The Mekhitarist Congregation (precious pearl established on St. Lazarus Island 3 centuries ago) is an unfathomable repository of science

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the Mekhitarist Congregation (named “Armenian Academy”), which was established on 8 September 1701 by Mekhitar Sebastatsi in Constantinople, established on St. Lazarus Island of Venice in 1717 and serves as one of the oldest centers for religion, training, education, science and culture. On this occasion, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian Studies and Social Sciences Section of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA), the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts-Matenadaran and the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice launched the two-day conference entitled “Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice-300” in the sessions hall of the presidency of the NAS RA. The conference gathered remarkable Armenologists, literary critics, historians and clergymen. I had an opportunity to interview one of those clergymen, editor of “Bazmavep” Journal of Armenian Studies, Archimandrite Serovbe Chamourlian for Hayern Aysor.

Karine Avagyan: Father Serovbe, have the large-scale activities of Abbot Mekhitar Sebastati been completely examined?

Father Serovbe: Mekhitar Sebastatsi carried out a tremendous amount of activities, and of course, not all of those activities have been examined. Three hundred years was not enough to examine Sebastatsi’s books and multilateral activities in detail and completely. I must say that it is very difficult to examine the unfathomable repository of his knowledge and works.

Karine Avagyan: Do you consider him an Armenologist, a historian or a theologian?

Father Serovbe: I consider him an embodiment and the bearer of all the great values of the Armenian nation.

Karine Avagyan: Which sphere of activities of Sebastatsi requires further examination?

Father Serovbe: I would say the field of music.

Karine Avagyan: Today, young Armenians are not too interested in the invaluable works of Sebastatsi (the great national and spiritual value) and the Mekhitarist Congregation. How can we explain this?

Father Serovbe: I agree, but I must say that it is the elders who have to guide the young people in order for them to show interest in, examine, appreciate and reanimate the lives and careers of great and remarkable Armenian figures, their values, as well as their tremendous legacy in history, culture, science and religion.

Karine Avagyan: How would you assess this conference?

Father Serovbe: I would definitely assess it as positive and necessary. We need to listen to speeches devoted to this or that sphere of activity of the Congregation and participate in discussions.

Karine Avagyan: Let’s talk about “Bazmavep”, which is the longest publishing Armenian periodical. Please, tell us, what does this journal of encyclopedic value lack today?

Father Serovbe: As you know, “Bazmavep” is an Armenological, philological and academic journal that has been publishing since 1843 on the St. Lazarus Island in Venice. The journal has had many remarkable editors and is considered the official newspaper of the Mekhitarist Congregation. The journal features materials devoted to history, philology, linguistics, literature, the arts and more. Even today, it continues the tradition of the past years and is still in the same direction. What does it lack? Perhaps it can become accessible to the public.

Karine Avagyan: Thank you, Father Serovbe! I wish that the Mekhitarist Congregation, the precious ‘pearl’ that has remained on St. Lazarus Island for three centuries, continues its pro-national activities and that the more than 170-year-old “Bazmavep” journal continues to contribute to the development of Armenian studies and remains the Light and Mouthpiece of the Mekhitarist Congregation and all Armenians.

Karine Avagyan

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