“Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice-300” international conference kicks off

On October 24, the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian Studies and Social Sciences Section of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA), Yerevan State University, the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts-Matenadaran and the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice launched the two-day international conference entitled “Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice-300” in the sessions hall of the presidency of the NAS RA. The conference is part of the events dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Mekhitarist Congregation on St. Lazarus Island and is being held with the support of the State Committee on Science of the RA Ministry of Education and Science.

In his opening remarks, President of the NAS RA Radik Martirosyan stated that the conference is of great academic importance since it is organized by the major Armenological institutions of Armenia and the Diaspora. “The Mekhitarist Congregation is an academic and cultural institution that has not only transmitted the history and values of the Armenian people to the generations, but has also enriched and enhanced them. This conference serves as a wonderful opportunity to present, popularize and examine the heritage and current activities of the Mekhitarists,” Martirosyan said. Radik Martirosyan expressed gratitude to Pontifical Delegate of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice, Archbishop Levon Zekiyan for his active collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences.

Greeting the attendees, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan particularly said the following: “On September 8, 2017, the Mekhitarist Congregation on St. Lazarus Island launched several events dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Mekhitarist Congregation on St. Lazarus Island. Not only Armenia and Venice, but also hundreds of Armenian communities of the Diaspora are celebrating the glorious anniversary throughout the year, presenting the major achievements of the Mekhitarist to the world and all mankind. Every time I set foot on St. Lazarus Island, I feel grateful and feel admiration because 300 years ago, the Armenians managed to turn that small island into a major spiritual center and a center for education and culture that needs to be completely studied today.” The Minister emphasized that the Mekhitarists are not only intelligent, but have also turned the entire territory of the Mekhitarist Congregation into a global architectural monument. “The congregates, under the direction of Abbot Mekhitar, created a spiritual center, preserving first and foremost Christian values and transmitting them to the generations. The Fathers of the Mekhitarist Congregation also established a center for Armenian studies where they helped enhance the translation of books, the study of dictionaries, cartography and ethnography and studied Western Armenian. Thus, the Mekhitarists viewed education as the source of all vital goods,” Minister Hranush Hakobyan stated. She also attached importance to the fact that many foreign intellectuals and geniuses established themselves in the Mekhitarist Congregation, wrote the most serious works and expressed their admiration of Armenian culture.

In his welcoming remarks, Pontifical Delegate of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Catholic Church in Turkey, Archbishop Levon Zekiyan emphasized that this conference is not only a sign of respect, but also a deep friendship that has been existing between the Mekhitarist Congregation and Armenia’s academic institutions for many years.

In his welcoming remarks, academician-secretary of the Armenian Studies and Social Sciences Section of the NAS RA Yuri Suvaryan valued the activities of the Mekhitarists and stated that, by enhancing all the areas of Armenian studies, the Mekhitarists have been carrying out the sacred mission of preserving the Armenian identity.

Rector of Yerevan State University Aram Simonyan stated that the Mekhitarist Congregation can serve as a standard for any civilized nation and country. “This institution was established far away from the Homeland and by a group of devoted sons of the Armenian nation who were in a dire situation. They only had infinite faith in the talent and bright future of their nation. There is no sphere in which the Mekhitarists haven’t made their weighty contributions. Throughout the past 300 years, the Congregation has accumulated a tremendous amount of works that still need to be closely examined. I fully hope that Ghevond Alishan’s book “Artsakh” is published soon. It is of great political significance. I am certain that this international conference will turn a new page over in the studies on the heritage of the Mekhitarists.”

Among other speakers were Archbishop Levon Zekiyan (“Mekhitar as a Symbol and Challenge: A Pioneer of Armenian Spirituality and Culture, Through the All-Christian and Universal Realm”), Director of the Institute of History of the NAS RA Ashot Melkonyan (“The Contributions of Ghukas Injijian to the Studies on the Historiographical Issues of Armenia”), RA Deputy Minister of Diaspora Serzh Srapionyan (“The Mekhitarists According to Michael Nalbandian) and Head of the Institute of Literature of the NAS RA Vardan Devrikyan (“The Principles of the Mekhitarists for Periodization of the History of Medieval Armenian Literature”).

The conference continued with panel sessions entitled “The Activities of the Mekhitarists in the Field of Historiography”, “The Contributions of the Mekhitarists to Folklore” and “Arts and Culture in the Activities of Mekhitarists.

Scroll Up