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Christianity / Orientations / Roman Catholic / Eastern Rite /
Armenian Catholic Church



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St Elie - St Gregory Armenian Catholic Cathedral, Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Jari Kurittu.

Armenian Catholics by country
Last column: % Armenian Catholics of the population
Egypt 1,200 <0.1%
Iran 2,500 <0.1%
Iraq 3,000 <0.1%
Israel 300 <0.1%
Jordan 15,000 0.1%
Lebanon 20,000 0.7%
Syria 25,000 0.2%
Turkey 25,000 0.04%
TOTAL *) 92,000 0.02%
Other countries 400,000

*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.

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The Armenian Catholic Exarchate in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

Headquarters and church of the Armenian Catholic church, Istanbul, Turkey.
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Headquarters and church of the Armenian Catholic church, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: jascha jabes.

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Ceremony celebrating the baptism of Jesus, at the Armenian Catholic Exarchate in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

Semi-independent Christian church that is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church through the Eastern Rite. The church has about 92,000 members in the Middle East. Outside the region treated by this encyclopaedia there are about 400,000 adherents, mainly living in Armenia, the USA and France.
In Lebanon their centre is in Beirut, but the church is spread all over the central parts of the country. In Syria the majority lives in Aleppo. In Iraq they are centred in Baghdad. The Iranian centre is in Esfahan.
The Armenian Catholic Church has retained its identity distinct from the Roman Catholic Church, and the liturgy is performed in Classical Armenian. Today, the leader of the church, the Patriarch of the Catholic Armenians and Katholikos of Cilicia resides in Beirut, Lebanon.
There are 3 archdioceses: Aleppo (Syria), Baghdad (Iraq) and Istanbul (Turkey); 3 dioceses: Alexandria (Egypt), Esfahan (Iran) and Qamishle (Syria).

History
For early history, see Armenian Orthodox Church.

12th century: Some of the Armenians are reported to be Catholics. They form the kingdom of Little Armenia in Cilicia.
1375: Little Armenia collapses, and for about 350 years there are no Armenian Catholics.
1742: Abraham Artzivian, who was a Catholic, is elected patriarch of Sis. He forms the Armenian Catholic Church, and even becomes Bishop of Aleppo.
1911: The Armenian Catholic Church is divided into 19 dioceses.
1915- 18: The Armenians suffer heavy persecution from the Ottoman regime, where about 1 million are killed. During this time, many dioceses disappeared. Many adherents left for Europe and the USA.
1932: The head of the church, now called the Patriarch of the Catholic Armenians and Katholikos of Cilicia, moves to Beirut.




By Tore Kjeilen