Mekhitarist Order Marks 300th Anniversary

VENICE–The 300th anniversary of the Mekhitarist Order was marked during celebrations and events from Sept. 8 to 10 at the St. Lazzaro Monastery in Venice–Italy.

The celebrations began on Sept. 8 at the monastery–with the participation all clerics of the Order–as well as a large number of parishioners. During this event–four young Armenia’s pledged to become a part of the monastic order. The date of this pledge was symbolic–since the Order was established on Sept. 8–1700 in Constantinople.

On Saturday–Sept. 9–At the St. Marcus Cathedral in Venice–the General Abbot of the Mekhitarist Order–Right Rev. Yeghia Kilaghbian said Mass. Attending the religious ceremony were representatives of the His Holiness Karekin II–Catholicos of All Armenia’s and His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–Arch. Gyud Nakkashian and Right Rev. Nareg Alemezian respectively.

Also attending the event were the leader of all Armenian Catholics–Catholicos Patriarch Nerses Boghos XIX–the Patriarch of Venice–Cardinal Marco Ze–as well as leaders of the Armenian–Latin–Coptic religious leaders and countless guests who had converged on St. Lazzaro Island from the Middle East–Europe and the US to mark this important anniversary.

In his Sermon–Cardinal Ze commended the 300-years service of the Mekhitarist Brotherhood and outlined the important mission of the order in religious–inter-denominational–publishing–cultural and other arenas. He also praised a recent decision to unite the two Mekhitarist orders of Vienna and Venice–following which Abbot Kilaghbian was elected as the general abbot of the Mekhitarist order.

Also–for the first time in Mekhitarist history–the names of both Catholicos Karekin II and Aram I were mentioned during the holy liturgy.

On Sept. 10–a series of events marking the tri-centenial were held at the Monastery on St. Lazzaro Island. One of the events was held at the former printing center of the Monastery–where the second volume of Armenian miniature art was inaugurated and presented by literary critics.

An exhibit of the Mekhitarist Order’s vast legacy in publishing included old printing presses–Armenian language maps–as well as early publications produced at the Monastery.

Later that evening–at main Cathedral–a celebration was held with numerous religious and lay dignitaries present. Among the honored guests at the event were Vatican representative His Beatitude Claudio Guccerotti. At this time–Catholicos Karekin II representative–Arch. Nakkashian presented Patriarch Nerses Boghos XIX with a commemorative cross-stone on behalf of the Catholicos and the Holy See of Etchmiadzin. Right Rev. Alemezian–representing Catholicos Aram I expressed congratulatory remarks–while Zara Mardirossian of Armenia’s representation in Italy presented president Robert Kocharian’s congratulatory message on the tri-centenial.

Among the political officials attending the gathering were the governor of Venice Vincenzo Barbati–chairman of the Venice State Council Enrico Cavalieri–as well as Armenia’s Ambassador to Italy Gagig Baghdassarian–Armenian government religious affairs commission chairman Razmik Margossian and a representative of Armenia’s foreign ministry Diaspora desk Jivan Movsessian.

Conveying remarks in Italian was the chairman of the Armenian Society of Italy Hagopig Manougian–while the keynote speaker of the event was Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–who outlined the important and historic role the Mekhitarist Order has played in shaping of Armenian history.

Closing remarks were made by Abbot Kilaghbian–following which a cultural program–produced especially for the tri-centential was presented.

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