Treasures of NAASR's Mardigian Library:
Khrimian Hayrik (1820-1907)
“He is a figure which steps straight out from the Old Testament with all the fire and all the poetry.”
H. F. B. Lynch (Travels and Studies in Armenia)
In 1820 two prominent Armenians were born who devoted their lives to Armenia and the Armenian people and were venerated by their contemporaries. Khrimian Hayrik (1820-1907) was an Armenian Apostolic Church leader, educator, and publisher who became the Patriarch of Constantinople and later Catholicos of All Armenians. Ghevond Alishan (1820-1901) was a philologist, historian, geographer, translator, a member of the Mkhitarist Congregation in Venice.

Since it is not possible to do full justice to either of these giants in this format, much less jointly in one presentation, we will highlight Khrimian Hayrik first and Alishan in a subsequent feature, focusing on some of their publications and publications related to them as represented in NAASR’s Mardigian Library while also providing background on their lives and works. (These features were originally planned for fall of 2020 to mark the 200th anniversary of their births, but were put aside due to the Artsakh war.)

Each man was a product of—and, in turn, helped shape—their times, but also continues to speak to us across time.
“To write about Khrimian Hairik, one must dip the pen in the sacred pool of the Armenian people, because every Armenian has two fathers, himself and the Father of All Armenians.”
—Vazgen I, Catholicos of All Armenians (1908-1994)
Mkrtich Khrimian (Մկրտիչ Խրիմեան), known by the affectionate epithet Hayrik/Hayrig (Հայրիկ [Little Father]), was born in Van. After the death of his wife and only daughter, he devoted himself to the Armenian Church and education. He believed strongly in the importance of education and its ability to change the lives of Armenians, especially in Western Armenian cities and villages far away from Constantinople. He established schools, including schools for girls, and published journals. Under his leadership, Varakavank [Varagavank], near Van, and Surp Garabed [Surb Karapet] Vank, near Mush, became the most influential centers for education and publishing in Western Armenia proper.
Pre-1915 photo of Varakavank, from the NAASR Mardigian Library
His sermons, books, and journal writings contributed to the rise of an Armenian national identity and the formation of the national liberation movements. He had the opportunity to travel throughout different Armenian communities, making connections with Armenian intellectuals, before becoming Patriarch or Catholicos. Thus, he was aware of the reality of Armenian life in the villages and cities. The relations between Armenians of Constantinople and provincial Armenians concerned him, and he tried to improve the conditions of Armenians in Western Armenia.
Alice Stone Blackwell (1857-1950), in her Armenian Poems (1896; republished 1917), published translations of three poems by Khrimian Hayrik: "Murmurs of a Patriot," "The Memorial of the Lamenting Soldier," and "Garine."
Blackwell wrote that Khrimian Hayrik “is the grandest figure in modern Armenian history. He has been compared to Lincoln. Beginning in poverty, and possessing little education, he rose to the highest place through his native greatness of mind and heart. ... He was a strong advocate of education for girls, and in one of his books, “The Family of Paradise,” he argues against the prevailing Oriental idea that husbands have a right to rule over their wives by force. All his views were progressive. His pupils went out through the country, spreading light. He protested courageously against the oppression and robbery practised on the Armenians. … He was deeply loved and venerated for his wisdom and saintliness. He died in 1907, universally mourned. The affectionate surname of “Hairig” (Little Father) was given him by the people.”
Above: title page of 2nd ed. (1917) of Armenian Poems, signed by Alice Stone Blackwell. NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Rev. Aram Marashlian.
In 1878, Khrimian Hayrik was asked by Nerses II, his successor as Patriarch of Constantinople, to lead the Armenian delegation to the Congress of Berlin, a gathering of Europe’s great powers—Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France—after the Russo-Turkish War to decide the fate of southeast Europe and the peoples who lived there.
After returning from Berlin, Hayrik delivered a sermon in Constantinople that came to be known as the “Iron Ladle” speech because of the eloquent explanation he used to describe the helplessness he felt in Berlin and, more importantly, the lesson Armenians needed to take from the experience. Because of its importance, we quote at length from the translation by Dr. Ara Caprielian (Hayrig [New York: Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, 1987, pp. 23-24])
You know that according to the decision of Patriarch Nerses and the National Assembly we went as a delegate to Berlin in order to present the Armenian Case to the Great Powers attending the Congress. We had great hopes that the Congress would grant peace to the world and freedom to the small and oppressed nations—among them our own. The Congress convened and the statesmen of the Great Powers assembled around diplomatic tables covered with green cloth while the delegates of small and oppressed nations were waiting outside the Congress. In the middle of the Congress on a table covered with a green table cloth was placed a big cauldron of Harriseh from which big and small nations and states were to receive their share. Some of the participants were pulling towards the East, others were pulling towards the West and after a long argument they began to call in order one by one the delegates of the small nations. First the Bulgarian walked in followed by the Serb and then Gharadaghian [i.e., Montenegrin]; the rattling and clinking of the sabres dangling from their sides attracted the attention of those present.
After much talking, these three delegates drew their sabres and using them as iron ladles dipped them in the cauldron of Harriseh, took their portion and departed proud and dauntless. It was now the turn of the Armenian delegate. I drew near with the paper petition given to me by the National Assembly imploring them to fill my plate with Harriseh, too. The officials standing around the cauldron at that time asked me. “Where is your iron ladle? It is true that Harriseh is being distributed here but one who doesn’t have an iron ladle can’t approach it. Hearken this if in the near future should Harriseh again be distributed at that time, don’t come without a ladle, you will go back emptyhanded.
Ah! dear Armenian people, could I have dipped my Paper Ladle in the cauldron, it would sog and remain there! Where guns talk and sabres shine, what significant do appeals and petitions have?
And I truly say that next to the Gharadagh and Bulgar delegates there were several brave youth; blood was dripping from the sabres hanging from their sides…at that time I turned my face making believe that I was searching for my Zeytountsi, Sassountsi, Shatakhtsi or other brave mountaineer or peasant. But where were they? People of Armenia, tell me, where were those brave souls? Shouldn’t one or two of them have been by my side so that showing the bloody sabres to the diplomats of the Congress I could have exclaimed: “See my iron ladles, they are here, ready! But alas…I had only a paper petition which got wet in the Harriseh and we returned empty handed. … In spite of all, in view of the future, going to the Congress of Berlin was not useless.
People of Armenia, of course you will understand what the gun could have done and can do. Therefore, dear and blessed Armenians, upon returning to your fatherland, each of you take a gun as a gift to your friends and relatives. Again and again, arm yourselves! People, place the hope for your liberation on yourselves. Use your intellect and muscle. Man must toil himself in order to be saved...
Author Alexander Shirvanzade (1858-1935) described Khrimian Hayrik’s appearance as “unique,” stating that “no photo can imagine Khrimian's face, especially the expression of the big blue eyes” (Shirvanzade, Erkeri Zhoghovatsu tase hatorov, hator uterord [Erevan: Haypethrat, 1961], p. 509). Khrimian Hayrik was the subject of paintings by several prominent Armenian artists, such as Ivan Aivazovsky, Yeghishe Tadeosyan, Vardges Sureniants.
Sureniants (1860-1921) depicts Khrimian Hayrik having just received the infamous tsarist proclamation (June 12, 1903) on the confiscation of the property of the Armenian Church. As the result of demonstrations and armed clashes took place in the Armenian-populated regions (and memorably depicted, for example, by Malkhas in his novel Zart'onk'), on August 1, 1905, Tsar Nicholas II signed a decree rescinding the order.
Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) composed a work named for Khrimian Hayrig in 1944 (op. 49), “inspired by a portrait of the heroic priest Khrimian Hairig, who led the Armenian people through many persecutions.” The composition was first commercially recorded in 1995 by the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra and has also been recorded by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Paintings of Khrimian Hayrik by Sureniants (above) (1906); Aivazovsky (below, left) (1895); and Tadeosyan (below, right) (1900).
Title: Margarit Ark‘ayut‘ean Erknits‘ Hisusi Vardapetut‘ean Hamarōt Daser = Մարգարիտ Արքայութեան Երկնից Յիսուսի Վարդապետութեան Համառօտ Դասեր [The Pearl of the Heavenly Kingdom: Summary of the Doctrine of Jesus]

Publication Information: K. Polis: Tpagrut‘iwn Tntesean, 1876

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Haroutiun Kazazian

This is an educational book on Christian spiritual values, based on the Gospel According to Matthew, chapters 5-7.
Title: Drakhti Ěntanik (I pēts hayots‘ ěntaneats‘) =Դրախտի Ընտանիք (ի պէտս հայոց ընտանեաց) [Family of Paradise (For the Needs of Armenian Families)]

Publication Information: Kostandnupolis: Gortsaran Zardarean, 1876; K. Polis: Tpagrut'iwn G. Paghtatlean (Aramean), 1887; Tiflis: Tparan M. D. Rotineants՛i, 1893; K. Polis: Gratun H. Gelechean, 1911

NAASR Mardigian Library, gift of Ann Marie Shimony and John Bamberger (1887 ed.); from the collection of Martin Halabian (1893 ed.); from the collection of the Hairenik Association (1911 ed.)

The book was first published in 1876 in Constantinople and was republished several times in different cities and publishing houses. This book educational book contains 18 sections and is meant to be a guide for Armenian family life. As such it is written in language understandable for all Armenians, not only scholars and clergy.
Above: title pages of 1887 and 1911 eds. of Drakhti Ěntanik, with portrait and opening page and portrait from 1893 ed.
Title: Vangoyzh: Kuzh Mi Jur Ar Im Ayrats Hayrenik = Վանգոյժ: Կուժ Մի Ջուր Առ Իմ Այրած Հայրենիք [Bad News from Van: A Jug of Water to My Burnt Homeland]

Publication Information: Tipkhis: Martiroseants, 1877

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Vahe Tashjian (1877 ed.)

This tiny book takes the form of Khrimian’s conversation with his birthplace Van and describes the burning of the Armenian district in 1876, along with his hopes for the future: “You love light and sun, people! The light and sun will revive you! Your burnt land will become a meadow. The moon will be surprised to see how sons of the Artsrunian that were killed by violence are decorated with new eagle feathers.”
From the 1877 ed. of Vangoyzh
Title: Sirak‘ ew Samuel: bari hōr krt‘akan daser = Սիրաք եւ Սամուէլ: բարի հօր կրթական դասեր [Sirak and Samuel: Educational Classes of the Good Father]

Publication Information: K. Polis: Tparan S. Gh. Partizpanean ew ěnk., 1878; Vagharshapat: tparan Mayr At‘oroy Surb Ējmiatsni, 1902

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Haroutiun Kazazian (1878 ed.); from the collection of the Hairenik Association (1902 ed.)

In this book, Sirak the father passes all his experience, advice, and lessons to his son Samuel. In the preface, Khrimian Hayrik noted “After the FAMILY OF PARADISE, my new work Sirak and Samuel, which I wrote for Armenian fathers, I dedicate again to you, Armenian people. The subject and content of which are the educational lessons of my worldly life, which the good father Sirak passes to his matured son Samuel.”
Title: Papik ew T‘ornik = Պապիկ եւ Թոռնիկ [Grandfather and Grandson]

Publication Information: Ejmiatsin: I Mayr At'or Araratean Srboy Ējmiatsni, 1894

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Haroutiun Kazazian

This book was republished several times after the first edition of 1894. It adopts for the format of a grandfather talking with his grandson about different aspects of life and introducing the traditions, meanings, and the importance of national values. Through this book, Khrimian addresses all Armenian children and wants to awaken a national identity and to convey the importance of the land.
Title: Zhamanak ew Khorhurd iwr = Ժամանակ եւ խորհուրդ իւր [Time and Its Mysteries]

Publication Information: Tpkhis: Tparan M. Sharadzēi, 1895; K. Polis: Hratarakich V. ew P. Zardarean eghbark, 1909.

NAASR Mardigian Library; from the collection of Hagop and Hamest Atamian (1909 ed.).

This book is a message to youth about contemporary political and societal events, first published in 1895 and republished several times.
Title: Haygoyzh: Ashkharank‘ Hayots‘ Ashkharhin = Հայգոյժ Աշխարանք Հայոց Աշխարհին [Bad News from Armenia: Lament for the Armenian Land]

Publication Information: K. Polis: Tpagr. H. Asaturean, 1908

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of the Hairenik Association

This book was first published in 1877 and republished several times. Khrimian Hayrik, in the form of a letter to his close compatriot Mr. Hambardzum Adjemian, addresses the young generation to inform them about Armenia and Armenians.
Title: Tsragir Barenorogmants‘ = Ծրագիր Բարենորոգմանց [Reform Program]

Publication Information: K. Polis: H.G. P'alagashean, 1909

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Haroutiun Kazazian

The pamphlet Tsragir Barenorogmants‘ presents a reform program for Kurds. According to the introduction, Khrimian wrote this in 1876. It is interesting to note that it was published after the Ottoman constitutional revolution of 1908.
Title: Khōskʻ hrazharman Khrimean S. Patriarkʻi Hayotsʻ azgayin erespʻokhanakan zhoghovoy 64rd patmakan nistin mēj: or teghi unetsʻaw 1873 Ōgostos 3-in Խօսք հրաժարման Խրիﬔան Ս. Պատրիարքի Հայոց ազգային երեսփոխանական ժողովոյ 64րդ պատմական նիստին մէջ որ տեղի ունեցաւ 1873 Օգոստոս 3-ին [Message of Resignation of His Eminence Khrimian, Patriarch of the Armenians, in the 64th historical session of the National Representative Assembly, which was held on August 3, 1873]

Publication Information: K. Polis: Tparan ew gratun Nshan-Papikean, 1910

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Khachadoor Pilibosian

Khrimian Hayrik served as Patriarch of Constantinople from 1869 to 1873. He resigned due to pressure from the Ottoman government which saw him as a threat. This publication presents the text of his resignation speech on August 3, 1873.
Title: The Meeting of the Kings
Publication Information: London: William Clowes and Sons, 1915

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Torkom Boyajian

This is a bilingual version of T‘agaworats‘ zhoghov (Թագաւորաց ժողով), originally written in 1900. This edition was prepared by Bedros Donabedian (Petros Tonapetean) and English poet Laurence Binyon, best known for his World War I elegy “For the Fallen”.

In the introduction Petros Tonapetian described his acquaintance with Khrimian Hayrik: “One day he handed me a manuscript, saying: ‘This cannot be published now in Russia. Take it to your free England; peradventure you will one day publish it there.’
Collections of Khrimian Hayrik’s Works
Title: Amboghjakan Erker = Ամբողջական Երկեր
Publication Information: New York: Kochnak tparan, 1929
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Avedis A. Derounian
Title: Khrimyan Hayrik Erker = Խրիմյան Հայրիկ Երկեր
Publication Information: Erevan: Erevani Hamalsarani Hratarakchut’yun, 1992
NAASR Mardigian Library, gift of Rose Aznavorian
Other publications on Khrimian Hayrik:
Author: S. M. Tsots‘ikean = Ս.Մ. Ծոցիկեան
Title: Hayots‘ Hayrik: ir vakhchanman tasnameakin art'iw = Հայոց Հայրիկ : իր վախճանման տասնաﬔակին առթիւ
Publication Information: Frezno: Tparan “Nor Keank” Lragroy, 1917
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Gilbert Abcarian
Author: T‘. E. G. [Tʻorgom Gushakean] = Թ.Ե.Գ
Title: Khrimean Hayrik: ir tsnndean hariwrameakin art‘iw = Խրիﬔան Հայրիկ: իր ծննդեան հարիւրաﬔակին առթիւ
Publication Information: P‘ariz: Gegharuestakan tparan, 1925
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Haroutiun Kazazian
Author: Hayk Achemean = Հայկ Աճէմեան
Title: Hayots Hayrik: Nuagogh Vshtits‘ Hayreneats‘ Hayots‘ = Հայոց Հայրիկ: Նուագող Վշտից Հայրենեաց Հայոց
Publication Information: T'awriz: Atrpatakani Hayotsʻ Tʻemakan Tparan, 1927
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Ervant Der Megerditchian
Author: G. Giwzalean = Գ. Գիւզալեան
Title: Khrimean Hayrik: gaghapʻarneri ashkharhě
= Խրիﬔան Հայրիկ: գաղափարների աշխարհը
Publication Information: Pēyrut: Tparan Hamazgayin Ěnkerut'ean, 1954
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of the Hairenik Association
Title: Amenayn Hayots‘ Hayrik = Ամենայն Հայոց Հայրիկ
Publication Information: Post‘ěn: Tparan “Hayrenik‘”i, 1957
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Ani and George Bournoutian
Editor: Andranik L. Pʻolatean = Անդրանիկ Լ. Փոլատեան
Title: Khrimean Hayrik (Mahuan 50-rd tarelitsin art‘iw) = Խրիմեան Հայրիկ (Մահուան 50-րդ տարելիցին առթիւ)
Publication Information: New York: Hratarakut‘iwn Khrimean Hayriki Mahuan Hisnameaki Tonakatarut‘ean Kedr. Handznakhumbi, 1957
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Harry & Araxie Kolligian
Author: Sion [Manukean] Ark‘episkopos = Սիոն Արքեպիսկոպոս
Title: Hayots‘ Hayrik (1820-1907): Mahuan Hisnameakin Art‘iw = Հայոց Հայրիկ (1820-1907): Մահուան Յիսնամեակին Առթիւ
Publication Information: P. Ayrēs, 1957
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Dickran Boyajian
Title: Hayrig: A Celebration of His Life and Vision on the Eightieth Anniversary of His Death (1907-1987)
Publication Information: New York: Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, 1987
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Ani and George Bournoutian
Editor: Sandro Bēhbudean = Սանդրո Բէհբուդեան
Title: Vaweragrer Hay Ekeghets‘u Patmut‘ean; Girk‘ Ē [7]: Khrimean Hayrikě ew Ts‘arakan Brnapetut‘iwně (1903-1907t‘t‘.) = Վաւերագրեր Հայ Եկեղեցու Պատմութեան Գիրք Է Խրիմեան Հայրիկը եւ Ցարական Բռնապետութիւնը (1903-1907թթ.)
Publication Information: Yerevan, 2000
NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Ani and George Bournoutian
Chronology of Mkrtich Khrimian Hayrik
1820 April 4, born in Van
1847 Teacher in Constantinople
1850 Hrawirak Araratean= Հրաւիրակ Արարատեան (Constantinople)
        Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
1851 Hrawirak yerkrin avetieats‘ = Հրաւիրակ երկրին աւետեաց (Constantinople)
1852 Visits Cilicia
1853 Returns to Van
1854 Ordained Vardapet in Aghtamar
1855 Returns to Constantinople and begins publishing the periodical Artsui Vaspurakan = Արծուի Վասպուրական
1856 Returns to Van as the prior of the Varak Monastery
1858 Artsui Vaspurakan resumes publication in Van, becoming the first newspaper issued in Historic Armenia (1858-64)
1860 Visits Armenian communities in the Caucasus
1863 Begins publishing Artswik Tarōnoy=Արծւիկ Տարօնոյ in Mush (1863-65)
1866 Travels to Constantinople
         Margarit Ark‘ayut‘ean Erknits‘ = Մարգարիտ Արքայութեան Երկնից (Constantinople)
1868 Consecrated as Bishop in Etchmiadzin
1869 Elected Patriarch of Constantinople
1873 Resigns from the office of Patriarch
1876 Hisusi verjin shabatʻ Khachi char ew koruselots himarutiwn = Յիսուսի վերջին շաբաթ Խաչի ճառ եւ կորուսելոց յիմարութիւն (Constantinople)
1876 Zhamanak ew khorhurd iwr = Ժամանակ եւ խորհուրդ իւր (Constantinople)
1876 Drakhti ěntanik‘= Դրախտի ընտանիք
1876 Margarit Ark‘ayut‘ean Erknits‘ Hisusi Vardapetut‘ean Hamarōt daser = Մարգարիտ Արքայութեան Երկնից Յիսուսի Վարդապետութեան Համառօտ դասեր [The Pearl of the Heavenly Kingdom: Summary of the Doctrine of Jesus] (Constantinople)
1877 Vangoyzh = Վանգոյժ (Constantinople)
1877 Haygoyzh = Հայգոյժ (Constantinople)
1878 Represents Armenians at the Berlin Conference
1878 Sirak‘ ew Samuel = Սիրաք եւ Սամուէլ (Constantinople)
1879 Elected Prelate of Van
1885 Returns to Constantinople
1890 Exiled to Jerusalem
1892 May 5, Elected Catholicos of All Armenians
1893 September 26, Anointed Catholicos
1894 Papik ew tornik = Պապիկ եւ թոռնիկ (Vagharshapat)
1895 Visits the Tsar in St. Petersburg
1898 Establishes the American Diocese of the Armenian Church
1900 T‘agaworats‘ zhoghov = Թագաւորաց ժողով (written, but not published until 1915)
1901 Verjaloysi dzayner = Վերջալոյսի ձայներ (Cairo)
1902 Oghbats‘ogh Khorenats’in I hAshtishat ew hOshakan = Ողբացող Խորենացին ի յԱշտիշատ եւ յՕշական (Vagharshapat)
1903 Defies the Tsarist government in the matter of the confiscation of the estates belonging to the Armenian Church
1904 Sends a delegation to Europe and the United States
1907 Sends a delegation to the Hague Peace Conference and the King of England
1907 October 29, passes away in Etchmiadzin
1909 Tsragir barenorogmants‘ = Ծրագիր Բարենորոգմանց (Constantinople)
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