THE ARMENIAN MONASTERY AND ACADEMY
VIENNA - AUSTRIA
The history of Armenians in Austria
dates back to the time of Vienna's liberation from the turkish siege at the end
of the 17th century, when several Armenian merchants found a new market in the
In 1775 Maria
Theresia gave the official permission to the Mechitarists congregation of the
Armenian Catholic Church to settle in the Habsburg empire. The Mekhitarian
congregation in Vienna contributed to the spread of Armenian culture in central
Europe through its printing, its library and its college for Armenian boys.
The very active,
well organized Armenians of the ottoman province of Suczawa (Bukowina, today a
part of the Ukraine) were annexed by the Austrian empire and Armenians
automatically became citizens of the empire.
In the beginning
19th century the Austrian Armenians enjoyed officially recognized status as
autonomous religious community. The Armenian community in Vienna grew
constantly, so that already in 1896 the first efforts were made to found an
Armenian-Apostolic community. In 1912 a small chapel was established in Vienna.
The First World War and its aftermath transformed the Austrian Armenian
community: the area of the Bukowina Armenians was lost during the war, but a
wave of immigrants came to Austria as a result of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
appointment of the first Armenian pastor in Vienna in the 1920s, the number of
Armenians in Austria continued to grow, also boosted by refugees from Lebanon,
Syria, Iraq, Iran, as well as migrant Armenian workers from turkey and more
recently from the Republic of Armenia.
In 1968, the Surp
Hripsime Armenian Apostolic Church of Vienna was consecrated, giving a new
impetus to the ever growing Armenian community in Austria. There is also a
Saturday Armenian School named Hovhannes Shiraz.
established diplomatic relations in 1996. Armenia has an embassy in Vienna and
Austria is represented in Armenia through its embassy in Moscow (Russia).
Mechitarist Order in Vienna (1810-Present)
Mechitaristenkirche: Mechitarist Armenian Catholic Church in Vienna, Austria.
monastic headquarters of the Mekhitarist Order founded by Mekhitar da
Pietro(1676-1749), an Armenian Catholic monk is on the island of St. Lazarus in
Venice (San Lazzaro Monastero Armeno in Italian), the Mechitarists have kept an
important presence in Vienna since 1810.
Even much before,
actually in 1775, Maria Theresia had already given the official permission to
the Mechitarists congregation of the Armenian Catholic Church to settle in the
Habsburg empire and they had established in Trieste.
By 1810, they
established a new monastic center in Vienna using a Franciscan church. When in
1835, church the Order was using burnt down completely, the Mechitarists hired
the services of one of the most famous architects of Vienna of their days Josef
Kornhäusel for constructing a new church.
Due to financial
issues, the construction of the designed church failed to materialize for a few
decades. When the church was finally built, a new architect called Fritz Sitte
had already altered the designs strongly. He and later his son Camillo Sitte
built the church until 1874.
Congregation is not just a religious center, but a veritable cultural center for
Armenians as well. The monks especially cultivated the Armenian language,
Armenian history and Armenian literature and published all of the old Armenian
writers' works with commentaries under the title of "National Library". Aydinian
of Vienna wrote the fundamental textbook of modern Armenian grammar in 1866;
Tschamtschian (1738-1823) published a 3-volume history in Venice (which then
belonged to Austria), and in Vienna Garagaschian (1818-1903) wrote a 4-volume
history of Armenia.
The Vienna branch
has been publishing Handes Amsorya, a scholarly publication on Armenian
linguistics and philology, since 1887.
The library of
the Mechitarist Congregation, founded in 1773, owns a special collection of
Armenian and Oriental manuscripts (approx. 153,000 vols., 2,000 manuscripts,
numismatic collection). The Library has recently announced the formation of the
digital list of the Library's books and manuscripts available online.
was formed for the propagation of good books worldwide to all Armenian
communities, and a high-quality printing press that published average of six new
works each year.
A herb liquor
called “Mechitharine” and produced by the monks is said to contain 43 herbs and
12 fruits – the precise ingredients and recipe remains is a secret and known by
only two monks at a time. The Mechitharine is still produced today and sold
commercially by the monks.
WHO IS ABBOT MEKHITAR.
MEKHITARISTS' CULTURAL ACTIVITY
The cenobites who joined Mekhitar's institution, followed his example with
fidelity , trying to realize his ideal and to improve the general plan in a
logical way. It means to study and to make it familiar to the Armenian
people, in his historical, clerical, literary, linguistic, knowledge and
cultural values during centuries.
It is in front of this evident work that the 19th century revival became
incomprehensible without the Mekhitarists.
Mekhitar and his successors, with a planned work, collected during years
Armenian excellent manuscripts, saving them from being lost. Today, the
Mekhitarist libraries have around more than 5000 manuscripts abundant
collection with a valuable and exceptional importance.
During centuries, the two Mekhitarist convents being far from world
destroying calamities, collected from abroad and from Armenia Armenian
editions with patience and attention, forming a rich library, with ten
thousand volumes, in Armenian and European languages, also monthly
newspapers and ancient rare Armenian newspapers.
In the rich museums of Venice and Vienna are preserved invaluable treasures.
In their show-windows are exposed proudly ancient Armenian monies, carpets,
porcelains, silver work and sacred art samples and Armenian costumes.
Since 300 years, the Mekhitarist press and the publishing house continue to
work conscious of their role and function and till today the number of
Mekhitarist publications is thousands of volumes without taking into
consideration the Mekhitarist periodicals.
The Armenian academy of St. Lazar, founded in 1843 and the convent of Vienna
had their official Newspapers "Pazmaveb" and "Hantes Amsoria". Both of them,
continue to accomplish their qualified work till today.
From both Mekhitarist convents printing-press were published a long series
of publications, constituting the collection of the classic Armenian authors
(in literal language).
Then came the Historico-philological studies. The integral Armenian history
and the literature restored. The perverted classic Armenian language (the
literal) purified with convenient grammars and investigating studies.
The most important works of the Greek, Latin, Italian, French, German and
English literatures became translated into Armenian. And also, a voluminous
library of universal contemporary literary master pieces translations.
In 1784, the Armenian nation had its complete history for the first time due
to Michael Chamchian's three volumes publication, who taking his notes from
all Armenian and foreign resources, put the basis of the Armenian critical
Artist monks started to engrave Armenian maps, illustrate books, publish
works of art, pictures of Armenian historical places and monuments in order
to revive the love of the Armenian land and the Armenian Culture in the
The Armenian theatrical movement started also to spread abroad in the 19th
century due to Mekhitarist students and extended to the Armenian colonies.
In 1836-1837, "The New Dictionary of Haïgazian Language" , the two volume
dictionary became published , which till today remained excellent as the
most vast and irreplaceable dictionary . The only one of its kind and the
glory to the Armenology.
For the first time, the popular Armenian, the modern became the literary
language, entering in the Armenian reality, with annals and Puzantian style
Napoleon I Bonaparte, recognizing the exceptional appearance of the
Mekhitarists' intellectual activity, considered with a special empirical
permit in 1810, the Mekhitarist mother monastery of Venice as an academic
institution. In addition to the famous Armenian scientists, European
Armenolog scientists joined also as members. It is impossible to recognize
and to appreciate the Mekhitarists if their Armenian character was
Judge as you want, find in their works each possible fault, call them
partials, but there is one thing which is undoubted: their Armenian
nationality or the so-called "the Mekhitarist nationalism". The
representative of the Armenian modern poem and a Mekhitarist student, Taniel
Varoujan declared with glory: " My brain is proud by the pride of the
Mekhitarist ideal". Today also the Mekhitarist congregation, in spite of the
last years several life difficulties, continues its sacred mission following
the path that drew its founder.
THE MEKHITARIST SCHOOLS
With the literary activity, the Mekhitarist Fathers surrounded the important
Armenian colonies with scholastic net, being persuaded that education and
mind enlightenment are necessary for the new generations . They with their
schools, had played an important role in the past and continue to play today
with the deep consciousness of protecting the nation. Many national figures,
writers, poets, artists and politicians graduated from the Mekhitarist
Today the Mekhitarists have schools in Paris, Constantinople , Aleppo ,
Beirut , Buenos Aires and Los Angeles.
THE MEKHITARIST FATHERS' WEBSITE
The Mekhitarist Fathers' Monastic Order's website is found at: