“I Confess with Faith”
St. Nerses IV the Gracious (1102 – 1173)
St. Nerses, cover page illustration, Mekhitarists’ printing house, Venice 1823
“Havadov Khosdovanim” in Mekhitarists’ publications
The Mekhitarists (in Armenian: Մխիթարեաններ) are a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church. It was founded in 1701 in Constantinople as a religious institute by the Armenian Catholic monk Mekhitar of Sebastea (1676 – 1749). In its initial inception, the foundation can be conceived as an attempted reform of monachism in the East.
In 1706, Mekhitar and his disciples moved to Morea (present day Peloponnese, Greece), a Venetian territory of that time, where they built a monastery in Modon (present day Methoni). In 1712 the order received papal approval, as a religious foundation under the Benedictine rule, and Mekhitar was appointed as abbot.
In 1715, the brotherhood migrated to Venice. In 1717, they were settled at the isle of San Lazaro, an islet located in the Venetian Lagoon. Mekhitar spent a lifetime working for the firm establishment of the foundation. In his honour, the members of the order are universally known as Mekhitarists. San Lazaro remains the headquarters of Mekhitarists’ congregation up to this date.
In 1773 a group of Mekhitarists established a new congregation in Trieste. In 1805, during the Napoleonic wars, the congregation moved in Vienna. They were sheltered in an old Capuchin convent in St. Ulrich. In 1837, they moved at Mechitaristengasse, where their premises remain until today. In the year 2000, on the 300th anniversary of the foundation, the Mekhitarists of Vienna and Venice were reunited in one order.
Mekhitarists are renowned for their series of scholarly publications on ancient Armenian and ancient Greek texts, which would otherwise have been lost. They have mastered the research on classical and modern Armenian language. The congregation has become one of the world’s most prominent centers of Armenian culture and Armenian studies. The Mekhitarists’ libraries in San Lazaro and in Vienna are housing precious collections of Armenian books and manuscripts.
For their publishing activity, at the begining of 18th century Mekhitarists relied on the printing works of the workshop of Antonio Bortoli already equipped for printing in Armenian characters. In 1729, thanks to the support of a benefactor, Mekhitarists bought the materials of the old printing house of Voskan Vardapet in Amsterdam, from which the first Armenian edition of the Bible was published in 1667, bringing them to San Lazaro and integrating them with new characters. Ever since, numerous important publications have been published. The Mekhitarists’ printing house in San Lazaro has been established as an early major center of Armenian typography.
The prayer in its authentic form was first published by the Mekhitarists’ printing house in San Lazaro, in 1790. Within the years 1823 – 1882, Mekhitarists published “Havadov Khosdovanim” translated into several languages. In 1823, the prayer was translated into 24 languages. Whilst, the 1837 edition was enriched with 3 more translations.
In 1862, “Havadov Khosdovanim” was translated into 33 languages. While, the 1882 edition introduced 3 more languages, raising the total number of translations up to 36. The 1882 publication is probably the most comprehensive collection of its kind, on which most of the recent publications are based.
1823 – Preces S. Niersis Clajensis Armeniorum Patriarchae
1837 – Preces Sancti Nersetis Clajensis Armeniorum Patriarchae
1862 – Preces Sancti Nersetis Clajensis Armeniorum Patriarchae
1882 – Preces Sancti Nersetis Clajensis Armeniorum Patriarchae
“Havadov Khosdovanim” cover page, Mekhitarists’ printing house, Venice 1862