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Aristaces Azaria

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A Catholic Armenian abbot and archbishop, b. at Constantinople, 18 July, 1782; d. at Vienna, 6 May, 1854. He was sent at the age of fifteen to the College of the Propaganda in Rome, but his studies were interrupted (1798) by the French invasion. Having taken refuge among the Mechitarists of Triest, he entered their order in 1801, and in the same year was ordained priest. The authorities of the ephemeral Kingdom of Illyria confiscated (1810) the property of his convent, and, after vain attempts to obtain restitution, the monks settled in Vienna, where they lived by the instruction of Armenian youth and the revenue of a printing-press. Azaria was henceforth active as a missionary among his compatriots and a servant of the Holy See. In 1826 he was made general abbot of the community, and in 1827 was raised to the (titular) dignity of Archbishop of Caesarea. Under him the Mechitarist community in Vienna prospered, its library was increased, a bookstore added to the printing-press, and an abundant religious literature created, in Armenian and in German. He opened houses of his community in Rome, Triest, and Stamboul, founded the Armenian journal "Europa", established an academy for the literary and political improvement of his people, and obtained form the Porte (1830) the creation of an independent Catholic Armenian patriarchate. He wrote several (mostly anonymous) works, among them "De Vitâ Communi Perfecta Religiosorum Utriusque Sexus", in which he criticizes the condition of many Austrian religious houses, and "Die Erziehung im Geiste des Christenthumes" (Vienna, 1839). After a visit to Rome (1850) in the interest of monastic reform, he returned to Vienna (1852) where he died after the celebration of his golden jubilee.

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