Vardan G. Devrikyan
Key words – Mkhitar Sebastatsi, Mekhitarist Congregation, St. Lazarus Island, Mikayel Chamchian, Songs (Psalms, սաղմոս) of the Patriarch, “Bazmavep”.
The creation of the Mekhitarist congregation in the 17th century was preceded by attempts to revive the traditions of the Armenian monastic life. Mkhitar Sebastatsi became one of the representatives of this movement. In the 1690s, having bypassed the monasteries in the territory of Armenia, he became convinced that it was impossible to create a congregation that would be able to carry out the tasks of the church-spiritual and scientific-cultural life set by reality itself under the unfavorable conditions of that time.
That is why he had to found a Catholic congregation in order to enlist the support of Rome. The congregation, founded in Constantinople in 1701, then it was transferred to Morea (Ancient Peloponnese) in 1703, and finally in 1717 it is settled on the island of St. Lazarus in Venice, where it operates till nowadays.
One of the main reasons for reason for choosing this place was the developped typography of Venice: it was one of the centers of printing in Europe. Here it was possible not only to print high-quality publications, but also to transport them by sea to Constantinople and Smyrna.
We have highlighted the work of the Mekhitarists in separate sections of this article and showed what fundamental researches they carried out in the field of linguistics, lexicography, historiography, historical geography of Armenia, which were subsequently printed with high quality.
A high-quality edition of bible was published, in which Armenian and Latin canons were compared. Original sources of numerous works of the Armenian and translated literature were compiled.
Mekhitarists also contributed to the creative development of the traditions of ancient Armenian literature, smoothly moving to classicism, and then to romanticism, which were given an accentuated national-patriotic orientation.