The Church of Armenia by Malachia Bedros Ormanian
The Church of Armeniaby Malachia Bedros Ormanian

Liturgy & Literature




Chapter 34

The Church Buildings


As the splendor of church buildings depends on the importance of the community, and, above all, on the liberality of those who make endowments, one cannot, therefore, expect to come across anything of magnificence in this class of possessions among the Armenians. This is not in the least surprising, if we remember the unenviable social conditions in which this nation has existed until the present time. It is not, therefore, from this point of view that the following account of its churches will be given. The only points to be considered here are their rites and their canonical practices.

The customary form of the sacred buildings of the nation is ordinarily rectangular. The high altar is invariably placed on the East side, in keeping with ancient directions, whereby it was expected that the faithful should, in their prayers, face towards that quarter of the horizon. Internally, the churches are portioned off into four divisions, in the direction of their length. First comes the vestibule, which was formerly separated from the nave by a wall, for which is substituted at the present time a high grating. Here remain the penitents and the catechumens during the celebration of divine service. Here, too, are recited the ordinary daily offices. The vestibule has not retained its primitive significance, yet the grille has been kept up as a survival of early canons.

After this comes the church, properly so called – that is, the nave, which is intended for the generality of the faithful. The women and the men are separated therein. Formerly this part of the building was exclusively reserved for men; women were obliged to ascend to the galleries, which were provided with a heavy trellis. In these days this custom is no longer in force in the town churches, but the separation of the sexes in the church is always indispensable. [Where churches have been built in Western countries and their colonies, the practice of separating the sexes no longer exists. Moreover, seats are provided for the congregations in these churches, vide infra.] During certain solemn occasions, at funerals and at the requiem commemorations, the clergy and the choristers advance into the center of the nave and sing amidst the faithful.

Next comes the choir, which is raised by a step, and separated, across the entire breadth of the church, by a grille, breast high. The clergy and the choristers, divided into two groups, take their stand there, the one on the right and the other on the left, so as to take alternate turns in the singing of the psalms and the hymns.

The farthest part of the church forms a platform, to which access is given by two lateral flights of stairs of about four or five steps to each. In the middle and beneath the apse stands the high altar, which is composed of a base and a table in marble, and has been consecrated with the holy chrism. It is detaches in such a way as to allow of an open space all round it. It is fitted with steps, on which are placed candelabra and ornaments of various kinds. Above the altar hangs a holy picture, which is invariable the representation of the Virgin and Child. As an exception, there are substituted for this, at the feasts of the Resurrection and of the Holy Cross, pictures suited to the solemnity of the day.

In order to follow national traditions, the churches should be surmounted with cupolas and bell-towers; but until lately the Turks had forbidden the custom, and it is only quite recently that they have relaxed their stringency in this respect. However, such an architectural taste cannot even then be indulged in without a special authorization from the sultan. The shape of the cupolas is narrowed down to a point, like a pointed-shaped drum, rather calling to mind the headgear of the celibate clergy, the so-called veghar. What in particular arrests the notice of a stranger who visits these churches is their aspect of austere simplicity, which is in direct contrast wit the profusion of ironwork and gilding to be found in Greek Orthodox churches. In these Armenian churches pictures are unusual, except over the altar, although they are never quite absent.

There is only one altar, where the one daily mass is performed. The two small altars usually to be seen in the side aisles are only placed there for decorative purposes. In the large cathedrals they are so constructed as to enable the divine sacrifice to be celebrated at them on certain days in the year; but when this takes place, the high altar remains unoccupied. When more than one mass is required, it is then necessary to connect the chapels with the nave, so as to form, as it were, so many separate churches. However, an endeavor is always made to avoid a multiplication of masses on the same day. The chapels are only made use of to commemorate the festivals of the saints to whose name they are dedicated. Thus the churches of Galata and of Koomcapoo, in Constantinople, each form three building in one, and all embrace precisely the same features. Such an arrangement was chosen to meet the want or a large number of the faithful, who but lately resided in these part; but as the locality has now been to some extent abandoned, the number of masses has been reduced in those churches to what is absolutely necessary.

Indeed, the principle of having a daily mass has long since fallen into disuse. The liturgical canons only forbid its being performed on the five days (Monday to Friday) of each week in Lent, and in the Aradjavor (Fast of the Forerunner). Custom at the present time limits it to Saturdays and Sundays, as well as to feast days in the large churches. In rural parishes it is more uncommon for the mass to be said. But the daily recital of the offices is everywhere is everywhere scrupulously observed.

Every church should have two vestries: one which opens to the right of the building, and contains the baptismal fonts; the other to the left, which is set apart for the keeping of vestments and articles intended for the services. The throne of the diocesan bishop has a permanent place only in the cathedral church. It is but a simple east, raised by one or two steps, and occupying a position at the entrance to the choir, to the left, and facing the altar. It is not surmounted by a canopy, except in patriarchal churches and in the cathedrals of important dioceses. Neither chairs nor benches are placed at the disposal of the clergy, who seat themselves on carpets or hassocks within reach. The congregation, too, in like manner, remain standing, thought the custom prevails in Turkey to follow the example of the clergy. But quite recently the use of benches has begun to spread in Constantinople and in the large towns. This example will, doubtless, before long, be imitated in other places.

The approach to the church is invariable by a courtyard, around which are ranged apartments intended for the use of the staff. In the first place there is the room called Bankal, where candles are sold, and where alms are received. Then come the chambers intended for the council of the ephorate and the parochial chancery. Next to these are the rooms for the priests, both for the celebrant and for those employed in the service of the church. The parochial school is usually accommodated within the same enclosure. A fountain and closets for the general convenience are set up in a corner. All these buildings are always surrounded by a wall which forms an enclosure. The church and the outbuildings are in the absolute ownership of the community or of the parish.


Chapter 35

The Ministers of Worship


We have already had occasion to draw the reader’s attention to ministers of worship; first, in the chapter devoted to the sacraments, and then in the short description of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. We will, however, return to this subject for the purpose of explaining certain customs of the Armenian Church which are connected with the liturgy.

The several ranks in the hierarchic scale embracing the ecclesiastical staff are at the present time as follows: 1) clerks (dpir); 2) deacons (sarkavag); 3) priests (kahana or eretz); 4) arch-priests (avagueretz); 5) archimandrites or doctors (vardapet); 6) bishops (episcopos); 7) patriarchs (patriark); and 8) catholicos.

By clerks are meant individuals who have received ordination of the four minor orders, that is to say, the orders of ostiarius (verger), reader, exorcist, and acolyte, which are no longer separately conferred. The sacristans and the precentors should as a rule be included in these orders, so as to connect them with the service of the church. The ordination which these receive in no way prevents them wearing lay dress and living in the world. While in church, they wear an ecclesiastical dress consisting of a long buttoned-up vestment, called shapik (alb),  which comes down to the feet. It can be made of any kind of cloth, linen or velvet, according to fancy. The humeral veil, which is placed over it, covers the shoulders, the back, and the breast, and is often richly embroidered; it is made of a more costly material than the rest. Three crosses adorn the back and the two sides of the front. The humeral veil should properly be fitted on to the shapik, but, in contravention of regulations, it has become the custom in these days to wear it as a kind of cape.

The seminarists, [seminarians] at the time of their admittance, also receive the minor orders. They wear over the cassock a long black habit, open in front, which is called verarkoo; it is a kind of loose oriental robe with flowing sleeves.

As we have already stated, deacons exist now only in the monasteries; that is to say, among the celibate clergy. Scarcely forty in number, they are to be met with scattered among the religious institutions. The sub-diaconate is conferred on them at the same time as the diaconate, and their dress scarcely differs from that of other ecclesiastics. They wear the phakegh, a kind of black cap without a peak, resembling the kamelafka of the Greek clergy; it is only more shallow in shape, and the upper part is pointed. Within the church, their dress is the shapik, cut higher up, with the oorar, a stole of over three meters in length and between ten and fifteen centimeters wide, ornamented with three crosses. It is worn over the left shoulder, and its ends fall, both front and back, down to the feet. The same stole can be had longer, and then it hangs down over the two sides from the left shoulder, after being would round once under the right armpit. The duties of a deacon are described in the liturgical books. When there is no deacon, the priest does duty for him, assuming the dress suitable to that order. His chief functions are incensing, reading the gospel at the mass, and the solemn removal of the money from the offertory plates.

Married priests are recruited from all classes of society, but preference is given to precentors and to the masters of the school. But more often there is a succession from father to son in the priesthood. Mention could be made of certain families, amongst whom might be reckoned from twenty to thirty generations of priests. The conditions demanded of candidates, besides parochial election, are, acquaintance with ecclesiastical and liturgical matters, a steady and generally exemplary life; moreover, the consent of their wives. Each priest is canonically associated with one church, and he cannot be appointed to another charge without submitting himself afresh for election. The extent of their education is usually in proportion to the social and material conditions of the parish. Frequently the choice falls on those who are resident in the parish.

After their ordination they are subjected to a severe fast (karasoonk), which last for forty days. They prepare themselves for their first mass by a life of retreat in the church, restricting themselves to a vegetable diet for twenty-four hours. During this time they devote themselves to the duties of their calling. Their wives (eretzkin), on their part, observe in their homes the propriety of the customary abstinence. These latter enjoy a certain precedence in society. The life of priests is strictly the family life, with the limitation, of course, that their duties are their primary obligation. They may not, under any pretext, excuse themselves from performing their offices in the church. With that exception, they may attend to their own domestic affairs, and even engage in some professional work within the limits of propriety. One week, or at least three days, before the celebration of the mass, they keep away from the married home, in order to pass the nights in the precincts of the church. Formerly their dress did not differ from that of the laity, with the exception of the black verarkoo, which forms their distinctive badge; but gradually the ecclesiastical dress has become a necessity; the example was first set by the towns, and It has been copied by the villages, they wear a black cassock, and the phakegh of the same color. In the villages cassocks of different colors may be seen, for the secular clergy are in no way restricted from following the common usages of the people.

Within the church they wear a plain black woolen cloak (philon) for the usual offices. They are empowered to wear the philon in flowered or colored silk as a mark of honorary reward. Another distinction which is conferred on them is the right to wear a plain pectoral cross of gilded bronze. The sacerdotal vestments consist of a plucial or chasuble (shoordjar), below which are the shapik or alb in white linen, the pectoral stole (porooorar); a girdle (goti) and maniples (baspan) on the forearms. Above the shoordjar there stands round the shoulders a large color (vakas), upright and stiff. A round miter (saghavart) is worn on the head, with ornamentation around it representing foliage, and surmounted with a little cross. During solemn offices the shoordjar takes the place of the philon. It should be added for the sake of information that the number of married Armenian priests may be reckoned at a minimum of about four thousand.

The archpriests are a step above the priests, and the only point of distinction between them and the priests is that on them lies the obligation of superintending the spiritual administration of the church. [This number has been greatly decreased by the First World War massacres and deportations, and unfavorable political conditions following.]

The celibate clergy have precedence over the married clergy to such a degree that the latter are obliged to give way to the veriest novice among the former. As we have shown above, the celibate clergy are ranked in three grades. Precedence among them is governed by their order in seniority, and takes no account of their particular grade. In external appearance, there  is nothing to distinguish the celibate from the married priests. In the towns they wear the phakegh  in black velvet, the upper portion being violet; but they may wear it entirely of black. Their vestments are of the same color. Within the church their philon is usually of black silk; those of the ordinary vardapets are flowered, while sacerdotal vestments are identical with those of the priests; but they possess the right to bear the doctoral crosier. The pectoral crosses, conferred as a mark of distinction, are ornamented with precious stones. There Is used in the Armenian Church a small hand cross of metal, having four arms of uniform length, with intervening rays, but without the figure of Christ; it has a metal handle, which is encased in some rich or embroidered stuff. In the center of it a relic is placed. This cross, which is consecrated with the holy chrism by the same observances as the pictures and crosses placed over the altars, is taken in the hand when giving the benediction during the various ceremonies. The mitre of the vardapets, sufficient has already been said in the chapter on the ranks of the hierarchy. The total number of celibate Armenian clergy, including bishops, does not exceed four hundred. [This number has been greatly decreased by the First World War massacres and deportations, and unfavorable political conditions following.]

The usual dress of bishops scarcely differs from that of vardapets; they wear, in addition, the ring on the little finger of the right hand; only those of the rank of catholicos wear it on the ring finger. The mitre and the crosier, which are always richly ornamented, are like those used by the Latins. The omophorion or pallium is wider and longer than that used by other Christian denominations. It is more than four meters long, and from twenty-five to thirty centimeters wide; it is richly embroidered, and is made to pass over the back and breast in such a way that its ends reach down to the feet. The pectoral cross peculiar to bishops, called panague  (from the Greek Panaia), is in the shape of an oval badge, ornamented with precious stones, whereon the picture of the Virgin or of Christ is set. As we have already pointed out, this custom has been borrowed from the Greek Orthodox Church.

Besides the appointed throne in the cathedral, bishops have the right to a movable seat on the platform of the altar for the purpose of preaching; or in the middle of the church during the offices. Outside their own dioceses they have no such right to a movable seat. In kissing the hand of bishops, Armenians neither approve of the kneeling attitude of the Latins, nor the adorations of the Greeks; a uniform simplicity governs all their ceremonies. The title of archbishop (arkepiscopos) is merely honorary, and confers no right of precedence; incumbents of this rank are subject solely to their order of seniority.

The outward privileges of the patriarch of Jerusalem and of Constantinople consist in their right of precedence, which thy retain even after resignation, and also in the honors connected with their position.

To the dignity of catholicos are attached certain special honors, which become their due on  receiving consecration with the holy chrism. It is worthy of notice that the pope of Rome and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople undergo no consecration, but they attain to the supreme pontificate simply by means of election and of entering into possession. The Armenian catholicos has, for outward symbol, the konker (epigonation), reminiscent of the pastoral napkin, which they wear at the waist or on the left side. At the time of their consecration the head is covered with a large veil (kogh) of thick silk, lined and embroidered. On days of great ceremony this veil is solemnly carried in front of them. The little cross of diamonds which the catholicos of Etchmiadzin fastens on the veghar is a decoration conferred on him by the emperor of Russian. The prerogatives of catholicos, as well as their mutual relations, have already been explained in the chapter on the Armenian hierarchy.



Chapter 36

The Obligations of Worship


In the matter of devotion, the faithful Armenian is not bound by any prescribed rules, the breach of which would lay him under the ban of sin, whether mortal or venial. The Church contents herself with enjoining what is expedient, and shows the way for carrying out her precepts; she invests her exhortations with the spirit of gentleness, and strives to win over the faithful by the pomp of her ceremonies. In short, she does not say that to neglect her precepts is to make a man guilty of sin.

The keeping of the Lord’s day holy, by abstaining from all servile work, is one of her precepts. Following primitive custom, the Sunday begins on Saturday, and terminates on the evening of the next day; that is, from sunset to sunset. Every pursuit is termed servile work the end of which is gain. Indeed, the ecclesiastical authorities never refrain from encouraging the performance of manual work by the people, when such work has for its purpose charity or piety. In aid of works of this character, therefore, they are asked to labor gratuitously on Sundays. Moreover, in any pressing work of recognized public utility, labor is permitted.

The festivals prescribed by the Church are very few in number; for those of the Transfiguration, the Assumption, and the Exaltation of the Cross are transferred to the nearest Sunday. Certain other festivals which are celebrated at the present time on fixed days, such as the Theophany, the Purification, and the Annunciation, were not in former times celebrated in this way; others, such as the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Conception of the Virgin, are only to be reckoned from later centuries; and yours to diminish the number of days wherein no work is done.

There is no material condition attached to the obligation of Sunday devotions. As there is only one mass I each church, and this is always chanted, it cannot be possible to require, as the bounded duty of the faithful, attendance at the entire mass, or at any fixed portion of it. The actual presence of the faithful during a suitable period, whether at the offices or at the mass, is sufficient for the fulfillment of his devotional duty. Even if he has attended the Saturday vespers, it is looked upon as an act of devotion on the Lord’s day. As the offices and the mass are of equal prescriptive merit, it happens that the faithful are usually most regular at the offices of the prayerbook.

The chief prayer in use is the Hayr-mer (Our Father), or Paternoster, in the literary or classical language. The Ave Maria and the devotion of the Rosary are unknown among Armenians, although those observances, which are peculiar to the Latin Church, have been adopted by the Armeno-Catholics. The people repeat the formula Ter-Voghormia (Lord, have mercy) as often as they please, even up to a hundred times. Passages of the offices are also known to the faithful by heart. Prayer books, apart from those of the liturgy, are not in use; the people follow the liturgy, and mentally or tacitly accompany the hymns and psalms which are sung by the choir, and they add their amen to the prayers said by the priests. To assist them in this accompaniment, the principal portions of the offices have been published for their use in the literary language, with translations facing these, in the vulgar tongue.

The religious spirit, although signs of its enfeeblement are appartent in our time, has still its hardy roots embedded with the souls of men. Most of the artisans and laborers, on their way in the mornings to their daily toil, do not fail to enter the churches which lie on their road. They invariable begin their day’s work by a brief devotional act. In the towns of Turkey the churches devote one day in the week to the blessing of water with a special ritual. The relics of the Holy Cross and of the saints are immersed in vessels filled with water; more frequently, the relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator, of St. John the Forerunner (Baptist), of St. James of Nisbis, or of St. George the martyr. On these occasions there is a great gathering of the faithful. Water thus blessed is used for drinking purposes, and even for ablutions, for popular fervor endows it with curative virtues. This rite is know under the name of khachanguist (station of the Cross). For private prayers there is also used a book called Narek, composed by the monk St. Grigor of Narek (1003). This collection, which is written in a florid and sublime style, is regarded as a potent talisman against all kinds of dangers.

It is required by ancient custom that the faithful should submit to the sacrament of confession and partake of the sacrament of communion on the occasion of the five great festivals of Theophany, the Resurrection (Easter), the Assumption, the Transfiguration, and the Exaltation of the Cross. The obligation on the two last has for a long time fallen into disuse; but on the other three occasions it is always in favor among the devout. The greater mass of the people faithfully observe the Paschal (Easter) communion. The fast which is a preparation for it begins at bedtime, or rather at the end of the night’s sleep, without regard to the hour of midnight.

A pilgrimage to the Holy Places always affords an honorable possibility for the pious faithful to take advantage of, in order to resort to the Holy Sepulcher and those scenes which have been hallowed by the presence of the Redeemer. The most celebrated places of national pilgrimage are the holy cathedral of Etchmiadzin, the cathedrals of Soorp Karapet (St. John the Forerunner) at Moosh and at Caesarea, and the sanctuary of Charkhaphan (Our Lady of Reservatrix) at Armash, near the town of Izmit. [Of these places of national pilgrimage only the cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin remains. The others were destroyed by the Turks during the First World War. In the last two decades the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias, Lebanon, has also become a center of national pilgrimage.]

Lithtin candles before pictures, pouring oil into church lamps, gifts of incense for liturgical purposes, presenting to the churches articles used in public worship and sacerdotal vestments, all form a part of the ordinary and customary acts of devotion. Signs of the cross and kneeling or adoration are very often resorted to during the prayers. The sign of the cross is made from left to right, as among the Latins. Proper genuflections consist in bending both knees to the ground and then in inclining the body forward to the ground in embrace. But as European costume has at present been generally adopted, and does not lend itself easily to such a movement, a simple inclination of the body, without giving up the traditional act of kneeling, is considered sufficient.

Abstinence days are many in the Armenian calendar. In the first place, two days in the week, Wednesday and Friday, are devoted to abstinence. The Paschal abstinence is observed for forty-eight consecutive days, from Shrove Monday to Holy Saturday. In addition, there are ten weeks of abstinence in the year, or nearly a week in a month; each week embracing a period of five or six days. On these occasions only nourishment of a vegetable kind is permitted, for everything which belongs to the animal kingdom is regarded as meat diet; honey is the only exception. Milk diet and fish are allowed only on the eve of the five great festivals, and after the mass of the day. A prescribed dispensation from abstinence is allowed during the forty days following Easter, and during the octave of the Theophany. Altogether there may be reckoned to be a total of a hundred and sixty days of abstinence during the year.

The fast, in addition to abstinence, is prescribed only in Lent, during the five days of the week, from Monday to Friday, and in the week of the Aradjavor.  Nowadays, the fast – that is, abstinence from all food- is kept from early morning until midday; formerly it lasted until vespers. Notwithstanding the fervent zeal displayed by the Church and the faithful Armenians in holding to this custom, which is taken as a matter of devotion, its observance is looked upon, nevertheless, as an external law; that is, one of supererogation.


Chapter 37

The System of the Calendar


We will not linger by explaining the civil calendar in use among the early Armenians, nor by reviewing the calendar of Hayka sherdjan (cycle of Orion), which embraces a period of 1,460 years, in addition to one bissextile year. Neither do we propose to explain their year of twelve months, which is uniformly composed of thirty days in each, with five days intercalated. The Julian calendar, commonly described under the nane of Old Style, is the one which the Armenians of Russia and Turkey, and even those who have emigrated and are scattered over Europeand America, follow at the present time. This calendar is now well understood, and it is know that from the beginning of the twentieth century the dates of this calendar are thirteen days behind the dates of the calendar in use in Western Europe, know as the Gregorian calendar, or the New Style. We will rather attempt to explain the system adopted in the celebration of Armenian festivals. [Since 1923, by the encyclical of the catholicos Gueorg V (November 9, 1922, everywhere except within the Armenian patriarchate of Jerusalem, and also in some dioceses within the Soviet Union, the Gregorian calendar or the New Style is used.] Entire Christendom has taken solar computation as forming the basis for fixing days for her festivals, so that a certain day of a certain month is always devoted to the festival of a certain saint. Only the festivals of Eastertide follow the lunar computation, but these are adjusted by a special method to fit in with the general computation.

The system adopted in the Armenian calendar for the celebration of feasts is not based on the days of the month, but on those of the week. It thus constitutes a calendar which is peculiarly hebdomadal in character. In the whole year there are only fourteen celebrations which fall on certain fixed days of the month, and this practice has been in force for the last few centuries. These are the nine days of the Theophany (from January 5th to 13th), and the five festivals of the Virgin, viz. the Purification (February 14th), the Annunciation (April 7), the Nativity (September 8th), the Presentation (November 21st), and the Conception (December 9th). The remainder of the year is arranged according to the successive order of weeks and the days of each week.

The starting-point is from Easter Day, which is always calculated in accordance with the old style. In the first place, by calculating backwards from Easter Day, a pause is made at the tenth Sunday. Of these ten weeks which precede the Easter festival, the first is devoted to the abstinence of the Aradjavor (which is preparatory), the two following weeks are taken up with the festivals of saints, the six other weeks constitute Lent, and the tenth is Holy Week. A period of fourteen weeks is then counted after Easter; on the fourteenth Sunday falls the festival of the Transfiguration, which lasts for three days. The first seven weeks constitute the fifty days which separate the Resurrection from the Pentacost; the eighth week is the octave of Pentecost; the five others which follow are taken up with festivals of saints; at the fourteenth the abstinence for the Transfiguration begins. This series of twenty-four weeks, or of one hundred and seventy-one days, constitutes the paschal period, and comprises nearly half the year. It is observed always in the same manner, and in accordance with the order of the days of the several weeks.

It should be noticed here that the Armenian computation for Easter is identically the same as that of the Greeks, with the sole difference that, four times in a cycle of five hundred and thirty-two years, the two Easter occur with a week’s interval between them. This deviation is caused by the difference between the epacts of the Alexandrine calendar of Eas, which the Armenians follow, and the Byzantine calendar of Irion, adopted by the Greeks. On the four dates above mentioned, the full moon, according to Irion, makes its appearance on Saturday, April 5th, and on the following day, the 6th, Easter is celebrated; whilst according to Eas, it is on Sunday, April 6th, that the full moon should appear; and consequently the festival is put off to the 13th day of the same month. It is what the Armenians call Dzrazatik (erroneous Easter). This difference has always been the cause of strife between the Greeks and the Armenians, especially at Jerusalem. The last dzrazatik too place in the year of 1824; but in consideration of the close bonds of friendship which existed at this period between the Russian government and the see of Etchmiadzin it was considered politic to let the occasion pass unnoticed, and the Armenians celebrated their Easter on April 6th, simultaneously with the Greeks and the Russians. This deviation will recur again in the year 2071, unless the question of dzrazatik has been definitely settled by that time.

In returning to t he Armenian calendar, it should be observed that the remainder of the year, outside the period of the twenty-four weeks, constitutes a second extra-paschal period, divided into five parts, which are arranged in connection with the fixed festivals, whereby the calculation of these five portions is regulated. Four of these portions comprise the festival of the Assumption, on the nearest Sunday to August 15, either before or after; the festival of the Exaltation of the Cross, on the Sunday nearest to September 14th; the commencement of the Advent, on the Sunday nearest to November 18th; and the festival of the Theophany, on January 6th. There is also a portion which varies each year in duration, making in all five small portions, and these are made to counterbalance each other.

The daily festivals are regulated on the same hebdomadal system; that is to say, in the order of the days of the week. The variations in the number of weeks belonging to each of the above small periods necessitate the occasional transposition of a certain number of festivals. This also applies to the festival which come after the end and before the beginning of the paschal season. For the movable character of the Easter festival, which permits of a difference up to thirty-five days, brings at times the beginning of the paschal period as near to the Theophany as the end of it is removed from the Assumption, and vice versa; and the festivals of these two partial periods are made to change their places as the necessity arises.

The essential characteristic of the hebdomadal system is such that it allows even the nature of the festivals to be regulated according to the days of the week. Sundays are exclusively dedicated to the Resurrection and all other dominical festivals. Wednesdays and Fridays are reserved for the offices of penitence. The festivals of saints can only be celebrated on the four remaining days; that is, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The days for penitence and those devoted to saints can be converted into domincal festival days by interrupting their appropriate services. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays can be converted for the office of penitence, but this cannot be done with Saturdays. It will be seen clearly by the details given above that the festival days of saints can be changed annually, and consequently a special calendar has to be prepared each year, regulated by the day which is assigned for Easter. As it is the intention of this work to give the reader a mere account of the subject, what has already been said must suffice to explain the position.


Chapter 38

The Dominical Festivals


The limits of space prevent any digression into details concerning the celebration of festivals. Under the name of dominical (teroonakan) festivals, the Armenian Church includes all solemnities in honor of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Virgin, the Holy Cross, and the Holy Church. Neither the commemoration of a saint nor the penitentiary offices can be associated with these festivals; for the offices of the day in connection with them are exclusively devoted to the divine mystery. They may be divided into three groups, according as they have for their object the Redeemer, His divine Mother, or the Redemption itself.

In the first group, the festival of the Theophany comes first, wherein are united all the mysteries which preceded the gospel life of Christ. There are thus brought together into this one solemnity the Annunciation, the Birth, the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism, and the revelations by the Jordan. It was in this spirit that the Theophany was formerly celebrated by the ancient Churches; and it was only later that the Syrian, Latin, and Greek Churches changed the Theophany into two distinct festivals viz. those of the Birth, or Christmas, and of the Epiphany. But the Armenian Church has maintained the tradition intact. By her, the Theophany is celebrated on January 6th, taking in the eve, the 5th, and the octave until the 13th.

Holy Week, which forms an octave of dominical festivals, comes next. It commences on the eve of Palm Sunday, which is dedicated to the miracle of the raising of Lazarus, and ends on Holy Saturday, thus bringing to a close, by the placing of the Body into the sepulcher, the commemoration of the mysteries of the Redemption.

The Resurrection is solemnized during thirty-nine days, and the Ascension for ten full days. The fiftieth day ushers in the Pentecost and the festival of the Holy Spirit, which lasts seven days Thus a cycle of sixty-four consecutive days of dominical festivals are accounted for, and during this period no commemoration of saints may be observed.

The Transfiguration falls on the seventh Sunday after the Pentecost. Thus bringing the paschal period to a close, the Monday and the Tuesday following     being attached to it. It is also described under the name of Vardavar (festival of roses), which has been adopted by Christian tradition from the name of a pagan festival.

To complete this short survey of the solemnities observed in honoring the Redeemer, it must be remembered that all the Sundays in the year are dedicated to the Resurrection, when there is no other dominical festival connected with them. To the Sundays in Lent is attributed the character of expectation for the Resurrection.

The second group of dominical festivals is connected with the person of the Blessed Astwadzadzin (Mother of God), for whom are used the same form of offices as is devoted to Jesus Christ. The chief of these is the Assumption, which is taken to mean her sleep and her exaltation through the divine vision. It has already been stated that this festival is observed on the Sunday nearest August 15th, that is, between the 12th and 18th of this month; it lasts nine days, until the second Monday inclusive. It is only since the fifth century that the Purification and the Annunciation, on February 14th and on April 7th respectively, began to be celebrated. The festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, which is observed on September 8th, was first introduced in the thirteenth century. Those of the Presentation (November 21st) and of the Conception (December 9th) only date from the seventeenth century. The commemorations of the invention of the veil and of the girdle of the Blessed Virgin trace their origin from the end of the eighteenth century. These are celebrated on the sixth Sunday after the Pentecost and on the third after the Assumption.

To the last group belong the festivals of the Holy Cross and of the Holy Church. The most important are the festival of the Exaltation, which falls on the Sunday between September 11th and 17th, and that of the Invention, which falls on the seventh Sunday after the Exaltation; the Apparition of the Cross at Jerusalem, in 351, is observed on the fifth Sunday after Easter, and the Apparition at Varag, near Van, in 653, on the third Sunday after the Exaltation. The festival of the Exaltation lasts an entire week, the others, for one day only.

The festivals of the Holy Church, which is a manifest token of the Redemption, are also observed. They take up chiefly the Tuesday, the Wednesday, and the Thursday of the week of the Exaltation. Represented in this group are the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (on the eve of the Exaltation); the dedication of the cathedral of Etchmiadzin (on the eve of the Assumption; the vision of the Descent of the Only Begotten, which appeared to St. Gregory, the Illuminator (on the third Sunday after the Pentecost); the commemoration of the Ark of the Covenant, or of the establishment of the Old Testament as a prophetic witness to the New (on the eve of the Transfiguration); New Sunday, or the Calling of the Gentiles 9on the second Sunday after Easter); and lastly, the commemoration of the first Church of the Upper Chamber (on the third Sunday after Easter). [The name Etchmiadzin, the seat of the supreme catholicos, means in Armenian ‘the Descent of the Only Begotten.’)

A complete list of the dominical festivals will be found in detail below. At these, the offices and the mass are entirely given over to divine mysteries, to the exclusion of any commemoration of the saints:

                  Nine days for the Theophany

                  Eight days for the Holy Week.

                  Thirty-nine days for the Resurrection.

                  Ten days for the Ascension.

                  Seven days for the Pentecost.

                  Three days for the Transfiguration.

                  Nine days for the Assumption.

                  Seven days for the other festivals of the Blessed Virgin.

                  Seven days for the various festivals of the Holy Cross.

                  Nine days for the various festivals of the Holy Church.

                  Thirty Sundays having no other festival assigned to them.

The above make up a total of one hundred and thirty-six days in the year.

As the days on which the commemoration of saints should not be observed have been enumerated here, it is right to add a few words of explanation on the subject of the duration of penitence or liturgical abstinence (pahq). It is yet another peculiarity of the Armenian rite that on certain days the offices and the mass are set apart exclusively for prayers of penitence and for the commemoration of the dead. This is usually done on the Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, except when dominical festivals fall on those days; besides, on the days in Lent, with the exception of the Saturdays and Sundays; on the five days of the four weeks which precede the great festivals; and lastly, in the weeks in Advent, and in that of the Aradjavor.

Usually, the offices of penitence or of abstinence are accompanied with abstinence from animal food; but this rule admits of some exceptions. An established dispensation is granted on the Wednesdays and Fridays during the forty paschal days, and during the octave of the Theophany. Outside this period, abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays is indispensable, even when dominical festivals fall on them. Abstinence in the Pentecostal week is obligatory, even though it be the dominical festival of the Holy Spirit. The weeks devoted to abstinence in the autumn and in the winter, and those preparatory to the great festival of the Illuminator, are set apart for the commemoration of saints, and in these the rule of abstinence is not disturbed. The same rule applies to the Saturdays and Sundays in Lent, and to the abstinence week of the Theophany.

It has already been stated elsewhere that the days devoted to abstinence number one hundred and sixty. One hundred and seventeen of these days are devoted to liturgical abstinence, in which is included Lent. If we add to this latter number the hundred and thirty-six days set apart for dominical festivals, we get a total of two hundred and fifty-three days; there only remain a hundred and twelve days for the commemorative festivals of saints, which have necessarily to be grouped together. It is very rare to meet, in the Armenian calendar, with days which are set apart for the commemoration of one single saint only.


Chapter 39

The Commemoration of Saints


Without any intention of reviewing the Armenian martyrology, which would take us too far from the scope of our work, we think it would serve a useful purpose to give a short summary of the hagiography of that Church. This study will, besides, help to she additional light on her relations with other Churches, and at the same time give a clear indication of the period when her liturgical institutions were definitely determined.

In giving this summary, it will be necessary to adhere to chronological order, commencing with

Celestial Spirits: Only one festival is devoted to them; the archangels Michael and Gabriel alone are mentioned therein by name.

Old Testament: The saints of the Old Testament are largely represented in the calendar. One festival is dedicated to all the patriarchs. Among those who lived before the flood, the memory of Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Enoch, and Noah is evoked by name. Next are the patriarchs who came after the flood: Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and Eleazar. The period of the Judges is represented by the names of Joshua, Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, and Samuel. The roll is accompanied with the formula, ‘And the other patriarchs’. Job the Righteous is the subject of a special festival.

In the line of prophets are noticed David, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Esdras (Ezra). The twelve minor prophets are grouped together in one combined celebration. The memory of Zechariah, one of the twelve, is accorded an additional festival, on account of the removal of his relics to Armenia. The ascension of the prophet Elijah is only accorded a bare mention.

The martyrs of the Old Testament are honored in like fashion. These are the Three Youths cast into the furnace at Babylon, the priest Eleazar, and the widow Samooni and her seven sons (adherents of the Maccabees.

Contemporaries of Jesus: Among the saints who were contemporaneous with Jesus are mentioned the Innocents of Bethlehem; Joachim and Anna, the parents of Mary; Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist; Joseph, the husband of Mary; and John the Baptist. In honor of these, four festivals are celebrated during the year.

New Testament: As we come to the saints of the New Testament, we find, first of all, the collective festival of the thirteen apostles, among whom St. Paul is included; then there are festivals specially devoted to them, at which two at a time are associated. As regards the seventy disciples, one general festival celebrates their memory. Certain special days are set apart for the commemoration of a few of these by name, on the understanding that they belong to that body. In this category may be placed James and Simon, the brothers of Jesus; the evangelist Mark and Luke; the deacons Stephen and Philip; the disciples Lazarus, Ananias, John Mark, and Barnabas. To these should be added Joseph of Arimathaea, and the centurion Longinus, who were witnesses of the Passion, and the centurion Cornelius.

Among the disciples of St. Paul, the memory is honored of Timothy, Titus, Silas, Sylvanus, Onesimus, with the formula added thereto, ‘And other disciples.’ In this group are also included the learned doctors Hierotheus or Rheteus the Athenian, and Dionysius the Areopagite.

A general festival is also dedicated in the calendar to holy women (Yughaber)  who brought unguents. At the head of these figures Mary Magdalene. Another festival is devoted to the sisters of Lazarus. Connected with this group are the woman martyr Thecla, a disciple of St. Paul; and the virgin Hermonia, daughter of the deacon Philip.

The calendar also makes mention of many martyrs and several confessors of the faith who are revered by the other Churches; all these, however, are anterior to the time when disputes became rife, and caused the disruption of the Universal Church. The names of these saints, which we are about to give, though they may appear dry reading, nevertheless have their use from the point of view of the historical relationship between the Churches. For the sake of lucidity, we will observe the order of the various Churches and of the centuries to which these saints are traced back.

Church of Antioch.  2nd Century: the bishop Ignatius and the virgin Christine, 3rd Century: the aged Barlaam and the bishop Babylas and his disciples. 4th Century: the bishop Meletius; the priests Lucian, Theodoret, Eugene, and Macarius; the deacon Cyril; the precentor Romanus of Emessa; the martyrs Artemius, the Iberian and his companions, Hysichius and Christopher; and the women martyrs Callinice and Aclinea. 5th Century: Simon Stylites.

Church of Cilicia. 3rd Century: the martyrs Callinicus, Diomen, Cosmo, and Damien, Taragus and his companions, and the woman martyr Pelagia.

Church of Mesopotamia. 3rd Century: the bishop Barsame of Edessa. 4th Century: the learned doctors James of Nisibis and Ephraim he Syrian; the abbot Marcellus; the martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, Gurias and his companions, and the virgin Phebronia. 5th Century: the patriarch John.

Church of Jerusalem.  4th Century: the patriarch Cyril, the bishop Judas—Cyril and his mother, Anna, and the anchorite Romanus. 5th Century: the patriarch John.

Church of Cyprus. 5th Century: the bishop Epiphan.

Church of Alexandria.  2nd Cntury: the virgin Eugenia, her parents, and her brothers. 3rd Dentury: the martyr Antony. 4th Century: the patriarchs Peter and Athanasius; the deacon Absalom; the martyrs Varus, Theophilus of Libya, Mennas of Egypt, Mannas of Alexandria and his companions, and the virgin Catherine. 5th Century: the patriarch Cyril. We come next to the abbots Antony and Onyphrius and a group of thirteen anchorites of the Thebaid, who are mentioned by name, with the addition, ‘And others.’

Church of Ethiopia. 5th Century: the martyr Kharitas and his ten thousand companions.

Church of Caesarea. 2nd Century: the martyr Romulus, 3rd Century: the martyrs Polyeuctus, Mercurius, and Mamas. 4th Century: the bishops Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, and the martyrs Gordius, Eudoxius and his companions, and Andreas and his legion.

Church of Sebastia.  3rd Century: the bishop Gregory of Neo-Caesarea. 4th Century: the bishops Blasius and Athenagenas with their companions; the forty martyrs of Sebastia, the forty-five martyrs of Nicopolis, the two Theodores, and the martyrs Severien and Eustratius with their companions.

Church of Lycaonia.  3rd Century: the martyrs Triphon and Philictimon. 4th Century: the martyr Theoditon and his companions, the woman martyr Juliette and her son, and the virgin Marguerite.

Church of Pontus. 2nd Century: the bishop Phocas, 3rd Century: the martyr Acacius.  4th Century: the martyrs Valerius, Candidus, and Aquilas.

Church of Ephesus. 2nd Century: the bishop Polycarp and the martyrs of Smyrna. 3rd Century: the preist Pion, the martyr Themistocles, and the Seven Sleepers. 4th Century: the bishops Nicolas of Myra and Myron of Crete, and the martyr Adoctus.

Church of Constantinople. 4th Century: the patriarch Mitrophanes, Alexander, Paul the Confessor, and Gregory the Theologian; the notaries Marcian and Martyron; the emperors Constantine and Theodosius; the empress Helena; the virgin Euphemia; and the mendicant John. 5th Century: the patriarch John Chrysostom and the virgin Euphrasia.

Church of Thessaly. 4th Century: the bishop Irenaeus of Sirmium, the priest Mocimas, and the martyr Demetrius.

Church of Galatia.  3rd Century: the martyr Eleutherius. 4th Century: the bishop Clement, the priest Basiliscus, the martyrs Plato and Thioditus, the virgin Barbara, and the seven virgin martyrs.

Church of Bythinia,  3rd Century: the martyr Quadratus. 4th Century: the bishops Antimus and Theopompus; the priests Ermolaus and Clericus; the martyrs George, Pantaleon, Anicetus, Photin, Adrian and his wife, Eulalmpius and his sister, Theonas, Indus, Domnas, Bassus and his three companions, Babylas and his disciples, as well as the twenty thousand victims burnt alive in the Church of Nicomedia; and the virgins Julienne and Basilissa.

Church of Rome. 2nd Century: the bishops Pancratius of Taormina and Ireanaeus of Lyons, the martyr Eustathius and his family, and the woman martyr Sophia and her daughters 3rd Century: the patriarch Stephen and his companions, the martyr Callistratus and his companions, and the mendicant Alexian. 4th Century: the pontiff Sylvester and the bishop Januarius.

Church of Africa. 3rd Century: the bishop Cyprian and the virgin Justine.

Church of Persia. 4th Century: the bishops Mark, Melecus, and Acephsimus; the priest Joseph and Buras; the deacons Ayithalas and Senes; the martyrs Sergius, his son and his companions. 5th Century: the deacon Benjamin and the martyrs Ormisde, Sayen, and Jakovik. 6th Century: the priest Anastasius and the martyr Abdulmesih.

We have reserved to the last the roll of saints belonging properly to the Armenian Church, and among these there is one only, the patriarch Gregory, the Illuminator, who has been recognized by the Greek and Latin communions. The Armenian Church has set apart for him three festivals, of which one is authoritatively enjoined.

1st Century.  The bishop Addeus of Edessa, the king Abgar, and the princess Sandookht.

2nd Century. The martyrs Voski and his four companions, and Sookias and his eighteen companions.

4th Century. The virgins Rhiphsime and her thirty-three companions, Gayane and her two companions, Noone and Mane; the patriarchs Aristakes, Vrtanes, Hoosik, and Nerses; the bishops Grigoris, Daniel, and Khad; the king Tiridates; the queen Ashkhen; the princess Khosrovidookht; the anchorites Antony and Kronides; and the martyrs Stephen of Ulnia (Zeytoon) and his companions.

5th Century. The patriarchs Isaac and Joseph; the great learned doctor Mesrop; the bishops Isaac and Thathik; the learned translators Elishe, Moses, and David; the priests Leontius, Mooshegh, Arshen, Samuel, Abraham, and Khoren; the deacons Kadjadj and Abraham. The martyrs Atom and his legion, Vardan and his thousand and thirty-five companions; the anchorites Thathool, Varus, and Thomas; and the woman martyr Suzanne.

6th Century. The seven anchorites Khotatjarak, and the martyrs Grigor-Rajik and Adeodatus (Astwadzatoor-Mapod).

7th Century.  The martyr David of Dwin.

8th Century. The prince Vahan of Golthn, the satraps Sahak and Hamazasb Ardzroonis, and the patriarch Hovhannes III of Otsoon.

9th Century.  The martyr princes Isaac and Joseph.

10th Century.  The learned doctor Grigor of Narek.

12th Century. The patriarch Nerses IV Shnorhali, and the martyr Goharin and his companions.

14th Century. The learned doctor Hovhannes of Vorotn.

15th Century.  The learned doctor Grigor of Tathev.

In closing this list, a rite which is peculiar to the Armenian Church should be mentioned. Three special festivals have been instituted by her for commemorating the holy Councils of Nicaea, of Constantinople, and of Ephesus.

It should be noticed that the saints which belong to other Churches, and who are subjects of veneration in the Armenian Church, lived prior to the middle of the fifth century. They have the claim, therefore, to be really considered as belonging, in common, to the Universal Church. The number of saints admitted to religious veneration after that period is no more than a dozen, and on the sole ground that their erits were universally recognized.








Chapter 40

A General Survey


We have already had occasion to notice briefly, in the course of this work, the subject of Armenian literature. Our intention in recurring to it here is merely to be allowed to draw the reader’s attention to its eminently religious character. If it be true that there is a close correlation between the life of a nation and the literary expression of its ideas, it cannot be denied that the ecclesiastical character which permeates Armenian literature has contributed towards the preservation of the national consciousness.

The political life of this nation has, for many centuries, been extinct. In consequence of the constant emigration of her people, the nation has even been deprived of a self-centered existence; and yet, though scattered and reduced in number, she is still found to up be upholding her name, her language, and her traditions. It may even be added that, at the moment these lines are being written, she shows evident signs of perfect vitality. This astonishing phenomenon of survival can only be explained as being due to the influencing power of her language and her written liturgy – that imponderable power which has resisted the action of time and the vicissitudes of Asiatic upheavals. Sentiment and affection are, in themselves, too transient and precarious to ensure a practical ------------ existence to collective bodies of humanity. Some force that is ever active is an indispensable adjunct for maintaining cohesion between the members of such bodies. Such a force Armenia has drawn from her literature, which has supplied her with a rallying-point when all her political bonds were stripped from her.

There is something providential in the fact that the early dawn of her literature was precisely coincident with the moment when she was being made bereft of her political life. St. Sahak and St. Mesrop appear to have had foreknowledge of the national danger when they created the Armenian alphabet. To these two ecclesiastics, who talents bear witness to their spiritual earnestness, we are indebted for this marvelous invention, which has been so prolific in consequences.

It has given to the Church, in the first place, a language for her rites, and a ritual of her own-conditions which are all indispensable to her existence. It has obtained for the race which it has been instrumental in gathering into the national fold the means of protecting and nourishing, for an indefinite period, its social vitality. It is through it that the individual has been able to retain and improve his identity in a manner so strenuous as to be capable of averting the dangers which have periodically threatened the complete extinction of the nation.

In its development Armenian literature has scarcely ceased to present the same religious character which distinguished its beginnings. Armenian writers are agreed in saying that it has had a golden age and a silver age; but opinions vary as to the exact periods to which these two ages should be assigned. However, it would seem to be possible to localize these periods between the fifth and the twelfth centuries. But it is worthy of notice that, during this long span of eight hundred years, only two laymen, prince Grigor Maguistrus and the physician Mkhitar of Her, can be counted among the fifty known writers. Shapooh Bagratooni, who lived in the ninth century, is also mentioned; but his history, which was written in the common dialect, has not come down to us.

The literature is, for the most part, composed of handbooks for the Church, such as the translation of the Bible and the rituals, which are written in the purest classical language, in contradistinction to what is seen elsewhere, when the sacred books give tokens of the decadence of the language. Alongside of this class of work, the collection of the Church Fathers may be mentioned. Nearly all these are models of a lofty style, and they include the translations of the entire works of Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lugdunum, Gregory of Neo=Caesarea, Athanasius of Alexandria, Epiphanius ofo Cyprus, Eusebius of Caesarea, Proclus of Constantinople, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nnazianzen, Severien of Emessa, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Ephraim the Syrian. Members of the clergy also translated at the time the works of the philosophers –Aristotle, Plato, Dionysius, Justinus, Porphyry, Philo, Ariistides, Pisides. Thus the Church contributed by her works not only to the building up of the nation, but also to its general instruction.

The historical books, of which there are a large number, are also the outcome of the learning ofo ecclesiastics, such as Moses of Khoren, Lazarus of oPharpi, the vardapet Elisha, Korium Skancheli, Hovhannes the catholicos, Stephanos Orbelian, Ghevond vardepet, Stephanos Asoghik, and many others whose names it would be wearisome to enumerate. There were, likewise, the works of Agathangelos, of Zenob, and of Faustus of Byzantium, which are presumed to be translations. It will be seen, from these examples, that the best period of Armenian literature is exclusively taken up with works by the clergy.

As we have shown in the historical portion of this work, the period between the twelfth and the seventeenth centuries was one of social decadence for the Armenian nation. During this span of time its literature likewise denotes the decay of intellectuality. The few writings which have come down to us from this period are also from the pen of the clergy. To the latter belongs, besides, the merit of not disregarding their duty towards the education of the people. This task they accomplished in so far as circumstances enabled them, for it is well known that they had to contend at times against obstacles which appeared well-nigh insurmountable. The physician Amir Tolvath and the official Yeremia Keomurtjian, who belonged to this same period, must be reckoned among the few lay writers.

In spite of the inferior quality of all the writings of this time, they, nevertheless, are not without interest, in so far that they give us an historical aspect of the customs and tendency of their time, which they faithfully reflect. They are, moreover, a source of valuable information regardin the events of a period of which even now we know but little.

It is to the clergy, who, by their assiduous care, multiplied manuscript copies, that we must also assign the credit of having preserved the works of former ages. Those which we possess trace their origin almost entirely to this period of decadence; for the more ancient manuscripts are very few in number.


Chapter 41

The Latest signs


Beginning with the eighteenth century, literature assumed the phase of revival; but the clergy still held the foremost place in the intellectual movement, and all progress, as well as every social amelioration, sprang from their initiative. Vardan, Kolod, and Nalian in the East, Mkhitar and Khachatoor in the West, displayed the most praiseworthy effforts, not only towards the resuscitation of the national literature, but also towards the spread of education among the people, and of instruction among the mass of the clergy. The publication of books at that time increased in an unexpected manner, thanks to the use of printing, which developed more and more in the East. The people were at length attracted to share in the benefits of education; and a host of writers from all ranks of society have made themselves illustrious. What was before unheard of now happened: the laity began to devote themselves to acquiring instruction, which, till now, had been the exclusive monopoly of the ecclesiastics. In that society, which was being regenerated, there arose a special class of teachers, to whom was assigned the stately title of Patweli (honorable). Since then nothing has abated that advance towards progress; the uplifting of intellectuality has been realized in a manner that has been both steady and uninterrupted, and in keeping with the general tendency of the age. As we are here concerned with religious literature alone, we should add that if works of this character are numerous, they are far, indeed, from being as satisfactory as might be wished. To Father Michael Chamchian, of the Mkhitarists of Venice, is due the credit of reviving the study of hisoty; but we are obliged to admit that his national history is unsatisfactory from the point of view of the critical spirit and of the relations existing between that history and general history. The examination of the sources of national history is still very incompmlete. The history of the Church herself suffers from omissions of the same nature which are also due to defects connected with the sources. On the other hand, the Mkhitarists of Venice and of Vienna, to whom it would not be possible to deny the credit of having effectively contributed to the development of letters, have not been able to escape from that spirit of particularism which has estranged them from the Armenian Church. The seminaries of Etchmiadzin and of Armash have recently undertaken critical works, in order to declare the character of this Church in her true and original light, which Catholic authors have endeavored to subvert to the extent of making her unrecognizable.

The facilities of communication with modern Europe have thrown Armenians of these latter days into the current of those modern ideas whereby the Latin races of Europe have chiefly been influenced. This circumstance has given occasion for the production of anti-religious opinions and ideas, which find expression in pamphlets directed against the Church. The latter, compelled to take up her own self-defense, has done so by entering upon a new path of an apologia. From this has resulted a greater effort towards raising the intellectual standard of the clergy, on whom devolves the duty of combating these audacious tendencies. We may well believe, however, that these measures are superfluous, for the Armenian Church rests on too firm a foundation, and her spirit of tolerance is too well known to engender fear from the assaults of an irreligious tendency, which she has in no way provoked.. Those among the Armenians who think they are serving the cause of liberty by their extreme notions seem to ignore the fact that it is precisely that liberty they are fighting for which is also part and parcel of the spirit and the doctrine of their  Church. The forget that anti-religious and anti-clerical tendencies only originate in countries where Roman Catholicism is supreme—tendencies which have been brought into being by its thoughtless excesses of doctrine. Generally speaking, Protestant countries are free from such excesses, doubtless on account of the liberalism which is inculcated by the dominant religion. The Anglo-Saxons, who may be regarded as pioneers in the realm of liberty, are at the same time genuinely devoted to the faith.

The account we have given of our doctrine gives us the right to assert that, in the matter of liberalism and religious tolerance, the Armenian Church yields to no other Church, if at times she is not even superior to them. Nothing is easier for an Armenian writer than to defend his own Church in particular, and religion in general, against the attacks of what is called the modern spirit. To do this, it is enough for him to make know his own principles and his doctrine, eliminating from them all that is of foreign import, adhering strictly to the rules l aid down by the Church’s earl divines, upholding in everything the true sense of tradition, and finally, maintaining that fruitful and legitimate co-operation between the clergy and the laity which is of the essence of her spirit and her institutions. The conviction will then of itself grow, that Christianity, which has brought the light of liberty into the world, can in no sense be arrayed against the progress of human reason.