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
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