Cilicia of the Armenians, Patriarchate of

views updated


The Catholic patriarchate of the Armenian Catholic Church, based in Beirut, Lebanon, established 1742 by Pope Benedict XIV with jurisdiction over Armenian Eastern Catholics in the then Ottoman Empire. The patriarchate derives from the episcopacy of St. gregory the illuminator (315).

Cilicia, with its Cilician Gates, has long been a link between Asia Minor and Syria. It was under the hittites, the Persians (c. 500 b.c.), alexander the great (333 b.c.), and Rome (103 b.c.), who rid its coast of pirates (62 b.c.) and made it part of the Diocese of the East (a.d.297). Invaded by Arabs from 639 and retaken by the Byzantine Nicephorus II Phocas (965), it became a principality under Armenians who had fled the seljuk Turks (1080). It was an ally of the Latin crusaders and became a kingdom (1199), which went to the Lusignans of cyprus (1342) and then fell to the Mamelukes (1375). By 1522 Cilicia was part of the Ottoman Empire.

St. paul was born in Tarsus, a capital of Cilicia and one of nine Cilician sees represented at the Council of Nicaea I (325). To the original two ecclesiastical provinces of Cilicia under the Patriarchate of antioch, Tarsus with five suffragans and Anazarbus with nine suffragans, Seleucia with 23 suffragans was added in Constantine's time. mopsuestia also was an important city of Cilicia. Some 15 of the ancient sees of Cilicia still exist as titular sees. Remains of basilicas have been discovered in the region, which had early Christian martyrs.

In the aftermath of the Ecumenical Council of chalcedon, Cilicia was divided into jacobites and melkites, and the Arab conquest caused more harm to the Church there. Pope Gregory VII corresponded with the Armenian catholicos Gregory II before the Crusades. leo ii's coronation as king of Lesser Armenia by a papal legate (1199) restored unity with Rome until 1375. Latin crusaders had established Latin sees in Cilicia; and a Dominican organization worked for union with Rome from 1328 but had to be abandoned. Sis, capital of Cilicia to 1375, had a catholicos (12931441), who moved to Echmiadzin. Echmiadzin's position as head of the Armenian National Church, which it still obtains, was eventually recognized by the Catholicos of Sis, who was acknowledged by Echmiadzin as a subordinate "patriarch." This Armenian Catholicos-Patriarch of Sis, who presided over 15 dioceses and 285,000 souls in 1914, fled Turkey (1921) by moving to Alep and Lebanon (1928). Several councils in Sis (1251, 1307, 1342) and Adana (1316) dealt with the matter of recognizing the primacy of Rome. Sis was also the seat of a Jacobite bishop and, from 1292 to 1387, of the Jacobite patriarch.

In 1740 Abraham (Peter) Ardzivean, Catholic bishop of Alep, was elected Catholicos-Patriarch of Sis and in 1742 received the pallium in Rome; but he had to reside in Lebanon. The primatial archbishopric for Armenian Catholics established in Istanbul (1830) was united with the Patriarchate of Cilicia (1867) following a jurisdictional dispute over six new sees created in Turkey (1850), and the patriarch moved to Istanbul (18671928). Reorganization of the patriarchate (1928) after the persecution following World War I established the patriarch in Beirut.

Bibliography: r. roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, (6th ed. Rome 1999).

[j. a. devenny/eds.]