Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Last updated
Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Classification Oriental Orthodox
Language Armenian
Headquarters Old City of Jerusalem
Territory Israel, Palestinian Authority, and Jordan
FounderThe Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognitionby Armenian Apostolic Church as their autonomous church
Official website
Harootiun Vehabedian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, 1900 (Library of Congress). Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem 1900.jpg
Harootiun Vehabedian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, 1900 (Library of Congress).
The Street of Armenian Patriarchate Ierusalim3.jpg
The Street of Armenian Patriarchate
Interior of St. James Church Ierusalim4.jpg
Interior of St. James Church

The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem also known as the Armenian Patriarchate of Saints James (Armenian : Առաքելական Աթոռ Սրբոց Յակովբեանց ՅերուսաղեմAṙak’yelakan At’voṙ Srboc’ Yakovbeanc’ Yerusaġem, literally "Apostolic See of Saint James in Jerusalem") is located in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The Armenian Apostolic Church is officially recognised under Israel's confessional system, for the self-regulation of status issues, such as marriage and divorce.


Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, served the Armenian Church as the Grand Sacristan and the Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchate, when he was elected as the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem on January 24, 2013. Manougian succeeded Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, who died on October 12, 2012 after serving 22 years in the office. The Patriarch, along with a Synod of seven clergymen elected by the St. James Brotherhood, oversees the Patriarchate's operations.

During World War I, survivors of the Armenian Genocide received shelter in the Armenian Convent in Jerusalem. The Armenian population of Jerusalem reached at that time 25,000 people. But political and economic instability in the region have reduced the Armenian population. Most Armenians in Jerusalem live in and around the Patriarchate at the St. James Monastery, which occupies most of the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. Apart from Jerusalem, there are Armenian Communities in Jaffa, Haifa and Nazareth, and in the Palestinian Territories.

The Jerusalem Armenian community uses the Old Julian calendar, unlike the rest of the Armenian Church which use the Gregorian calendar. [1]


In 638, after Saint Sophronius died and the Greeks did not appoint another bishop for Jerusalem, the Armenian Apostolic Church began appointing its own bishops for Jerusalem. The office has continued, with some interruptions, down to this day. The Bishops were later elevated in stature and became Patriarchs. The Armenian Patriarch is independent and self-governing. The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem recognizes the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin as having pre-eminent supremacy in all spiritual matters.

After the end of the Crusader period, the Armenian Patriarchs sought to establish good relations with the Muslim rulers. The Armenian Patriarch Sarkis I (1281–1313) met the Mamluk governor in Egypt and subsequently returned to his community in Jerusalem, hoping to usher in a period of peace for his people after the Crusades. In the 1340s the Armenians were permitted to build a wall around their quarter. The Mamluk government also engraved a protective declaration in Arabic on the western entrance to the quarter.

The Armenian quarter in this period kept creating "facts on the ground" by the constant small expansions and consolidations. In the 1380s Patriarch Krikor IV built a priests' dining room across from the St. James Cathedral. Around 1415 the olive grove near the Garden of Gethsemane was purchased. In 1439, Armenians were removed from the Golgotha chapel, but the Patriarch Mardiros I (1412–1450) purchased the “opposite area” and named it second Golgotha. This remains in the Patriarch's possession to this day.

At times, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem became politicized by struggles within the Armenian Church. The Armenian Patriarchate, due to its proximity to the Holy places and isolation from the main Armenian population, played an important role in the schism that began to affect the Armenian leaderships in Constantinople and Etchmiadzin (seat of the Armenian church). Significantly Bishop Eghiazar assumed the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and in 1644 declared himself for a short period of time as "Catholicos" ("Leader") of all the Armenian church.

In the 17th century, the Armenians were allowed after much pleading to enlarge the St. James Monastery. At the same time the Armenian Patriarch Hovhannes VII purchased a large parcel of land south of the St. James Cathedral, called “Cham Tagh”. By 1752 the Patriarchate was busy renovating the entire quarter, and in 1828 further renovations took place after an earthquake. In 1850 the seminary complex at the south end of the St. James convent was completed.

In 1833, the Armenians established the city's first printing press, and opened a theological seminary in 1843. In 1866, the Armenians had inaugurated the first photographic studio and their first newspaper in Jerusalem. In 1908, the Armenian community built two large buildings on the north-western side of the Old City, along Jaffa Street.

As the Armenian diaspora spread throughout Europe and America, wealthy Armenians donated generously for the prosperity and continuity of the Patriarchate. The oil magnate and philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian came to endow the Gulbenkian Library in the Armenian quarter that was named in gratitude in his name, today holding one of the great collection of ancient Armenian manuscripts including endless copies of the various Firmens, Ottoman edicts that granted the quarter protection and rights under Muslim rule.

By the 1920s, most of the Armenian quarter had “European style gable roofs” as opposed to the domes preferred in the Muslim quarter. In 1922 Armenians made up 8% of Jerusalem's Christians, bringing their total number to about 2,480 people. It is also noted that non-Armenians found comfort in the protection of the walled Armenian "compound". In the 1930s and 1940s, the Armenian quarter saw further renovations.

The end of World War II brought also the division of Mandate Palestine and the establishment in 1948 of Israel. The numbers of Armenians residing at the time in the Holy Land totaled about 8,000. The Armenians who lived in Haifa and Jaffa, which became part of Israel, got the Israeli citizenship; whereas the huge majority of Palestinian Armenians lived in the Armenian Quarter, and the Armenian Patriarchate and its properties came under Jordanian rule.

The Armenian community was further reduced after the 1967 Six-Day War and occupation, with many emigrating to Jordan and some to Europe and the United States, leaving around 2,000-3,000 in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Patriarchate Complex

The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the home of the Brotherhood of St. James, a monastic order of the Armenian Apostolic Church with about 60 members worldwide. Within the compound of the Patriarchate, also lie the private residences of Armenian families.

This residential enclave was, at one time, the largest single compound that housed Armenians, and represented the demographic and spiritual core of Armenian presence in the Holy Land.

The compound of the Patriarchate, which enforces a strict curfew of 10 p.m. when the massive doors are closed and locked until the early morning, also houses the administrative offices and residences of the Patriarch and the clergy. It also comprises:

Other branches of the Patriarchate located within the compound include:

Other facilities

Printing press and media

The Patriarchate also runs a printing press, the first to be established in Jerusalem, which has now become capable of undertaking commercial color printing. This was the first facility within the Armenian compound to adopt the concept of computerization on a dedicated scale.

The official organ of the Patriarchate is the long-running periodical Sion (in Armenian Սիոն) named after the Armenian name of Mount Zion. The students in the seminary also publish their own official organ Hay Yerusaghem (in Armenian Հայ Երուսաղէմ meaning the Armenian Jerusalem)

Medical services / Clinic

Medical services against a symbolic fee are provided at a clinic donated by the Jinishian Medical Fund.

Free meals to the aged and invalid pensioners and indigent members of the community are also provided.


The Patriarchate enjoys a semi-diplomatic status and is one of the three major guardians of the Christian Holy Places in the Holy Land (the other two are the Orthodox and Latin Patriarchates). Among these sites under joint control of the Armenian Patriarchate and other churches, chapels and holy places are:

The Armenian Patriarchate also has jurisdiction over the Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) communities in Palestine, Israel and Jordan. The Armenian churches with full jurisdiction are:

See also

Related Research Articles

Patriarch ecclesiastical title

The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church, and the Church of the East are termed patriarchs.

Armenian Apostolic Church National church of Armenia

The Armenian Apostolic Church is the national church of the Armenian people. Part of Oriental Orthodoxy, it is one of the most ancient Christian institutions. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion under the rule of King Tiridates III in the early 4th century. According to tradition, the church originated in the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus of Edessa in the 1st century.

Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem patriarchate

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the Catholic episcopal see of Jerusalem, officially seated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was originally established in 1099 with the Kingdom of Jerusalem encompassing the newly territories in the Holy Land conquered by the First Crusade. From 1374-1847 it was a titular see, with the Patriarchs of Jerusalem being based at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. A resident Latin Patriarch was re-established in 1847 by Pius IX.

Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, officially called simply the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, is an autocephalous Church within the wider communion of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It is headed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the incumbent being Theophilos III since 2005. Christians believe that it was in Jerusalem that the Church was established on the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus Christ and that the Gospel of Christ spread from Jerusalem. The Church celebrates its liturgy in the Byzantine Rite, whose original language is Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament, and follows its own calendar of feasts, preserving the Julian calendar. It is also often called "Σιωνίτις Εκκλησία".

Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople

The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, also known as Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, is today head of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, one of the smallest Patriarchates of the Oriental Orthodox Churches but one that has exerted a very significant political role and today still exercises a spiritual authority.

Cathedral of Saint James, Jerusalem

The Cathedral of Saint James is a 12th-century Armenian church in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, near the quarter's entry Zion Gate. The cathedral is dedicated to two Christian saints: James, son of Zebedee and James the brother of Jesus. It is located near the Church of the Holy Archangels.

Catholic Church in Israel

The Catholic Church in Israel is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, in full communion with the Holy See in Rome.

Khajag Barsamian is an Armenian religious figure. He was the Primate of Diocese of Armenian Church of America (Eastern) and is the president of the Fund for Armenian Relief. He was the longest serving Diocesan Primate, leading the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) from 1990 to 2018.

Patriarch Torkom Manoogian was the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem serving the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He was the 96th in a succession of Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem, succeeding Patriarch Yeghishe Derderian (1960–1990).

Armenia–Israel relations Diplomatic relations between Armenia and the State of Israel

Armenia–Israel relations are the bilateral relationship between Armenia and Israel. From 1993 to 2007, Armenia was served by the Embassy of Israel in Georgia. In 1996, Tsolak Momjian was appointed the honorary consul of Armenia in Jerusalem. Eleven years later, the residence of the Embassy of Israel in Armenia was moved to Jerusalem. In October 2010, Shmuel Meirom was appointed the Israeli ambassador to Armenia. Armen Melkonian was appointed the Armenian ambassador to Israel in 2012, with a residence in Cairo. In October of that year, Melkonian presented his credentials to Israeli President Shimon Peres. On the 21st of September 2019 Armenia announced that it would be opening an embassy in Israel.

Armenians in Jordan

Armenians in Jordan are ethnic Armenians living within the current Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. There are an estimated 3,000 Armenians living in the country today with an estimated 2,500 of them being members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and predominantly speak Western Armenian dialect. Armenians make up the biggest majority of non-Arab Christians in the country.

Armenians in Israel

Armenians in Israel are Armenians living in Israel, some of whom hold Israeli citizenship.

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, Yerevan Cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church

The Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, also known as the Yerevan Cathedral is the largest cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is located in the Kentron District of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and is one of the largest religious buildings in the South Caucasus along with the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. Adjacent to the General Andranik metro station, it is visible from many corners of Yerevan.

Russian Orthodox Church in Israel

Russian Orthodox properties in Israel refers to real-estate owned by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Israel.

Patriarch Yeghishe Derderian was Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem serving the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem from 1960 to 1990.

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Governing body of the Armenian Apostolic Church

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, is the governing body of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is headquartered around Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), Armenia and is the seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians, the head of the church.

Patriarch Nourhan Manougian is the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem serving the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He is the 97th in the succession of Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem, succeeding Patriarch Torkom Manoogian, who served for 22 years (1990–2012). Manougian was elected as Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem on 24 January 2013.

Armenian Quarter One of the four quarters of the Old City in Jerusalem.

The Armenian Quarter is one of the four quarters of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. Located in the southwestern corner of the Old City, it can be accessed through the Zion Gate and Jaffa Gate. It occupies an area of 0.126 km², which is 14% of the Old City's total. In 2007, it had a population of 2,424. In both criteria, it is comparable to the Jewish Quarter. The Armenian Quarter is separated from the Christian Quarter by David Street and from the Jewish Quarter by Habad Street.

Catholic dioceses in the Holy Land and Cyprus is a multi-rite, international episcopate in Israel and Cyprus.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2017-03-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. S. N. Manoogian, The Calouste Gulbenkian Library, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, 1925-1990 an Historical Portrait of a Monastic and Lay Community Intellectual Resource Center, Doctoral Dissertation University of California 2013
  3. "Sts. Tarkmanchatz Armenian School of Jerusalem".


Coordinates: 31°46′28″N35°13′43″E / 31.7744°N 35.2287°E / 31.7744; 35.2287