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The Eastern Catholic Churches / The Armenian Catholic Church

The Armenian Catholic Church

Number of faithfulapproximately 760,000
Title of First HierarchPatriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians
See of the First HierarchBeirut (Lebanon)
Current incumbentPatriarch Raphael Bedros XXI. (Minassian), born 1946, in office since 2021
Bishops and dioceses18 bishops; 15 dioceses and 3 exarchates
Liturgical languageOld Armenian
Presence in Austriaapprox. 500 believers; 1 congregation, 4 priests
Presence in Germanyapprox. 200 faithful; 1 community

The Armenian Catholic Church emerged after several failed unification attempts at the time of the crusades (Kingdom of Cilicia, 1198-1375) and by the Council of Florence (decree on union with the Armenians, 1439) around 1740, when four Armenian bishops entered a union with Rome. The elected “uniate,” Patriarch of Cilicia, Bishop Abraham (Ardzivian), was confirmed in 1742 by Pope Benedict XIV. Sis was originally intended as the seat of the patriarchate, which was not permitted by the Ottoman rulers. Hence, since 1750, the Bzommar Monastery near Beirut in Lebanon has been the seat of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. Just like the Orthodox Armenians, the Catholic Armenians also suffered from the persecutions during the final phase of the Ottoman Empire and in the early Turkish state. In 1870, several Armenian Catholic priests and bishops converted back to the Armenian Apostolic Church due to the decisions of the First Vatican Council. The Catholic Mechitharist order, which was founded in 1701 by Mechitar of Sebaste in Constantinople, plays an important role in preserving the cultural and ecclesiastical heritage of the Armenians. Through their academic activities, the Mechitharists developed into a link between orthodox and catholic Armenians in the 19th century. The most important monasteries of the order are in Venice (San Lazzaro) and Vienna. The largest communities in terms of numbers of Catholic Armenians are to be found today in Beirut (Lebanon) and Aleppo (Syria).


  • J. Whooley, The Armenian Catholic Church in the Middle East, in: A. O’Mahony / J. Flannery (ed.), The Catholic Church in the Contemporary Middle East, London 2010, 153-183.
  • W. Hage, Die Armenisch-Katholische Kirche, in: ders., Das orientalische Christentum, Stuttgart 2007, 424-435.
  • F. Heyer (ed.), Die Kirche Armeniens, Stuttgart 1978, 159-193.