ARCHBISHOP HOVHANNES KARBETSI

31830-1831 (Years of Leadership)

Archbishop Hovhannes Karbetsi was born in 1762 in Hovhannavank, a small village, which was a part of Karbi village. He studied in the school of Mughni Monastery, then in the Seminary of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. He was ordained as a celibate priest when the Catholicos of All Armenians was Ghukas I Karnetsi.

In 1807, he was consecrated as Bishop by Daniel I Surmaretsi, Catholicos of All Armenians, and was appointed to serve as a Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia. During the period of his leadership, as the Primate of the Diocese, he tried to decrease the influence of Archbishop Nerses Ashtaraketsi and thus reduce the significance of his activities.

In 1831, he was elected and consecrated as Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. He gave acceptance to the principle of determining the historical numbering of the Armenian Catholicoses.

In 1836, he adopted the “Polozhenie” published by the Russian government. “Polozhenie” was a charter-document regulating the relations between the Armenian Church and the State, which considerably reduced the status of the Armenian Church, deprived it of its possessions, schools and properties. This provoked the indignation of the Armenians and the Armenian Church. Nevertheless, the “Polozhenie” continued to be in use until the year 1917. Despite these problems faced by the Armenian Church, the Armenian Church continued to exist, at the same time succeeding to record certain positive outcomes in the spiritual and cultural life of Armenians. On the contrary, Russia was trying to significantly reduce the political role of the Armenian Church inside the country and to use the authority of the Catholicosate of All Armenians to influence Armenians living in Russia and abroad. In those days, Russia even had the right to ratify the election of the Catholicos of All Armenians. 

Karbetsi died on March 26, 1842 in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, where he was buried near the northern wall of the bell tower of the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. Dedicated to the memory of Karbetsi are the building of the Synod in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin (Encyclopedia “Soviet Armenia” and Ormanyan “Azgapatum” (National History), article 2334).

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