- Armenian Literature, History, Religion
Mkrtich Khrimyan

Mkrtich Khrimyan


1820 - 1907

Mkrtich Khrimyan (alternate spelling: Mugurditch Chrimian , Mgrdich Khrimyan) was immortalized when he was proclaimed “Hayrik” (Father),” by his people. He was glorified as an advocate for justice and it is his image that has been painted by numerous artists.

Khrimyan was born in 1820, on April 4 (16) in Van, he received his primary education in the place of his birth; in Lim and Ktuts deserts he studied Grabar (old Armenian of Vth century) and Armenology. At that period the young man’s plans were to research the land of Armenia, her history and present state, to fight against darkness and backwardness, to work for enlightenment and defend its principles and finally to fight against injustice. To realize his goals, he chose three ways: writing, printing and speech. Khrimyan became an orator at a very early age. His speech was full of color and emotion. However beautiful his words, it was the truth of life that he expressed that made his oratory so passionate and effective. Khrimyan completely dedicated himself to his native land; he focused completely upon his nation.

In 1855 Khrimyan launched “Artsui Vaspurakan”, the first periodical publication in Armenia. Garegin Shrvandztyants and Arsen Tokhmakhyan also worked on this periodical together with other pupils of a school founded by Khrimyan. Two years later Khrimyan became the head of Taron, the dean of Saint Karapet seminary.

In 1869 Khrimyan was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. Five years later he resigned this position and began his struggle against darkness and injustice. Carrying out an ambitious plan to enlighten his people, Khrimyan was thwarted in his efforts by the antagonism of fellow clergy who presented numerous obstacles to his work.

In 1876, on occasion of fire and robbery of Van, Khrimyan wrote “Vangoyzh”, an inspirational appeal for efficient measures instead of complaining of losses and difficulties., When the Russo-Turkish war broke out, he wrote “Haygoyzh”. These two works were enough to proclaim him “Khorenatsi of the 19th century.”* He also wrote “Heavenly Land”, “A Grandfather and a Grandson” and others. Most of Khrimyan’s work greatly influenced the character and social thought of the people of his time.

* Movses Khorenatsi (Moses of Khorene), legendary Armenian historian, often called the “father of Armenian history”.

In 1876 Khrimyan published “His Time and Counsel” in which he expressed his thoughts and views of the constitution of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1878 Khrimyan headed the delegation to represent the will of Armenian people at the Berlin Conference. Upon his return he stated in an eloquent speech entitled, “The Paper Ladle,” that the hopes of the Armenian people for self-determination were ignored by the European community of nations.

In 1879 Khrimyan sent his aid to the starving population of Van and founded an orphanage. However the Turkish authorities did not appreciate his activities and in 1885 Khrimyan Hayrik was recalled to Constantinople and to be later sent to Jerusalem, which, in fact, was an exile. But in the eyes of native people the personality of Khrimyan rose instantly; therefore in 1892 Khrimyan Hayrik was unanimously elected Catholicos of All Armenians.

In 1903 by the special order of Russian Tsar all the Armenian schools were closed in South Caucasus and Armenian church property confiscated. As Catholicos, Khrimyan waged an heroic struggle against this decision which came to success in 1905. The Tsar published a decree reopening the national schools of Armenia and returning church properties.

In 1907 Catholicos Khrimyan died leaving a grieving nation. Khrimyan’s life was an outstanding and extraordinary example of a leader’s dynamic accomplishment in drawing his people closer and closer to their native land and sense of nationhood, both physically and spiritually.

In addition to the works already mentioned, Khrimyan produced works on religious themes. “Last Week and the Speech of Cross,” and “Margaret from Regal Heaven” are articles of historical nature. Among other collections, his poems appear in “Sound of Sunset.”



Preliminary translation by: Mary Arakelyan
Edited by: Ruth Bedevian

See also:

Loving Father to all Generations by Ruth Bedevian
Khrimian Hairig's biography (in Armenian)
Khrimian Hairig's Poems (translated by Alice Stone Blackwell ) in in Russian
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