Armenian Jerusalem
                        The   Armenian   church   in   Jerusalem   is   perched   on   the   verge   of   a   new   era following    the    election    today    of    its    new    Patriarch,    the    97th    in    a    direct    line    of succession from Abraham, the first Armenian patriarch of the Holy City.                Abraham   was   a   contemporary   of   the   Arab   Caliph,   Omar   ibnul   Khattab,   who conquered   Jerusalem,   and   held   office   from   638   to   669   CE.   He   is   buried   within   a   few feet   of   the   entrance   to   the   ornate   cathedral   of   St   James,   where   the   new   incumbent, Archbishop   Nourhan   Manoogian,   was   led   in   a   solemn,   jubilant   procession   in   an   age-old church ceremony, by his fellow priests, members of the Brotherhood of St James.                They   had   come   from   various   parts   of   the   world   to   cast   their   votes   for   the   man they considered most fit to inherit the mantle of St James.                After   two   days   of   prayer,   deliberations   and   soul-searching,   and   the   narrowing   of the   field   to   two   contenders,   the   enclave   invested   the   future   of   the   2000   year   old Armenian    presence    in    Jerusalem,    into    the    hands    of    one    of    the    church's    most charismatic princes.                Manoogian,   who   until   his   election   had   been   the   Patriarchate's   Grand   Sacristan,   will succeed   the   late   patriarch,   Archbishop   Torkom   Manoogian   (no   relation)   who   passed away last year.                Armenians   all   over   the   world   regard   Jerusalem   as   their   second   most   significant and   profound   fount   of   spiritual   rejuvenation   and   reinforcement,   and   its   patriarchs have   traditionally   held   more   sway   in   universal   church   affairs   than   the   relatively   small number of their fold merited.                Among   their   forebears,   Armenian   patriarchs   number   the   illustrious   Gregory   Chain Bearer,   a   man   who   swung   a   chain   around   his   shoulders   and   vowed   never   to   remove   it, until the ominous debts of the Patriarchate had been settled in full.                The   Armenian   Patriarch's   role   in   Jerusalem   is   two-fold,   to   act   as   a   shepherd   for their   fold   and   at   the   same   time   take   on   the   role   of   one   of   the   three   main   Guardians of   the   Holy   Places.   (The   other   two   Guardians   are   the   Greek   Orthodox   church   and   the Latin Franciscan Custodia).                Manoogian,   who   was   born   in   Aleppo,   Syria   in   1948,   ascension   to   the   throne   of   St James   comes   at   one   of   the   most   crucial   interludes   in   the   chronicles   of   Jerusalem,   the immortal,    walled    city    that    is    surrounded    by    the    treacherous    moat    of    political machinations, tenuous security and economic uncertainty.                But   challenges   are   what   makes   the   man.   Endowed   with   an   imposing   demeanor,   a no-nonsense   attitude   and   an   uncompromising   defiance   against   any   threats   to   the Armenian    presence    in    this    city,    Manoogian    has    no    qualms    he    will    be    able    to perpetuate the legacy of such illustrious forebears as the Chain Bearer.                In   the   process,   he   will   bring   a   strong   measure   of   stability   to   an   institution   that   has seen more than its share of turbulence in recent years.     (Jerusalem, Jan 24, 2012)
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian