ARCHBISHOP STEPANOS ARGUTYAN
1832-1836 (Years of Leadership)
In 1832, there were two candidates for the position of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia; a) Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan and b) Archbishop Zakharia Gulaspian.
Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan was elected as the Primate of Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia, and Archbishop Zakharia Gulaspian was elected as the Vicar of the Diocese in Yerevan.
However, Archbishop Zakharia Gulaspian was not satisfied with his appointment and, as an old supporter of Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi, Catholicos of All Armenians; he managed to take under his control, the Haghpat Monastery, in Armenia. Then he went to Tbilisi, and with the support of the powerful Prince Grigor Behrutyan, he proposed the separation of Ghazakh and Borchalu regions from the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia, and their subsequent inclusion in Haghpat Monastery. However, he was met with stiff opposition from Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan and consequently, Archbishop Zakharia Gulaspian’s ambitious plan met with a grand failure.
In 1835, Stepanos Argutyan was consecrated as a Bishop and later he was granted the title of Archbishop.
Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan, during the four years of his governance, had to endure considerable psychological pressure from Archbishop Zakharia Gulaspian, Prince Grigor Behrutyan and from Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi, Catholicos of All Armenians.
Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi, Catholicos of All Armenians, was strongly opposed to the ideas, views and philosophy of Archbishop Nerses Ashtaraketsi. Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi was trying to use Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan with the objective of changing the name of the Nersisyan Theological School of Tbilisi, which had been established by Archbishop Nerses Ashtaraketsi, and to rename it as the “Echmiadzin College of Tbilisi”. Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi, Catholicos of All Armenians, was so opposed to Archbishop Nerses Ashtaraketsi that he also intended to put on sale the entire school building in order to entirely obliterate the name of Archbishop Nerses Ashtaraketsi. Nevertheless, the supporters of Archbishop Nerses Ashtaraketsi insisted on his public speech against Hovhannes VIII Karbetsi, but the great clergyman reassured them saying: “If you perceive the good from God, why not tolerate the evil from people?”
In 1835, Archbishop Zaqaria Gulaspian passed away.
In 1836, Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan moved to Yerevan, and with this, the issue came to a close. (Ormanyan “Azgapatum” (National History), article 2507).
A three-storied residence of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia was built in Tbilisi by the order of Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan.
Archbishop Stepanos Argutyan donated to Sanahin Monastery, Armenia, the relics of Saint Grigor Aghvantsi, Catholicos of All Armenians (Archimandrite Sargis Jalalyan “Travelling” v.1, Tpkhis, 1842, p. 52).