Mekhitarian Congregation of Vienna
Monastic Order



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 Habsburg empire.

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.


After the 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.

[edit] Contemporary History


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.


Both countries 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.



Although the 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.


Vienna 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.


An association 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.





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 history.

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 souls.
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 periodicals publications.

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 forgotten.

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.


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 schools.
Today the Mekhitarists have schools in Paris, Constantinople , Aleppo , Beirut , Buenos Aires and Los Angeles



The Mekhitarist Fathers' Monastic Order's website is found at:



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