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The Church

His Beatitude Nerses Petros XIX

Biography of
Abraham Petros I Ardzivian

Rebuilder of the Armenian Catholic patriarchate

Abraham Ardzivian was one of the Armenian clergymen who belonged to the group of Armenian Catholic clergymen, before an Armenian Catholic church existed.

Abraham Ardzivian was born at Aintap. After being the student of the Catholic preacher, Melkon Tazbazian, he started to serve the Catholicos Pierre II of Sis, who raised him to the degree of a priest, then he ordained him bishop of Aleppo in 1710. After that, Ardzivian was persecuted, imprisoned and exiled, in different Ottoman prisons.

In 1714, the Armenian Catholics gathered in Constantinople and decided to found an independent Armenian Catholic church and they appointed the Bishop Melkon Tazbazian first Patriarch.

The police arrested the congregation, the two bishops Tazbazian and Ardzivian were sentenced to the galleys, where Tazbazian died after a year.

After being liberated and being imprisoned once again in the Rouad island (1719-21), he left the prison on condition that he went away from Aleppo forever. He took refuge in Kreim (Ghosta, Keserwan, Lebanon), where the Mouradian brothers of Aleppo had bought an estate to found a convent and to live a religious life.

Staying 17 years in Kreim, Ardzivian, in the period of his voluntary exile, established St-Antoine's Armenian Monks order, he built the convent church, managing at the same time the affairs concerning his eparchy of Aleppo through his vicar Hagop Hovsepian.

In 1738, the Armenian Catholics of Aleppo got a church and brought a licence to return Ardzivian to Aleppo (1739). They decided to have an independent patriarchate with their bishop, who arriving to Aleppo, by the help of Greek Catholic bishops, ordained bishop his vicar Hagop and two other clergymen. They, in their turn, consecrated him patriarch on November 26, 1740.

To ratify the patriarchal election, Ardzivian went to Rome, to present himself to Pope Benoit XIV. The meeting of Cardinals in November 26, 1742 ratified Ardzivian's patriarchate and on December 8, the Pope Benoit XIV granted him the Pallium.

The patriarchate founded by Ardzivian, being ratified according to the clerical rule and illegal according to the Ottoman rule, was the object of permanent governmental pursuits. In spite of European embassies interventions, in the aim of getting a sovereignty, Ardzivian was obliged to resign in order to go to Constantinople, so he returned from Rome to the convent of Kreim.

It was the beginning of an epic of 250 years.

Being expelled somewhere on Lebanon mountains, accompanying him 6 bishops and 22 St-Antoine's Armenian Monks only, he was going to do his best to accomplish his mission.

Tired of pursuits and Ottoman prisons, he went to have a rest near to his Master, after appointing the bishop Hagop Hovsepian his successor.

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