister Hripsime (who once donated great sums of money to wherever she saw the need) was given refuge in Holy Etchmiadzin where she eventually died. Her burial place can be visited at the monastery of St. Gayane.”
Currently in Armenia, some of the nuns of the Surp Hripsimyants Order of The Armenian Apostolic Church are preparing to take minor orders.
In L. B. Chookaszian’s recently published book, the author has included photos of St. Stepanos Armenian Convent/Monastery in Tiflis, Georgia, before its takeover by the Georgian government and transformation into a Georgian church (between the late 20th century and first decade of the 21st century). Also included in the book are photos documenting the Georgian government’s destruction of the monastery’s facade, altar and marble cross, and tombstones of the Armenian women monastics.
As mentioned in Part 1 of this article (The Armenian Weekly, July 6, 2013), Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, Primate of the Western Diocese, ordained Seta Simonian Atamian acolyte in Cupertino, California, in 1984, and in 2002 Archbishop Gisak Mouradian, Primate of Argentina, ordained Maria Ozkul to the diaconate. I would like to add that in 1986 Donna Barsamian Sirounian, acolyte, served on the altar with Deaconess Hripsime Sasunian of the Kalfayan Sisterhood at St. Thomas Armenian Church in Tenafly, New Jersey, during her visit to the U.S.
In a recent email communication I had with the Very Reverend Father Krikor Chiftjian, Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Azerbaijan (Adrbadagan), Iran, he graciously provided the following information on St. Catherine’s Convent in New Julfa titled Surp Gadarinyan Menadune (St. Catherine’s Convent). He also provided recent photos (taken by his staff at his request) of the complex, an old photo of the nuns (from a 2012 book titled The Immortals by Alice Navasartian), a photo of the nunnery, which is now a school, and a photo of a wool carpet made by the nuns. On the top right-hand corner of the carpet appears the date 1802. “The carpet,” Father Chiftjian wrote, “is in the Prelacy of Isfahan, in the Prelate’s room, as a historical piece of art.” In addition, he also provided information on the Halidzor Convent and the nun-deaconesses in Lebanon.
Saint Catherine’s Convent
The Convent is located in the Charsu neighborhood on the south side of St. Hovhan Church. It was built in 1623. The church, a small and simple building with 8 windows, is situated in the center of the courtyard of the convent. On the upper part of the altar are paintings of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Virgin Mary…In the parishioner’s section hang the paintings of St. Catherine and St. Mesrop Mashdots. At the baptismal font there is a small, double door with paintings of Jesus. There are writings on the walls of the church. An example is, “In Memory of Virgin Catherine.”
The convent has had up to 32 members. It had very small cells on the eastern, southern, and northern sides of the church. At the beginnings of the 20th century, the cells on the eastern and southern sides were demolished and in their place in 1907 Bagrat Vartabed Vartazarian built a two-story building to be used as an orphanage, workshop, and carpet factory. On the western side of the building, there is a stained-glass window with the inscription, “St. Catherine’s Orphanage and Workshop, 1907.”
Of the nuns’ cells, only a few are left, one of which has paintings on the walls. At the eastern entrance of the church, hangs the church’s wooden “bell” which in the past was used in place of a bell. Recently, during the renovation of the church, a colorful painting was discovered on the external wall of the northern door.
In 1964, the building that housed the carpet factory, which consisted of a few rooms and located at the eastern side of the convent, was demolished. The plan was to build an orphanage but instead a nursing home was built, which later was turned into apartments.
In 1858, the first girls’ school was established at the convent. In 1900, a separate building for the school was built and called Gadarinyan (Catherine’s) School. The school still exists, but today it is a boys’ school. At the present, on St. Catherine’s name day mass is performed at the convent’s church.
As the number of monastic women at the convent progressively decreased, the doors of St. Catherine’s were finally closed in 1954.
In C. Colliver Rice’s book (1923) titled Persian Women and Their Ways, the author includes a photograph of the wooden “bell” pictured with two of the nuns at St. Catherine’s Convent (page 185). The caption below the photo reads, “Beating the board as a summons to worship is a relic of ancient times when there were no bells. The sounds are soft and musical and very much like bells.” On page 279, the author describes the work of one of the Armenian deaconesses in these words: “There are various agencies at work in the hope of helping women to make good, among them the Mothers’ Union has branches in different towns, and has an Armenian deaconess working among the carpet-weavers of Kirman. She is a trained nurse and has several weekly clinics for Moslem women of various classes, which are largely attended and increasingly appreciated. There is a large branch of the Mothers’ Union among the Armenian women of Julfa. They have a great idea of sharing the help they get with others.”
In his email, Father Chiftjian (born 1969, Beirut, Lebanon), wrote that before his election as prelate in 2012, he served from 2009 to 2011 as the “spiritual advisor and dean of the Gayanayants Sisterhood in Jbeil, Lebanon, and the spiritual director of the Bird’s Nest Orphanage.” In 1983, the Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, under Catholicos Karekin II, founded the Sisterhood. Among the Sisters’ various duties are the care and nurturing of the children at the orphanage and assisting the priest during the baptism of orphans. To date, the Gayanyants Sisterhood has three nun-deacons. They are Knarik Gaypakian, Shnorhig Boyadjian, and Gayane Badakian.
Among Father Chiftjian’s numerous accomplishments since his ordination as celibate priest in 1990 was the position of staff bearer to Catholicos Karekin II and, after the latter became Catholicos Karekin I of All Armenians in 1994, the new Catholicos’s secretary. Father Chiftjian has taught at the Kevorkian Academy in Etchmiadzin, authored 20 books, and edited more than 20 publications.
Although the following women were not monastics, they served the Armenian Church and Nation by having churches built. The 2007 calendar of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Built by Women, highlights their work.
Princess Mariam, daughter of King Ashot I Bagratuni and wife of Prince Vasak Gabur of Siunik, built Sevanavank in 874 AD.
Queen Mlke and King Gagik Artsruni of Armenia’s Vaspurakan Region built Surp Khach Church of Aghtamar Island in 915-921.
Princess Sopia (Ajarian spelling), sister of King Gagik Artsruni and wife of Prince of princes Smpad of Siunik, built Gndevank in 931-936, which later became a monastery.
Queen Khosrovanush, wife of King Ashot the Merciful, authorized the construction of Haghpat Monastery in 976-991.
Queen Khushush (Ajarian spelling), daughter of King Gagik Bagratuni and wife of King Senekerim of Vaspurakan, sponsored the construction of Surp Sopia Church of Varag Monastery in 981.
Queen Catherinade, daughter of King Vasak I of Siunik and wife of King Gagik I Bagratuni, continued the construction of the Ani Cathedral after the death of her husband, in 998-1001.
Note: The Convent of Ani, at Ani, is believed to have had a community of nuns. The convent is also known as the Hripsimian Kusanant Vank, Kusanats Vank, and Surp Hripsime. It was built sometime between the early 11th and early 13th centuries. Photos of the convent are included in the book Armenia:1700 Years of Christian Architecture.
Princess Shahandukht, daughter of King Sevada the Glorious and wife of Prince Smbat of Siunik, built Vorotnavank in 1000.
Princess Mariam, daughter of King Gyurige II, built one of the three churches named Mariamashen in the monastic complex of Kobayravank in 1171.
Arzukhatun, a noblewoman of the Vakhtangian princely dynasty, a painter, embroiderer, and weaver, revitalized Dadivank in 1214 (date in Ulubabyan), and built a church that surrounded the graves of her husband and two sons.
Mamakhatun and her husband, Prince Vache Vachutian, constructed Saghmosavank in 1215. In 1232, Mamakhatun was the principal supporter of the construction of Tegheri Monastery.
Princess Gontsa, under her patronage, initiated the construction of Spitakavor Surp Asdvadzadzin Church in 1301.
Ajarian, Hratchya. Hayots Antsnanunneri Bararan (Dictionary of Armenian Personal Names). Aleppo: Kilikia, 2006.
Anahid, Flora. “Women In Western (Turkish) Armenian Culture.” A.R.S. (Armenian Relief Society) Quarterly 10, no. 1 (October 1948): 54.
Asadur, Melkon. “Mayrabednern Ukhdavor” (Pilgrim Nuns), a poem. Sion (Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem), (May 19, 1933).
Chookaszian, L. B. Archag Fetvadjian. Yerevan: Printinfo, 2011.
Hasratyan, Murad and Sargsyan, Zaven. Hayastan: Kristonyakan Jartarapetutyan 1700 Tarin (Armenia: 1700 Years of Christian Architecture). Yerevan: Moughni Publishers, 2001.
Haykakan Sovetakan Hanragitaran (Soviet-Armenian Encyclopedia), vol. 8. Yerevan, 1982.
Khutsyan, Reverend Khoren. Tiflisi Surp Stepanos Kusanats Anapati Badmutiune (The History of St. Stepanos Convent of Tiflis). Tiflis (Georgia): Esperanto, 1914.
Kristonya Hayastan Hanragitaran (Encyclopedia of Christian Armenia). “Halidzori Kusanats Anapat” (The Convent of Halidzor). (Place and date unavailable.)
Mkrtichian, Samuel, ed. Selected Armenian Poets. “Srpuhi Mariam” (Saint Mary), a poem. Yerevan (Armenia): Samson Publishers, 1993.
Navasartian, Alice. The Immortals. (Place and publisher unavailable, 2012.)
Oghlukian, Father Abel. The Deaconess In the Armenian Church – A Brief Survey. New Rochelle (New York): St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 1994.
Rice, C. Colliver. Persian Women and Their Ways. London: 1923.
The Armenian Church, Etchmiadzin, Armenia, Web Site. “Nuns.” Accessed in 2013.
Tsovagan, Bishop Nerses. “Hay Grchuhiner” (Armenian Women Scribes). Sion (April-May, 1954): 133-135.
Ulubabyan, Bagrat. Artsakhi Badmutiune (The History of Arstakh). Yerevan: M. Varandian, 1994.
The author would like to express her deep appreciation to the following for kindly responding to her inquiries regarding The Armenian Apostolic Church and for graciously providing material on the subject:
Deacon Levon Altiparmakian, Director of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, New Rochelle, NY.
Archbishop Aram Atesyan, Deputy General of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey.
Very Reverend Father Krikor Chiftjian, Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Azerbaijan (Adrbadagan), Iran.
Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate, Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.
Ms. Hasmik Melkonyan of the Etchmiadzin Library, Etchmiadzin, Armenia.
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|A Nearly Forgotten History: Women Deacons in the Armenian Church
Armenian nun-deacons, New Julfa (Fr. A. Oghlukian photo)
On Sunday afternoon, June 9, 2013, the Chicago chapter of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society presented a program on a segment of Armenian Church history at the Armenian All Saints Church and Community Center’s Shahnazarian Hall in Glenview, Ill. After welcoming words by the chapter’s chairman, Haroutiun Mikaelian, Ani Vartanian introduced the participants in the program, followed by the presentation of crosses from the Eastern Prelacy to the female members of the choir who had served the church in that capacity for 25 years. Lusine Torian recited the poem “The Armenian Church” by Vahan Tekeyan, followed by Lousin K. Tokmakjian’s piano rendition of “Nor Dzaghig,” a sharagan (or psalm). Following the day’s event, refreshments were served.
The speaker of the day, Knarik O. Meneshian, presented a lecture and slideshow titled “The Armenian Deaconess and Her Forgotten Role in the Armenian Apostolic Church.” After Meneshian thanked the Chicago Chapter of the Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society for inviting her to present her lecture, and greeted the guests, she began her talk with the following introductory remarks:
“Since childhood, I’ve always had a reverence and love for the Armenian Church. I joined the choir when I was a teenager. The Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church, as some of you will recall, was on Lemoyn Street in Chicago at the time. One day, Der Hayr Maronian, the parish priest then, handed me a scroll and told me to go home and study it and be prepared to read it the following week. It was a long scroll, and beautifully handwritten in Armenian. The following week during church service, I was motioned to ascend the altar where I unrolled the scroll and read from the Book of Daniel (Danieli Girk). I’ve never forgotten the serene feeling that came over me in church that day as I read to the congregation.
“Before starting my presentation, I would like to recount a scene from a historical novel I read several years ago on the American Indians. The scene began with an entire village walking—again in search of better hunting grounds. The village elder followed behind the group carrying a tattered bundle on his back. Once in a great while, he slipped something into his bundle, but he never removed anything from it. The people often wondered what it was that he carried in the bag and guarded so carefully. One day, someone asked, ‘Oh, Elder, what is in your bundle? It looks so heavy and seems such a burden to carry.’ The village elder paused and then beckoned everyone to sit down. As they sat around him, the elder gently placed the bundle on the ground and reverently kneeled before it and said, ‘This bag, my people, contains our history. Without it, we would not know who we are; what we are.’
“Now, let’s glimpse into our own history, a segment of our history nearly forgotten: the women deacons of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Kalfayan Sisterhood with Patriarch Galustian (R. R. Ervine photo)
“After Armenia accepted Christianity as the state religion in 301 AD, magnificent things began to take place in the country. Churches were built, some over the ruins of pagan temples. Tatev Vank, for example, was built atop a pagan ruin and Holy Etchmiadzin over a Zoroastrian temple. The alphabet was invented. The Bible was translated into Armenian. The arts, education, and literature flourished. Books such as The History of Vartanank by Yeghishe, The History of Armenia by Khorenatsi, and later, The Book of Prayers by Narekatsi, were written.
“Susan, a woman scribe, copied Yeghishe’s and Khorenatsi’s books, and the scribe Goharine copied Narekatsi’s book. Sharagans were written, some by women, notably Sahagadoukht, a poetess and composer who wrote some of the sharagans for the Armenian Church and taught men while seated behind a canopy. It is believed that some of the ancient pagan tunes were used to sing the psalms.
“Women deacons, an ordained ministry, have served the Armenian Church for centuries. In the Haykazian Dictionary, based on evidence from the 5th-century Armenian translations, the word deaconess is defined as a ‘female worshipper or virgin servant active in the church and superior or head of a nunnery.’ Other pertinent references to women deacons in the Armenian Church are included in the ‘Mashdots Matenadarn collection of manuscripts from the period between the fall of the Cilician kingdom (1375) and the end of the 16th century, which contain the ordination rite for women deacons.’
“The diaconate is one of the major orders in the Armenian Church. The word deacon means to serve ‘with humility’ and to assist. The Armenian deaconesses historically have been called sargavak or deacon. They were also referred to as deaconess sister or deaconess nun. The other major orders of the church are bishop and priest. The deaconesses, like the bishops and monks, are celibate. Their convents are usually described as anabad, meaning, in this case, not a ‘desert’ as the word implies, but rather ‘an isolated location where monastics live away from populated areas.’ Anabads differ from monasteries in their totally secluded life style. In convents and monasteries, Armenian women have served as nuns, scribes, subdeacons, deacons, and archdeacons (‘first among equals’), as a result not only giving of themselves, but enriching and contributing much to our nation and church. In the 17th century, for example, the scribe and deaconess known as Hustianeh had written ‘a devotional collection of prayers and lives of the fathers, and a manuscript titled Book of Hours, dated 1653.’
Dn. Hripsime, Istanbul 1998 (R. R. Ervine photo)
“The following illustrates the length of time it took a candidate, ‘after years of serious spiritual and religious preparation,’ to become an ordained deaconess: The Deacon Hripsime Sasunian, born in Damascus, Syria, in 1928, entered the Kalfayan Sisterhood Convent in Istanbul, Turkey, at the age of 25. At age 38, she was ordained sub-deacon, and at age 54, deacon.
“To appreciate more fully the role of the deaconess in the church, Father Abel Oghlukian’s book, The Deaconess In The Armenian Church, refers to Fr. Hagop Tashian’s book Vardapetutiun Arakelots… (Teachings of the Apostles…), Vienna, 1896, and Kanonagirk Hayots (Book of Canons) edited by V. Hakobyan, Yerevan, 1964, in which a most striking thought is expressed:
If the bishop represents God the Father and the priest Christ, then the deaconess, by her calling, symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit, in consequence of which one should accord her fitting respect.
“The history of the deaconess in the Armenian Apostolic Church can be broken down into two periods: the medieval period beginning in the 9th century, and the modern period beginning in the 17th century to the present, though before the 9th century vague reference is made to them ‘beginning in the 4th century.’ In Prof. Roberta R. Ervine’s published paper titled, ‘The Armenian Church’s Women Deacons,’ which includes a number of fascinating photos of deaconesses, she lists the names of 23 of the Church’s women deacons who have been recorded, along with their ordinations, various activities, and contributions to the church.
“Over the centuries, in some instances, the mission of the Armenian deaconesses was educating, caring for orphans and the elderly, assisting the indigent, comforting the bereaved, and addressing women’s issues. They served in convents and cathedrals, and the general population.
“Though there were those who approved of women in the diaconate, some of the church fathers, such as the clergyman Boghos Taronatsi and Nerses Lambronatsi (1153-1198), whose great uncle was Nerses Shnorhali, did not. Instead, they wanted to close it to them. Interestingly, when Lambronatsi was around ‘37 years old in 1190, his mother Sahandukht and two sisters Susana and Dalita entered the Lambronatsi convent as founding members of that congregation.’
Dn. Hripsime Tahiriants (H.F.B. Lynch photo)
Dn. Hripsime Tahiriants (H.F.B. Lynch photo)
“Mkhitar Gosh (l130-1213), however, who was a priest, public figure, scholar, thinker, and writer, ‘defended the practice of ordaining women to the diaconate,’ Ervine writes, and she adds that in his law book titled, On Clerical Orders and the Royal Family, Gosh described women deacons and their specific usefulness in the following words:
There are also women ordained as deacons, called deaconesses for the sake of preaching to women and reading the Gospel. This makes it unnecessary for a man to enter the convent or for a nun to leave it.
When priests perform baptism on mature women, the deaconesses approach the font to wash the women with the water of atonement behind the curtain.
Their vestments are exactly like those of nuns or sisters, except that on their forehead they have a cross; their stole hangs from over the right shoulder.
Do not consider this new and unprecedented as we learn it from the tradition of the holy apostles: For Paul says, ‘I entrust to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon of the church.’
“Smbat Sparabet (Constable), who lived in the 13th century, was the brother of King Hetoum and an important figure in Cilicia. He was a diplomat, judge, military officer, translator (especially of legal codes), and a writer. In his Lawbook he, like Gosh, also mentions women deacons, but ‘places them under the authority of priests, rather than of male deacons.’
“In his book, The History of the Province of Syunik, the historian and bishop of Syunik, Stepanos Orbelian (1260-1304), also wrote about women deacons. He, like Mkhitar Gosh and Smbat Sparabet, also approved of women deacons and believed that it was a laudable institution. In her paper, Ervine explains that Orbelian placed the deaconess in the role of preacher and Gospel reader, and denoted her status of office as a stole (oorar) on the right side. (Later, the women deacons would wear the stole on the left side, like the male deacons.) She includes this passage from Orbelian’s book on Syunik:
The woman deacon served on the altar, as did her male counterpart, and the bishop did not limit her liturgical service to convent churches only, but she did stand apart from the male deacons for avoidance of any perceived impropriety. She also did not touch the sacred Elements.
“In the 17th century, a great reform movement, begun by Movses Tatevatsi, took place in Etchmiadzin. When Tatevatsi became Catholicos in 1629, he ‘sparked a spiritual and cultural revival not only in the Armenian homeland, but also in communities as far away as Jerusalem.’ He was a great believer in the education of women and encouraged them; as a result, the number of women deacons in the church increased.
“Among the progressive and inspiring changes Tatevatsi made, even before his election to Catholicos, was the building of a convent next to St. Hovhannes Church in Nor Julfa (New Julfa) in 1623. The convent complex, which included a church for monastic women, was called Nor Julfaee Soorp Kadareenyan Anabad (St. Catherine’s Convent of New Julfa) after a 4th-century martyr named Saint Catherine.
“Deaconesses Uruksana, Taguhi, and Hripsime were the founding members of St. Catherine’s Convent, which existed for three and one-quarter centuries. St. Catherine’s Convent ran two schools and an orphanage, and oversaw a factory. In its early years, the convent had many Sisters. Throughout the convent’s history, some of the monastic women were ordained as deaconesses, while others ‘were content with receiving minor clerical orders.’
“By 1839, the number of women at the convent had decreased to 16. The last abbess of St. Catherine’s was Yeghsabet Israelian, whose brother was elected Patriarch Giuregh I in Jerusalem in 1944. Eventually, the number of monastic women at the convent decreased even further and in 1954 the doors of St. Catherine’s were closed.
Knarik Meneshian delivering her lecture (Photo by Murad Meneshian)
Knarik Meneshian delivering her lecture (Photo by Murad Meneshian)
“Around this period, approximately a thousand miles north of New Julfa, in the city of Shusi in Artsakh, there was a small convent whose members never grew beyond five. In the village of Avedaranots, southeast of Shusi, there was another convent. In the northern part of Artsakh, in the Mardagerd region, there was once a monastery for monastic women in the village of Goosabad known as Goosanats Anabad (Convent of the Virgins). Upon the ruins of the monastery a church was built.
“The women’s monastic community of Koosanats Sourp Stepanos Vank (Convent of St. Stepanos Monestary) was established in Tiflis, Georgia in 1725. The mission at St. Stepanos was the training of women deacons. As at St. Catherine’s, the Sisters at St. Stepanos were ordained deaconesses. ‘In 1933, the community comprised 18 members, 12 of whom were ordained deacons.’
“The abaouhi (abbess) of the convent was always an achdeaconess. She wore a ring on her finger and two crosses that hung down her chest. St. Stepanos’ last abbess, Deaconess Hripsime Tahiriants, who was a woman of authority and influence, came from a prominent family. During a trip to Jerusalem, she served on the altar of the Cathedral of Saints James in Jerusalem. The deaconesses of St. Stepanos were noted for their musical abilities, and as a result, they were frequently asked to perform at functions, including funerals. These engagements helped support their religious community. When women entered convents, they brought funds with them to help support themselves. If, however, someone came from an indigent family, then the abbess provided for her needs. Upon the death of a deaconess, whatever money remained after funeral expenses was kept by the convent. If, however, upon the monastic woman’s death, she had not yet attained the rank of deaconess, after funeral expenses, half of the money she brought with her to the convent was returned to the family.
“It is interesting to note that Holy Etchmiadzin’s finely carved wooden doors are a gift from Deaconess Tahiriants. The inscription on the doors read: Heeshadak Avak- Sarkavakoohi Hripsime Aghek Tahiriants, 1889 (In Memory of Archdeaconess Hripsime Aghek Tahiriants).
“In 1892, Deaconess Tahiriants traveled to Etchmiadzin for the consecration of Khrimian Hayrig as Catholicos, and there she presented him with a gold and silver embroidered likeness of the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin. It was on this occasion that she had given H.F.B. Lynch, the author of Armenia: Travels and Studies, her photo, which the author used in his book, and is on the cover of Fr. Oghlukian’s book and in Ervine’s paper.
St. Stepanos’s women’s community ceased to exist before 1939, but Nicolas Zernov, a Russian clergyman and writer on church affairs, wrote in 1939 how impressed he had been when present at the Eucharist in the St. Stepanos Armenian Church in Tiflis ‘where a woman deacon fully vested brought forward the chalice for the communion of the people.’
“According to internet sources, in 1988, the Georgian government took ownership of the 14th-century church. Between 1990 and 1991, all Armenian inscriptions were either removed or destroyed, and burial vaults where the Armenian deaconesses were laid to rest were destroyed. Goosanats Sourp Stepanos Vank is now a Georgian church.
“The Kalfayan Sisterhood of Istanbul, whose ‘stated mission was the care and education of orphans,’ was established in 1866. Patriarch Mesrop Naroyan ordained the sisterhood’s first member, Aghavni Keoseian, as deacon in 1932. Patriarch Shnork Galustian ordained the last, Hripsime Sasunian, in 1982.
“Ervine writes of Sasunian: ‘In 1986, Deacon Hripsime Sasunian visited the Western Diocese of America, where she served the liturgy in a different parish of the Diocese on each Sunday of her visit. She had functioned as head of the Kalfayan Orphanage, served the Patriarchate as an accountant, in addition to serving the Sunday liturgy in various parishes in the capital. Patriarch Galustian used, on the occasion of the ordination of Deacon Hripsime Sasunian, the canon for a male deacon.’
“Deaconess Sasunian was invited to Lebanon in 1990 by His Holiness Catholicos Karekin I to found a new Sisterhood. Named the Sisterhood of the Followers of St. Gayane, it was established next to the Bird’s Nest Orphanage in Byblos, Lebanon. As a result, the monastic veil was awarded to the Sisterhood’s first candidate, Knarik Gaypakyan, in the Cathedral at Antelias on June 2, 1991. ‘At the present time, three women deacons serve the Bird’s Nest Orphanage…under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia.’ (Note: In a press release from the Armenian Prelacy of Aderbadagan, Iran, it was announced that on Mon., June 24, 2013, the Very Reverend Der Grigor Chiftjian, Prelate of Aderbadagan, attended a meeting regarding church matters at the Catholicosate in Antelias. He also visited the Bird’s Nest Orphanage and met with Sisters Knarik Gaypakian, Shnorhig Boyadjian, and Gayane Badakian to discuss how to attract more women to the Sisterhood.)
“Besides the places mentioned, women’s religious communities also existed in Astrakhan, Russia, Bursa, Turkey, and Jazlowiec, Poland. In Astrakhan, two deaconesses, sisters Hrpsime and Anna Mnatsaganyan, served the community. They each gifted a diaconal stole to the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, with the inscriptions ‘Deaconess nun at the Cathedral of Soorp Asdvatsadzeen, Astrakhan, 1837,’ followed by their names. In the 1800’s, in Turkey’s Bursa region, Deaconess Nazeni Geoziumian ran a school for girls, along with her religious duties. In Jazlowiec (pronounced Yaswovietch), Hripsime Spendowski was ordained deaconess. She was the daughter of Stepan Spendowski, an Armenian who had immigrated to Jazlowiec in 1648. The town had a sizeable Armenian population, and the Armenian Prelacy was established there in 1250. Because of Spendowski’s heroism and distinguished military service fighting the Tatars and Turks, who had invaded the town, the King of Poland honored him with the rank of nobility, and bestowed upon him the title of ‘mayor for life’ of Jazlowiez.
“In 1984, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, Primate of the Western Diocese, ordained Seta Simonian Atamian acolyte at the holy altar of St. Andrew Armenian Church, in Cupertino, Calif. In 2002, Archbishop Gisak Mouradian, Primate of Argentina, ordained Maria Ozkul to the diaconate.
“Currently, there is a small number of nuns serving the Armenian Apostolic Church in Armenia. Established in the early part of the 21st century, their order is known as the Sourp Hripsimyants Order. They reside in the vanadoon (monastery) at Sourp Hripsime Church in Etchmiadzin, one of the ‘oldest historical monuments of Armenian architecture and the second church built by St. Gregory the Illuminator during the first quarter of the 4th century, and rebuilt in 618.’
I conclude my presentation with a quote by Bishop Karekin Servantzdiantz who was a student of Khrimian Hayrig, a patriot, preacher, writer, and compiler of Armenian stories—fables, anecdotes, and folk-tales:
Patriotism is a measureless and sublime virtue, and the real root of genuine goodness. It is a kind of virtue that prepares a man to become the most eager defender of the land, water, and traditions of the fatherland.
“The women deacons of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who through the centuries have reverently and humbly served our church and nation, are shining examples of the most eager defenders of the land, water, and traditions of the Fatherland.”
Ervine, Roberta R. “The Armenian Church’s Women Deacons.” St. Nerses Theological Review (New Rochelle) 12 (2007).
Oghlukian, Fr. Abel. The Deaconess In The Armenian Church – A Brief Survey. New Rochelle, NY: St. Nerses Armenian Seminary, 1994.
Barnett, James Monroe. The Diaconate – A Full And Equal Order. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1995.
Karapetyan, Bakour. Haryour Darvah Yerkkhosootyun (A Hundred Year’s Dialogue). Yerevan, Armenia, 1990.
Lynch, H.F.B. Armenia – Travels and Studies,V 1. New York: The Armenian Prelacy, 1990.
Gulbekian, Yedvard. “Women In The Armenian Church.” Hye Sharzhoom (Fresno, CA) (April 1982).
Meneshian, Knarik O. “The Sisters At The Church of St. Hripsime.” The Armenian Weekly (July 10, 2004).
Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. “Year Of The Armenian Woman 2010, Pontifical Message of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos Of The Great House of Cilicia.” New York, 2009.
Karras, Valerie. “Women In The Eastern Church – Past, Present, and Future.” The St. Nina Quarterly, A Journal Exploring the Ministry of Women in the Eastern Orthodox Church, vol.1, no. 1, (Cambridge, MA), 1997.
Der-Ghazarian, Sub-Dn. Lazarus. “On The Order of Deaconesses In The Armenian and Catholic Church – A Concise Overview.” Online article, Dec. 25, 2008.
Synek, Eva M. “Christian Priesthood East and West: Towards A Convergence?” MaryMartha Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1996. (Note: The report, which discusses the deaconesses of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was presented at the XII International Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches, Brookline, Boston, MA, 1995. [Report is Online])
Boyajian, Dikran H., ed. & comp. The Pillars Of The Armenian Church, Watertown, MA: Baikar Press, 1962.
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|Meneshian: Shepherds of the Nation
The Kalfayan Sisterhood (from the article, with photos, titled ‘The Armenian Church's Women Deacons’ by Prof. Ervine)
I remember the first time I entered the Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church in Chicago. My parents, brother, and I had recently immigrated to the United States of America. As DPs (Displaced Persons) from Europe, we came on a battle ship used for transporting immigrants. Church members introduced us to the community and other DPs. I was a kindergartener and, therefore, “old enough to sit through church service,” my parents had smilingly said to me before we entered the church. I sat between my mother, who was cradling my brother in her arms, and my father. There were rows and rows of pews, and so many people sitting in them—ladies, with scarves on their heads, some with hats, dressed in their Sunday best, men in suites, and children all dressed up. Some ladies, like my mother, were also cradling babies in their arms. I gazed with wonder at the large, stained glass windows that were on the right and left sides of the church. With the sun shimmering through them at different times, the windows were magical to me. I stared at the flickering candles slowly melting in the sand-candle-stands. I looked intently at the (Raphael) painting of the Madonna and Child above the altar. It was large and hauntingly beautiful. I glanced at the paintings hanging on the walls just past the side altars, and asked my father who the men depicted in them were. He pointed to the painting on the left wall and whispered, “He is Saint Sahag Bartev.” Pointing then to the one on the right wall, he whispered, “And he is Saint Mesrop Mashdots.” Although the priest spoke in Armenian, I didn’t always understand what he was saying, what the other men at the altar assisting him were chanting, or what the choir was singing. I only knew that I liked the sights and sounds and scent inside this lovely place that made me feel so good. Although we lived far from the church, I liked coming whenever my parents were able to attend. Sometimes we walked, which took such a long time that I would get tired, so my father would carry me the rest of the way. Other times, particularly in inclement weather, we took the bus, and then it was just a short walk to the church.
Eventually, when I was old enough and could walk or take the bus to church on my own, I would attend service by myself. Then one day, I joined the choir. I marveled at the sequined cape and slippers, the lace veil, and the robe the first time I put them on. With hymnbook in hand, I was now a member of the choir, and remained so for a few years. Over the years, our church and community experienced a number of changes, such as the church’s move from Chicago to Glenview, Ill., new clergymen, and more use of English to accommodate parishioners who did not speak Armenian. Women were no longer required to cover their heads in church, except when they took communion. There were the periodic arrivals of new immigrants and newcomers to the city, and some who left. However, there were things that remained the same, such as the church rituals and hymns, the paintings of the Madonna and Child and the two saints, the sand-candle-stands and stained glass windows. Until I was older, and had a family of my own, I did not give much thought to the importance of the clergyman’s role in the community other than performing church service and other church-related duties. Occasionally, though, it did cross my mind, especially as I became acquainted with a number of different clergymen, that some were more outgoing than others; that some seemed to exude more religiousness than others; and that some had a greater impact on the youth, and the congregation in general, than others did. At times, I wondered what it was that prompted these men to become clerics, because I had come to see that the path they chose was not an easy one, whether serving in a city, a town, or a village. When I asked a few of them how it was that they chose to become clerics, one said that he felt the calling to serve God when he was an altar boy; another said it came to him in a recurrent dream he had had when he was little; and another, who was of a higher ranking, pensively explained that it came about because of the poverty into which he was born. A celibate priest who had been working under extremely difficult and harsh conditions in a remote and primitive Armenian village had explained to me in his home there, a dank, dim, spartan hut: “My brother, whom I loved deeply, became gravely ill one day. We were children at the time, and he was my best friend and playmate. As I fearfully watched my brother growing weaker and weaker by the hour, despite the efforts of the doctor, and as I watched my grief-stricken parents and the whole family wailing and moaning at his bedside day and night, I became terribly frightened. Wanting to do something, but not knowing what, I began praying. I prayed with all my heart to God, beseeching Him to restore my beloved brother to health. After many, many days of praying, God at last heard my prayers. And so, in profound thankfulness, I offered my life to serving Him.” The priest had smiled as he joyfully uttered the last sentence.
Painting of the Madonna and Child, 1896, by Vazgen Surenyantz (from the book Soorp Etchmiadzine)
During my early, formative years, and even in subsequent years, some of the clergymen who served our church, and some who served the other Armenian churches in the Chicagoland area, left deep and indelible impressions on me. As a result, they led me to understand better the importance of the Armenian clergyman’s role in a community, not only as a spiritual leader and teacher, but also as a guardian of our heritage. In our church, one such priest was the late Der Hayr (Reverend Father) Sahag Vertanessian, who had a reflective and congenial manner, and always made time to talk to people. He gave meditative sermons, and often provided inspirational reading material to those interested in such subjects. Another priest was the late Der Hayr Smpad Der Mekhsian, who possessed a welcoming and sunny disposition, gave exceptionally moving sermons, and had a smile and warm handshake for everyone. His home-blessing visits were always beautiful and extra-special occasions for our family.
At the Chicagoland’s Armenian Evangelical Church, the retired Reverend Barkev Darakjian was inspirational with his gracious and amiable manner towards both his parishioners and non-parishioners alike, and his promotion of Armenian cultural and educational events.
At the Saint James Armenian Church in Evanston, the late Hayr Soorp (Very Reverend Father/celibate priest) Varoujan Kabarajian left a deep impression on me with his kind and encouraging manner, particularly toward the youth—even those who were not members of his congregation. I was a high school student at the time when I had mentioned to the Hayr Soorp one day during a casual conversation at a community affair that, although I knew how to read and write in Armenian, I wanted to improve my skills. He nodded and then said with a smile, “You are welcome to attend my Armenian language class.” He was a fine teacher, and I learned much in his class. One day, years later, I bumped into the Hayr Soorp in one of the area supermarkets. He was carrying a grocery bag in each arm. After we greeted each other, he asked about my husband and family and announced in his usual jovial manner, “Well, I’m finished with my Easter shopping, so now it’s off to church to prepare Zadig (Easter) treats for the children…!” Learning what the Hayr Soorp was so happily and enthusiastically planning to do for the children at his church reminded me of the late Mkhitarist Fathers Luke (Arakelian), George, and Gregory. How happily and enthusiastically they too performed their duties at the delightful summer camp for boys and girls they ran years ago in Falmouth, Mass. One other person was the Armenian Catholic priest Hayr(Father) Yeghia, who worked devotedly and tirelessly, along with the Armenian Catholic nuns (the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Order) in the villages in Javakhk, Georgia. These humble and dedicated clerics, and nuns, all had two qualities in common—Inspiration and Guidance.
Nuns of the Sourp Hripsimyants Order at Sourp Hripsime Church, Etchmiadzin, 2003 (Photo by Knarik O. Meneshian)
The reflective and poignant homilies that were given in the Chicagoland Armenian community over the years by the Prelacy’s Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian, later His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, then His Holiness Karekin I (of blessed memory) Catholicos of All Armenians; His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; the Diocese’s Archbishop Khajag Barsamian; and the late Reverend Movses Janbazian, director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) filled me with an even greater reverence for my Armenian heritage. All of these spiritual leaders spoke and interacted with the people in a humble, warm, and attentive manner. And, though they were from different orders and ranks, their sacred work was the same—the Fostering of the Armenian People and Nation.
Years have come and gone, and with them many changes, but always one thing has remained constant—the unassuming splendor of the Armenian Church. As I entered our church in Glenview one Sunday, I took a seat behind a young immigrant family. The father was motioning to his little boy and girl to sit quietly, while the mother was cradling their infant in her arms—what a familiar, heartwarming scene it was! As the choir sang “Khorhoort khorin, anhas anusgispan… (O profound mystery, incomprehensible and without beginning…), I began reflecting upon the meaning of the ancient hymn—The Hymn of Vesting. Suddenly, I was distracted by a dull thump that came from the direction of the stained glass windows so iridescent and luminous in the light of the morning sun. No doubt, a bird had struck one of the windows. I hoped it was not injured, and then I gazed for a moment at the flickering candles—prayer offerings to God—in the nearby sand-candle-stand. As prayers and incense, chants and hymns, filled the church, I recalled my first visit to Armenia. It was during the days when God was banned from that part of the world. One of my relatives there had cautiously explained to me, after my visit to Holy Etchmiadzin, that despite the dire consequences for non-compliance, there were those devout souls who, in the refuge of their minds, still prayed and sang the sharagans (hymns). One of those devout souls, who had expressed his religious feelings through some of his art, had been Vazgen Surenyantz. Several of his works, among them his 1896 painting of the Madonna and Child, had been rescued from the hands of the Soviets by the clergy in Etchmiadzin.
Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Order, Gyumri, Armenia, 2003 (Photo by Knarik O. Meneshian)
My thoughts now turned to the elderly woman who was sitting in the pew a couple of rows in front of me. After painstakingly adjusting her headscarf, she struggled to her feet and laboriously walked down the aisle to receive communion. She reminded me of one of the genocide survivors I had interviewed years earlier. Then, as the choir sang the “Aghotk Deroonagan” (Lord’s Prayer), I wondered, as I looked about me at the congregation, many of whom were descendents of genocide survivors, how such a downtrodden, Christian people, who had suffered great tragedies through the centuries—invasion, domination, persecution, slavery, mass murder, and destruction—continued, and continues still, to maintain not only their identity, but their religion as well. What is it that gave them, and still gives them, the fortitude to uphold the heritage of their forefathers?
As the days and weeks passed, I continued to consider the question I had that day in church. Then one evening, while sitting at my desk and looking through a collection of books, booklets, pamphlets, and articles, I realized that the answer lay in our historical figures and their contributions, which through the ages have, knowingly and unknowingly, impacted us as a people and nation. Krikor Bartev Bahlavuni, known as Saint Gregory the Illuminator (circa 239-326), was instrumental in converting pagan Armenia to Christianity and was the first Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church; Saint Sahag Bartev (348-439) was Catholicos during Armenia’s Golden Age of Literature (5th century) and encouraged the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashdots; Saint Mesrop Mashdots (361-440) was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet in A.D. 404 and opened the first Armenian school; Ghevont Yerets (5th century) was the valiant priest who not only preached the Gospel and translated holy writings, but fought and was martyred in the Battle of Avarair—a struggle for religious freedom; Yeghisheh (5th century) was a historian and celibate priest who authored the History of Vartanank, a book on the Battle of Avarair; Movses Khorenatsi was a bishop and historian, author of The Genealogical Account of Great Armenia, also known as The History of Armenia; Ananiah Shirakatsi (7th century), referred to as Vartabet (celibate clergyman) by Archbishop M. Ormanian, was an astronomer, mathematician, scientific researcher, and author (among his works are the Book on Arithmetic and Astronomy and Calendar); Saint Grigor Naregatsi (950-1010) was a clergyman and author, and among his greatest of works is The Book of Lamintations, also known as The Book of Prayers or Narek; Saint Nerses Glayetsi, known as Nerses Shnorhali (1100-1173), was a clergyman, composer, and author of “sharagans (hymns), canticles, and lyrics,” whose prayer, “Havadov Khosdovanim” (I Confess with Faith) has been translated into 36 languages; Mekhitar Kosh (1130-1213) was a celibate priest and “compiler of the first Armenian Corpus Juris or the Code of Civil and Canon Laws”; Mugrditch Khrimian, (1820-1907), Catholicos, known endearingly as Khrimian Hayrig (Father), was a revered religious leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Movement, teacher, publisher, and author; Karekin Servantzdiantz (1840-1892), a student of Khrimian Hayrig, became a bishop, and was a writer, preacher, patriot, and collector and compiler of Armenian allegories, anecdotes, fables, and folk-tales, thus rescuing them from oblivion; Maghakia Ormanian (1841-1918) was a clergyman, Patriarch of Constantinople, scholar, teacher, writer, lecturer; Komitas Vartabed (1869-1935) was a renowned clergyman, teacher, vocalist, musician, composer, and musicologist.
Then, opening one of my folders to look through some notes I had taken on the topic of the Armenian Church, I came across a fragile, yellowed copy of an article I had saved titled “Women in the Armenian Church” by Yedvard Gulbekian, and published in the Armenian paper Hye Sharzhoom in April, 1982. The article began:
“The attempted genocide of the Armenians during the first world war resulted in much more than the loss of a large proportion of the Armenian nation, its material culture, and the Armenian plateau, for the chaos caused by murder, hunger, exposure, disease and invasion, severely disrupted the continuity of customs and traditions, and stunted the proper developments of Armenian institutions during this century.
“Fortunately, much of the musical heritage of Armenia had been saved thanks to the selfless efforts of Komitas Vardapet, and one significant folk epic, Sasountsi Davit, had been committed to writing by Bishop Garegin Srvandztyantz in the 19th century, but much else was irretrievably lost. In particular, the church of Armenia suffered losses that undermined its structure and theology in such a subtle manner as to consign the pre-1915 situation to oblivion.
“One of these victims, now submerged in the national consciousness, was the ministry of women in the church… Its existence was brought to light in 1974 during a historical exhibition in Tehran. This carefully prepared display of Armenian costumes through the ages…included the vestment of a 19th-century Armenian deaconess from Constantinople… That deaconesses were not in minor orders, as some have claimed, but members of the clergy as indicated by the circumstances that they were ordained by bishops… The church of Armenia, which had women ministers until their demise as a consequence of the action of the Ittihad party during the first world war, has forgotten that they ever existed… The late Nicolas Zernov, a prolific writer on church affairs, wrote in 1939 how impressed he had been when personally present at the Eucharist in the Armenian church of St. Stephen in Tiflis ‘where a woman deacon fully vested brought forward the chalice for the communion of the people.’”
Wanting to know more about this intriguing topic, I contacted St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, N.Y. Father Stepanos Doudoukjian (now at St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet, N.Y.), answered my questions and provided me with a copy of Fr. Abel Oghlukian’s book titled The Deaconess In The Armenian Church–A Brief Survey. Seminary faculty member Prof. Roberta R. Ervine sent me a copy of her article published in the St. Nersess Theological Review titled “The Armenian Church’s Women Deacons.”
In his book, Father Oghlukian writes: “The development of the office of deaconess in the Armenian Church can be divided into four historical periods: 1) Greater Armenia in the fourth to eighth centuries. There are uncertain references in the canons to women who have a claim to be present at baptisms. 2) Eastern and Cilician Armenia in the 9th to 11th centuries. There the term deaconess is employed in ritual texts (mastoc) of ordination. 3) From the 12th century there are literary references and rites for the ordination of deaconesses in liturgical texts, first in Cilicia and then in Eastern Armenia. 4) The renewal of the female diaconate in the 17th century.”
The book states that the deaconesses’ vestments, as illustrated in records from the 12th century, “bore a small metal cross suspended from their brow and a stole from their shoulder… In more recent times, photographs of the 19th and 20th centuries illustrate them dressed in a robe during the liturgy and vested in a white veil almost from head to foot.” Contained in the book are the names of female scribes, some of whom were “Goharine who copied Grigor Narekaci’s Prayerbook, the hermit Susan who copied Khorenaci and Eghishe, etc. … the scribe of Matenadaran Ms. No. 39…included her name in the title in an acrostic which reads ‘Ustiane sarkavag’ (deacon).”
In her article, Ervine includes the names of 23 deaconesses of the Armenian Apostolic Church and details the religious communities and various locations the deaconesses have served the Armenian Church from the 17th century, and, in some places, where they continue to serve the church in the 21st century. The names of the religious communities or localities are: St. Catherine’s Nunnery, New Julfa, Iran (founded 1623 and closed in 1954); St. Stephen/Saint Stepanos of the Holy Virgins Church, Tiflis, Georgia; the Kalfayan Sisterhood, Istanbul, Turkey, founded in 1866 (“the ‘last’ currently in service, Sister Hripsime Sasunian, was ordained by Patriarch Snorhk Galustean in 1982”); Byblos, Lebanon; the Cathedral of Holy Theotokos, Astrakhan, Russia; the village of Seoleoz, Diocese of Bursa, Turkey; the Armenian community in Jazlowiec, Poland/Ukraine; the Armenian community in Argentina.
“For some of the women deacons,” Ervine writes, “we have descriptions of the activities in which they were engaged; for some, there are data concerning their ordination; for others, the fact of their presence in a given moment or situation is merely mentioned as something taken for granted and requiring no elaboration… Armenian women in the deaconate have offered centuries of service both illustrious and humble—and certainly various.”
Interestingly, just as the Kalfyan Sisterhood of Istanbul (which included nuns, deaconesses, and arch deaconesses) and the other religious or monastic communities listed above, the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, a religious order of Armenian Catholic nuns, established in 1847 in Constantinople, dedicated themselves not only to God and church, but to the Armenian Nation as well. Both the Armenian Deaconesses and the Armenian Catholic Sisters promoted education, ran schools and orphanages, and tended to the needs of the poor, the downtrodden, and the bereaved. The Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception continue to serve the Armenian People.
Currently, there are a small number of Armenian nuns serving the Armenian Apostolic Church in Armenia. Established in the early part of the 21st century, their order is known as the Sourp Hripsimyants Order. Dressed in long black habits and head coverings, their duties involve praying, serving the monastery’s abbot, visiting neighborhood families, cleaning the church and its property, and preparing meals. They reside in the vanadoon (monastery) at the Sourp Hripsime Church in Etchmiadzin. The church is considered one of the “oldest historical monuments of Armenian architecture and the second church built by St. Gregory the Illuminator during the first quarter of the 4th century…and rebuilt in 618.”
Included in Father Oghlukian’s book, as well as in Ervine’s article, are a number of fascinating photos, including one of “Protodeaconess Sister Hripsime Aghek-Tahireanc in her liturgical vestments, Jerusalem, 19th century (from H.F. B. Lynch’s book titled Armenia: Travels and Studies, Vol. 1),” and a photo of “the doors of the main entrance to the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, donated by Sister Hripsime Aghek Tahirieanc. The inscription reads: ‘In memory of protodeanconess Hripsime Aghek Tahireanc, 1889.’ On the bottom: ‘Ingenieur Nicolas Grigorian.’”
As I put away the books and material I had been reading and looking through, I began thinking about the words Bishop Karekin Servantzdiantz had written: “Patriotism is a measureless and sublime virtue, and the real root of genuine goodness… It is a kind of virtue that prepares a man to become the most eager defender of the land, water, and traditions of his fatherland.”
The Pillars of the Armenian Church, compiled and edited by Dikran H. Boyajian, 1962, Baikar Press, Watertown, Mass.
The Deaconess in the Armenian Church, A Brief Survey, by Father Abel Oghlukian, 1994, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, New Rochelle, N.Y.
“The Armenian Church’s Women Deacons,” by Roberta R. Ervine, St. Nersess Theological Review 12 (2007).
Armashi Dbrehvankuh, by Parouyr Mouradyan and Astgheek Mousheghyan, 1998, Yerevan, Armenia.
A Brief Introduction to Armenian Christian Literature, by Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian, 1960, Faith Press, London; 1974, A Michael Barour Publishing, USA.
An Interpretation of the Holy Liturgy or Soorp Badarak of the Armenian Apostolic Church, by Reverend Gorun Shrikian, the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, New York, N.Y.
A Walk Through the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church: A Guide to the Badarak,
by Very Reverend Father Daniel Findikyan, 2001, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, New York, N.Y.
St. Grigor Narekatsi–Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart, translated by Thomas J. Samuelian, poetic editing by Diana Der Hovanessian, 2002, printed in Armenia.
The Book of Lamentations by Grigor Narekatsi (in Armenian), 1979, Yerevan, Armenia.
Soorp Etchmiadzine, edited by Grigor Khandjian, 1981, Etchmiadzin, Armenia.
“Year of the Armenian Woman 2010,” Pontifical Message of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Dec. 31, 2009, Antelias, Lebanon.
Hye Sharzhoom Armenian Newspaper, April, 1982 issue, Fresno, Calif.
The author would like to express her appreciation to the following for kindly responding to her inquiries regarding the Armenian Church and for graciously providing literature on the subject:
St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Deacon Levon Altiparmakian, director of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.
Father Stepanos Doudoukjian
Professor Roberta R. Ervine
Very Reverend Father Nerses Khalatyan, Etchmiadzin, Armenia, for the book Armashi Dbrehvankuh (The Armash Seminary), and literature on the Armenian Deaconesses.
Dr. Garen Koloyan, Yerevan, Armenia, for delivery of the literature provided by Father Khalatyan.
The author would also like to express her appreciation to the following clergyman for kindly responding to her inquiries on the Armenian Church:
Reverend Father Tavit Boyajian, Sts. Joachim and Anne Armenian Apostolic Church, Palos Heights, Ill.
Very Reverend Father Aren Jebejian, St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church, Chicago, Ill.
Reverend Father Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, St. James Armenian Church, Evanston, Ill.
Reverend Father Zareh Sahagian, Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church, Glenview, Ill.
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