Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Since immigration from the eastern portion of Europe and from Asia and Africa set in with such volume, the peoples who (both in union with and outside the unity of the Church ) follow the various Eastern rites arrived in the United States in large numbers, bringing with them their priests and their forms of worship. As they grew in number and financial strength, they erected churches in the various cities and towns throughout the country. Rome used to be considered the city where the various rites of the Church throughout the world could be seen grouped together, but in the United States they may be observed to a greater advantage than even in Rome. In Rome the various rites are kept alive for the purpose of educating the various national clergy who study there, and for demonstrating the unity of the Church , but there is no body of laymen who follow those rites ; in the United States on the contrary, it is the number and pressure of the laity which have caused the establishment and support of the churches of the various rites. There is consequently no better field for studying the various rites of the Church than in the chief cities of the United States, and such study has the advantage to the exact observer of affording an opportunity of comparing the dissident churches of those rites with those which belong to Catholic unity. The chief rites which have established themselves in America are these: (1) Armenian, (2) Greek or Byzantine, and (3) Syro-Maronite. There are also a handful of adherents of the Coptic, Syrian, and Chaldean rites, which will also be noticed, and there are occasionally priests of the various Latin rites.

I. THE ARMENIAN RITE

This rite alone, of all the rites in the Church, is confined to one people, one language, and one alphabet. It is, if anything, more exclusive than Judaism of old. Other rites are more widely extended in every way: the Roman Rite is spread throughout Latin, Teutonic, and Slavic peoples, and it even has two languages, the Latin and the Ancient Slavonic, and two alphabets, the Roman and the Glagolitic, in which its ritual is written; the Greek or Byzantine Rite extends among Greek, Slavic, Latin, and Syrian peoples, and its services are celebrated in Greek, Slavonic, Rumanian, and Arabic with service-books in the Greek, Cyrillic, Latin, and Arabic alphabets. But the Armenian Rite, whether Catholic or Gregorian, is confined exclusively to persons of the Armenian race, and employs the ancient Armenian language and alphabet. The history and origin of the race have been given in the article ARMENIA, but a word may be said of the language ( Hayk , as it is called), and its use in the liturgy. The majority of the Armenians were converted to Christianity by St. Gregory the Illuminator, a man of noble family, who was made Bishop of Armenia in 302. So thoroughly was his work effected that Armenia alone of the ancient nations converted to Christianity has preserved no pagan literature antedating the Christian literature of the people; pagan works, if they ever existed, seem to have perished in the ardour of the Armenians for Christian thought and expression. The memory of St. Gregory is so revered that the Armenians who are opposed to union with the Holy See take pride in calling themselves "Gregorians," implying that they keep the faith taught by St. Gregory. Hence it is usual to call the dissidents "Gregorians," in order to distinguish them from the Uniat Catholics. At first the language of the Christian liturgy in Armenia was Syriac, but later they discarded it for their own tongue, and translated all the services into Armenian, which was at first written in Syriac or Persian letters. About 400 St. Mesrob invented the present Armenian alphabet (except two final letters which were added in the year 1200) and their language, both ancient and modern, has been written in that alphabet ever since. Mesrob also translated the New Testament into Armenian and revised the entire liturgy. The Armenians in their church life have led almost as checkered an existence as they have in their national life. At first they were in full communion with the Universal Church. They were bitterly opposed to Nestorianism, and, when in 451 the council of Chalcedon condemned the doctrine of Eutyches, they seceded, holding the opinion that such a definition was sanctioning Nestorianism, and have since remained separated from and hostile to the Greek Church of Constantinople. In 1054 the Greeks seceded in turn from unity with the Roman Church, and nearly three centuries later the Armenians became reconciled with Rome, but the union lasted only a brief period. Breaking away from unity again, the majority formed a national church which agreed neither with the Greek nor the Roman Church ; a minority, recruited by converts to union with the Holy See in the seventeenth century remained united Armenian Catholics.

The Mass and the whole liturgy of the Armenian Church is said in Ancient Armenian, which differs considerably from the modern tongue. The language is an offshoot of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Germanic family of languages, and probably found its earliest written expression in the cuneiform inscriptions; it is unlike the Semitic languages immediately surrounding it. Among its peculiarities are twelve regular declensions and eight irregular declensions of nouns and five conjugations of the verbs, while there are many difficulties in the way of postpositions and the like. It abounds in consonants and guttural sounds; the words of the Lord's Prayer in Armenian will suffice as an example: "Hair mier, vor herghins ies, surp iegitzi anun ko, ieghastze arkautiun ko, iegitzin garnk ko, vorbes hierghins iev hergri, zhatz mier hanabazort dur miez aissor, iev tog miez ezbardis mier, vorbes iev mek togumk merotz bardabanatz, iev mi danir zmez i porsutiun, ail perghea i chare." The language is written from left to right, like Greek, Latin or English, but in an alphabet of thirty-eight peculiar letters which are dissimilar in form to anything in the Greek or Latin alphabet, and are arranged in a most perplexing order. For instance, the Armenian alphabet starts off with a, p, k, t, z , etc., and ends up with the letter f . It may also be noted that the Armenian has changed the consonantal values of most of the ordinary sounds in Christian names ; thus George becomes Kevork; Sergius, Sarkis; Jacob, Hagop; Joseph, Hovsep; Gregory, Krikori; Peter, Bedros; and so on. The usual clan addition of the word "son" (ian) to most Armenian family names, something like the use of mac in the Gaelic languages, renders usual Armenian names easy of identification (e.g., Azarian, Hagopian, Rubian, Zohrabian, etc.).

The book containing the regulations for the administration of the sacraments, analogous to the Greek Euchologion or the Roman Ritual, is called the "Mashdotz," after the name of its compiler St. Mesrob, who was surnamed Mashdotz. He arranged and compiled the five great liturgical books used in the Armenian Church : (1) the Breviary (Zhamakirk) or Book of Hours; (2) The Directory (Tzutzak) or Calendar, containing the fixed festivals of the year; (3) The Liturgy (Pataragakirk) or Missal, arranged and enriched also by John Mantaguni; (4) The Book of Hymns (Dagaran), arranged for the principal great feasts of the year; (5) The Ritual or "Mashdotz," mentioned above. A peculiarity about the Armenian Church is that the majority of great feasts falling upon weekdays are celebrated on the Sunday immediately following. The great festivals of the Christian year are divided by the Armenians into five classes: (1) Easter ; (2) feasts which fall on Sunday such as Palm Sunday, Pentecost, etc.; (3) feasts which are observed on the days on which they occur: the Nativity, Epiphany, Circumcision, Presentation, and Annunciation ; (4) feasts which are transferred to the following Sunday : Transfiguration, Immaculate Conception, Nativity B.V.M., Assumption, Holy Cross, feasts of the Apostles, etc.; (5) other feasts, which are not observed at all unless they can be transferred to Sunday. The Gregorian Armenians observe the Nativity, Epiphany, and Baptism of Our Lord on the same day (6 January), but the Catholic Armenians observe Christmas on 25 December and the Epiphany on 6 January, and they observe many of the other feasts of Our Lord on the days on which they actually fall. The principal fasts are: (1) Lent ; (2) the Fast of Nineveh for two weeks, one month before the commencement of Lent -- in reality a remnant of the ancient Lenten fast, now commemorated only in name by our Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays ; (3) the week following Pentecost. The days of abstinence are the Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year with certain exceptions (e.g., during the week after the Nativity, Easter, and the Assumption). In the Armenian Church Saturday is observed as the Sabbath, commemorating the Old Law and the creation of man, and Sunday, as the Lord's Day of Resurrection and rejoicing, commemorating the New Law and the redemption of man. Most of the saints' days are dedicated to Armenian saints not commemorated in other lands but the Armenian Catholics in Galicia and Transylvania use the Gregorian (not the Julian) Calendar and have many Roman saints' days and feasts added to their ancient ecclesiastical year.

In the actual arrangement of the church building for worship the Armenian Rite differs both from the Greek and the Latin. While the Armenian Church was in communion with Rome, it seems to have united many Roman practices in its ritual with those that were in accord with the Greek or Byzantine forms. The church building may be divided into the sanctuary and church proper (choir and nave.) The sanctuary is a platform raised above the general level of the church and reached by four or more steps. The altar is always erected in the middle of it and it is again a few steps higher than the level of & sanctuary. It is perhaps possible that the Armenians originally used an altar-screen or iconostasis, like that of the Greek churches, but it has long since disappeared. Still they do not use the open altar like the Latin Church. Two curtains are hung before the sanctuary : a large double curtain hangs before its entrance, extending completely across the space like the Roman chancel rail, and is so drawn as to conceal the altar, the priest, and the deacons at certain parts of the Mass; the second and smaller curtain is used merely to separate the priest from the deacons and to cover the altar after service. Each curtain opens on both sides, and ordinarily is drawn back from the middle. The second curtain is not much used. The use of these curtains is ascribed to the year 340, when they were required by a canon formulated by Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem. Upon the altar are usually the Missal, the Book of Gospels, a cross upon which the image of Our Lord is painted or engraved in low relief, and two or more candles, which are lighted as in the Roman use. The Blessed Sacrament is usually reserved in a tabernacle on the altar, and a small lamp kept burning there at all times. In the choir, usually enclosed within a low iron railing, the singers and priests stand in lines while singing or reciting the Office. In the East, the worshipper, upon entering the nave of the church, usually takes off his shoes, just as the Mohammedans do, for the Armenian founds this practice upon Ex., iii, 5; this custom is not followed in the United States nor do the Armenians there sit cross-legged upon the floor in their churches, as they do in Asia.

The administration of the sacraments is marked by some ceremonies unlike those of the Roman or Greek Churches, and by some which are a composite of the two. In the Sacrament of Baptism the priest meets the child carried in the arms of the nurse at the church door, and, while reciting Psalms li and cxxx, takes two threads (one white and the other red) and twists them into a cord, which he afterwards blesses. Usually the godfather goes to confession before the baptism, in order that he may fulfil his duties in the state of grace. The exorcisms and renunciations then take place, and the recital of the Nicene Creed and the answers to the responses follow. The baptismal water is blessed, the anointing with oil performed, the prayers for the catechumen to be baptized are said, and then the child is stripped. The priest takes the child and holds it in the font so that the body is in the water, but the head is out, and the baptism takes place in this manner: "N., the servant of God coming into the state of a catechumen and thence to that of baptism, is now baptized by me, in the name of the Father [here he pours a handful of water on the head of the child], and of the Son [here he pours water as before], and of the Holy Ghost [here he pours a third handful]." After this the priest dips the child thrice under the water, saying on each occasion: "Thou art redeemed by the blood of Christ from the bondage of sin, by receiving the liberty of sonship of the Heavenly Father, and becoming a co-heir with Christ and a temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen." Then the child is washed and clothed again, generally with a new and beautiful robe, and the priest when washing the child says: "Ye that were baptized in Christ, have put on Christ, Alleluia. And ye that have been illumined by God the Father , may the Holy Ghost rejoice in you. Alleluia." Then the passage of the Gospel of St. Matthew relating the baptism of Christ in the Jordan is read, and the rite thus completed.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the priest immediately after baptism, although the Catholic Armenians sometimes reserve it for the bishop. The holy chrism is applied by the priest to the forehead, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, palms, heart, spine, and feet, each time with a reference to the seal of the Spirit. Finally, the priest lays his hand upon and makes the sign of the cross on the child's forehead saying: "Peace to thee, saved through God." When the confirmation is thus finished, the priest binds the child's forehead with the red and white string which he twisted at the beginning of the baptism and fastens it at the end with a small cross. He gives two candles, one red and one green, to the godfather and has the child brought up to the altar where Communion is given to it by a small drop of the Sacred Blood, or, if it be not at the time of Mass, by taking the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle and signing the mouth of the child with it in the form of the cross, saying in either case: "The plenitude of the Holy Ghost "; if the candidate be an adult, full Communion is administered, and there the confirmation is ended.

The formula of absolution in the Sacrament of Penance is: "May the merciful God have mercy upon you and grant you the pardon of all your sins, both confessed and forgotten; and I by virtue of my order of priesthood and in force of the power granted by the Divine Command: Whosesoever sins you remit on earth they are remitted unto them in heaven ; through that same word I absolve you from all participation in sin, by thought, word and deed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And I again restore you to the sacraments of the Holy Church ; whatsoever good you shall do, shall be counted to you for merit and for glory in the life to come. May the shedding of the blood of the Son of God, which He shed upon the cross and which delivered human nature from hell, deliver you from your sins. Amen." As a rule Armenians are exhorted to make their confession and communion on at least five days in the year: the so-called Daghavork or feasts of Tabernacles, i.e., the Epiphany, Easter, Transfiguration, Assumption, and Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The first two festivals are obligatory and, if an Armenian neglects his duty, he incurs excommunication.

The Sacrament of Extreme Unction (or "Unction with Oil," as it is called) is supposed to be administered by seven priests in the ancient form, but practically it is performed by a single priest on most occasions. The eyes, ears, nose, lips, hands, feet, and heart of the sick man are anointed, with this form: "I anoint thine eyes with holy oil, so that whatever sin thou mayst have committed through thy sight, thou mayst be saved therefrom by the anointing of this oil, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ", and with a similar reference to the other members anointed.

The Divine Liturgy or Mass is of course the chief rite among the Armenians, whether Catholic or Gregorian, and it is celebrated with a form and ceremonial which partakes in a measure both of the Roman and Byzantine rites. As we have said, the curtains are used instead of the altar-rail or iconostasis of those rites, and the vestments are also peculiar. The Armenians, like the Latins, use unleavened bread, in the form of a wafer or small thin round cake, for consecration ; but like the Greeks they prepare many wafers, and those not used for consecration in the Mass are given afterwards to the people as the antidoron. The wine used must be solely the fermented juice of the best grapes obtainable. In the Gregorian churches Communion is given to the people under both species, the Host being dipped in the chalice before delivering it to the communicant, but in the Catholic churches Communion is now given only in one species, that of the Body, although there is no express prohibition against the older form. On Christmas Eve and Easter Eve the Armenians celebrate Mass in the evening; the Mass then begins with the curtains drawn whilst the introductory psalms and prophecies are sung, but, at the moment the great feast is announced in the Introit, the curtains are withdrawn and the altar appears with full illumination. During Lent the altar remains entirely hidden by the great curtains, and during all the Sundays in Lent, except Palm Sunday, Mass is celebrated behind the drawn curtains. A relic of this practice still remains in the Roman Rite, as shown by the veiling of the images and pictures from Passion Sunday till Easter Eve. The Armenian vestments for Mass are peculiar and splendid. The priest wears a crown, exactly in the form of a Greek bishop's mitre, which is called the Saghavard or helmet. This is also worn by the deacons attending on a bishop at pontifical Mass. The Armenian bishops wear a mitre almost identical in shape with the Latin mitre, and said to have been introduced at the time of the union with Rome in the twelfth century, when they relinquished the Greek form of mitre for the priests to wear in the Mass. The celebrant is first vested with the shapik or alb, which is usually narrower than the Latin form, and usually of linen (sometimes of silk). He then puts on each of his arms the bazpans or cuffs, which replace the Latin maniple ; then the ourar or stole, which is in one piece; then the goti or girdle, then the varkas or amict, which is a large embroidered stiff collar with a shoulder covering to it; and finally the shoochar , or chasuble, which is almost exactly like a Roman cope. If the celebrant be a bishop, he also wears the gonker or Greek epigonation. The bishops carry a staff shaped like the Latin, while the vartabeds (deans, or doctors of divinity; analogous to the Roman mitred abbots ) carry a staff in the Greek form (a staff with two intertwined serpents). No organs are used in the Armenian church, but the elaborate vocal music of the Eastern style, sung by choir and people, is accompanied by two metallic instruments, the keshotz and zinzqha (the first a fan with small bells ; the second similar to cymbals), both of which are used during various parts of the Mass. The deacon wears merely an alb, and a stole in the same manner as in the Roman Rite. The subdeacons and lower clergy wear simply the alb.

The Armenian Mass may be divided into three parts: Preparation, Anaphora or Canon, and Conclusion. The first and preparatory portion extends as far as the Preface, when the catechumens are directed by the deacon to leave. The Canon commences with the conclusion of the Preface and ends with the Communion. As soon as the priest is robed in his vestments he goes to the altar, washes his hands reciting Psalm xxvi, and then going to the foot of the altar begins the Mass. After saying the Intercessory Prayer, the Confiteor and the Absolution, which is given with a crucifix in hand, he recites Psalm xlii (Introibo ad altare), and at every two verses ascends a step of the altar. After he has intoned the prayer "In the tabernacle of holiness," the curtains are drawn, and the choir sings the appropriate hymn of the day. Meanwhile the celebrant behind the curtain prepares the bread on the paten and fills the chalice, ready for the oblation. When this is done the curtains are withdrawn and the altar incensed. Then the Introit of the day is sung, then the prayers corresponding to those of the first, second, and third antiphons of the Byzantine Rite, while the proper psalms are sung by the choir. Then the deacon intones "Proschume" (let us attend), and elevates the book of the gospels, which is incensed as he brings it to the altar, making the Little Entrance. The choir then sings the Trisagion ( Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us) thrice. The Gregorians interpolate after "Holy and Immortal" some words descriptive of the feast day, such as "who was made manifest for us," or "who didst rise from the dead," but this addition has been condemned at Rome as being a relic of the Patripassian heresy. During the Trisagion the Keshotz is jingled in accompaniment. Then the Greek Ektene or Litany is sung, and at its conclusion the reader reads the Prophecy ; then the Antiphon before the Epistle is sung, and the epistle of the day read. At the end of each the choir responds Alleluia. Then the deacon announces "Orthi" (stand up) and, taking the Gospels, reads or intones the gospel of the day. Immediately afterwards, the Armenian form of the Nicene Creed is said or sung. It differs from the creed as said in the Roman and Greek Churches in that it has, " consubstantial with the Father by whom all things were made in Heaven and in Earth, visible and invisible ; who for us men and our salvation came down from Heaven, was incarnate and was made man and perfectly begotten through the Holy Ghost of the most Holy Virgin Mary; he assumed from her body, soul, and mind, and all that in man is, truly and not figuratively ;" and "we believe also in the Holy Ghost, not created, all perfect , who proceedeth from the Father (and the Son), who spake in the Law, in the Prophets and the Holy Gospel, who descended into the Jordan, who preached Him who was sent, and who dwelt in the Saints ," and after concluding in the ordinary form adds the sentence pronounced by the First Council of Nicaea: "Those who say there was a time when the Son was not, or when the Holy Ghost was not; or that they were created out of nothing; or that the Son of God and the Holy Ghost are of another substance or that they are mutable; the Catholic and Apostolic church condemns." Then the Confession of St. Gregory is intoned aloud, and the Little Ektene sung. The kiss of peace is here given to the clergy. The deacon at its close dismisses the catechumens, and the choir sings the Hymn of the Great Entrance, when the bread and wine are solemnly brought to the altar. "The Body of our Lord and the Blood of our Redeemer are to be before us. The Heavenly Powers invisible sing and proclaim with uninterrupted voice, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts."

Here the curtains are drawn, and the priest takes off his crown (or the bishop his mitre ). The priest incenses the holy gifts and again washes his bands, repeating Psalm xxvi as before. After the Salutation is sung, the catechumens are dismissed, and the Anaphora or Canon begins. The Preface is said secretly, only the concluding part being intoned to which the choir responds with the Sanctus. The prayer before consecration follows, with a comparison of the Old and the New Law, not found in either Greek or Roman Rite : "Holy, Holy, Holy; Thou art in truth most Holy; who is there who can dare to describe by words thy bounties which flow down upon us without measure? For Thou didst protect and console our forefathers, when they had fallen in sin, by means of the prophets, the Law, the priesthood, and the offering of bullocks, showing forth that which was to come. And when at length He came, Thou didst tear in pieces the register of our sins, and didst bestow on us Thine Only Begotten Son, the debtor and the debt, the victim and the anointed, the Lamb and Bread of Heaven, the Priest and the Oblation for He is the distributor and is always distributed amongst us, without being exhausted. Being made man truly and not apparently, and by union without confusion, He was incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and journeyed through all the passions of human life, sin only excepted, and of His own free will walked to the cross, whereby He gave life to the world and wrought salvation for us." Then follow the actual words of consecration, which are intoned aloud. Then follow the Offering and the Epiklesis, which differs slightly, in the Gregorian and Catholic form; the Gregorian is: "whereby Thou wilt make the bread when blessed truly the body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ;" and the Catholic form: "whereby Thou hast made the bread when blessed truly the Body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." As there is actually no blessing or consecration after the Epiklesis, the Catholic form represents the correct belief. Then come the prayers for the living and the dead, and an intoning by the deacons of the Commemoration of the Saints, in which nearly all the Armenian saints are mentioned. Then the deacon intones aloud the Ascription of Praise of Bishop Chosroes the Great in thanksgiving for the Sacrament of the Altar. After this comes a long Ektene or Litany, and then the Our Father is sung by the choir. The celebrant then elevates the consecrated Host, saying "Holy things for Holy Persons," and when the choir responds, he continues: "Let us taste in holiness the holy and honourable Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who came down from heaven and is now distributed among us." Then the choir sings antiphons in honour of the sacrifice of the Body and Blood, and the small curtain is drawn. The priest kisses the sacred Victim, saying "I confess and I believe that Thou art Christ, the Son of God, who has borne the sins of the world." The Host is divided into three parts, one of which is placed in the chalice. The choir sing the communion hymns as appointed; the priest and the clergy receive the Communion first, and then the choir and people. The little curtain is withdrawn when the Communion is given, and the great curtains are drawn back when the people come up for Communion.

After Communion, the priest puts on his crown (or the bishop his mitre ), and the great curtains are again drawn. Thanksgiving prayers are said behind them, after which the great curtains are withdrawn once more, and the priest holding the book of gospels says the great prayer of peace, and blesses the people. Then the deacon proclaims "Orthi" (stand up) and the celebrant reads the Last Gospel, which is nearly always invariable, being the Gospel of St. John, i, 1 sqq.: "In the beginning was the Word, etc."; the only exception is from Easter to the eve of Pentecost, when they use the Gospel of St. John, xxi, 15-20: "So when they had dined, etc." Then the prayer for peace and the " Kyrie Eleison " (thrice) are said, the final benediction is given, and the priest retires from the altar. Whilst Psalm xxxiv is recited or sung by the people, the blessed bread is distributed. The Catholic Armenians confine this latter rite to high festivals only. The chief editions of the Gregorian Armenian Missals are those printed at Constantinople (1823, 1844), Jerusalem (1841, 1873, and 1884), and Etschmiadzin (1873); the chief Catholic Armenian editions are those of Venice (1808, 1874, 1895), Trieste (1808), and Vienna (1858, 1884).

Armenian Catholics

Armenians had come to the United States in small numbers prior to 1895. In that and the following year the Turkish massacres took place throughout Armenia and Asia Minor, and large numbers of Armenians emigrated to America. Among them were many Armenian Catholics, although these were not sufficiently numerous to organize any religious communities like their Gregorian brethren. In 1898 Msgr. Stephan Azarian (Stephen X), then Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, who resided in Constantinople, entered into negotiations with Cardinal Ledochowski , Prefect of the Congregation of the Propaganda, and through him obtained the consent of Archbishop Corrigan of New York and Archbishop Williams of Boston for priests of the Armenian Rite to labour in their respective provinces for the Armenian Catholics who had come to this country. He sent as the first Armenian missionary the Very Reverend Archpriest Mardiros Mighirian, who had been educated at the Propaganda and the Armenian College, and arrived in the United States on Ascension Day, 11 May, 1899. He at first went to Boston where he assembled a small congregation of Armenian Catholics, and later proceeded to New York to look after the spiritual welfare of the Catholic Armenians in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He also established a mission station in Worcester, Massachusetts. In New York and Brooklyn the Catholics of the Armenian Rite are divided into those who speak Armenian and those who, coming from places outside of the historic Armenia, speak the Arabic language. At present this missionary is stationed at St. Stephen's church in East Twenty-eighth Street, since large numbers of Armenians live in that vicinity, but has another congregation under his charge in Brooklyn. All these Catholic Armenians are too poor to build any church or chapel of their own, and use the basement portion of the Latin churches. Towards the end of 1906 another Armenian priest, Rev. Manuel Basieganian, commenced mission work in Paterson, New Jersey , and now attends mission stations throughout New England, New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania. In 1908 Rev. Hovsep (Joseph) Keossajian settled in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and established a chapel in St. Mary's Church. He also ministers to the spiritual wants of the Armenian Catholics at Boston, Cambridge, East Watertown, Newton, Lynn, Chelsea, and Lowell. In 1909 Rev. Moses Mazarian took charge of the Armenian mission at Cleveland, Ohio, and in the cities throughout the west. None of these have been able to build independent Armenian churches, but usually hold their services in the Roman Catholic churches. Besides the places already mentioned there are slender Armenian Catholic congregations at Haverhill, Worcester, Fitchburg, Milford, Fall River, Holyoke, and Whiting, in Massachusetts ; Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire ; xxyyyk.htm">Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls in Rhode Island ; New Britain and Bridgeport, in Connecticut ; Jersey City, West Hoboken, and Newark, in New Jersey ; and Philadelphia and Chicago. The number of Catholic Armenians in the United States is very small, being estimated at about 2000 to 2500 all told. So many of them reside among the other Armenians and frequent their churches, that there may be more who do not profess themselves Catholics, and purely Armenian chapels would doubtless bring to light many whom the mission priests on their rounds do not reach.

Gregorian Armenians

Inasmuch as Armenia was converted to the faith of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the Armenians who are not in union with the Holy See pride themselves upon the fact that they more truly hold the faith preached by St. Gregory and they are accordingly called Gregorians , since the word "Orthodox" would be likely to confuse them with the Greeks. By reason of the many schools founded in Armenia and in Constantinople by American Protestant missionaries, their attention was turned to America, and, when the massacres of 1895-96 took place, large numbers came to the United States. Many of them belonged to the Protestant Armenian Church, and identified themselves with the Congregationalists or Presbyterians ; but the greater number of them belonged to the national Gregorian Church. In 1889 Rev. Hovsep Sarajian, a priest from Constantinople, was sent to the Armenians in Massachusetts, and a church which was built in Worcester in 1891, is still the headquarters of the Armenian Church in the United States. The emigration increasing greatly after the massacres, Father Sarajian was reinforced by several other Armenian priests ; in 1898 he was made bishop, and in 1903 was invested with archiepiscopal authority, having Canada and the United States under his jurisdiction. Seven great pastorates were organized to serve as the nuclei of future dioceses : at Worcester, Boston, and Lawrence (Massachusetts), New York, xxyyyk.htm">Providence (Rhode Island), Fresno (California), and Chicago (Illinois). To these was added West Hoboken in 1906. There are numerous congregations and mission stations in various cities. Churches have been built in Worcester, Fresno, and West Hoboken; in Boston and xxyyyk.htm">Providence halls are rented, and in other places arrangements are often made with Episcopal churches where their services are held. The Gregorian Armenian clergy comprises the archbishop, seven resident and three missionary priests, while the number of Gregorian Armenians is given at 20,000 in the United States . There are several Armenian societies and two Armenian newspapers, and also Armenian reading-rooms in several places.

II. BYZANTINE OR GREEK RITE

This rite, reckoning both the Catholic and Schismatic Churches, comes next in expansion through the Christian world to the Roman Rite. It also ranks next to the Roman Rite in America, there being now (1911) about 156 Greek Catholic churches, and about 149 Greek Orthodox churches in the United States. The Eastern Orthodox Churches of Russia, Turkey, Rumania, Servia, and Bulgaria, and other places where they are found, make up a total of about 120,000,000, while the Uniat Churches of the same rite, the Greek


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
1 Once the king had settled into his palace and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 16:25-27
25 And now to him who can make you strong in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 21st, 2014 Image

St. Peter Canisius
December 21: In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter