He was born as Ktrij Nersessian in Voskehat, Armenia, on August 21, 1951. He entered the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at Echmiadzin in 1965 and graduated with honors in 1971. He was ordained to the diaconate deacon in 1970. Later he became a monk and was ordained a celibate priest in 1972. In the late 1970s the Catholicos of that period encouraged him to study outside of Armenia. This led to him continuing his studies in Vienna, Bonn University, and Zagorsk, Russia. On October 23, 1983, he was consecrated bishop at Echmiadzin. He became an archbishop in 1992.
In 1988, he took an active role in helping his people overcome the Armenian earthquake. He has built a number of churches and schools. He also showed an interest in using modern technology and telecommunications to help the life of his churches as well as dealing with the legacies of the Soviet era. In 1999, he was elected Catholicos of All Armenians at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, succeeding His Holiness, Karekin I. His relations with Pope John Paul II were generally positive. When the Pope visited Armenia in 2001, he stayed with the Catholicos.
In 2006, Karekin made a weeklong visit to Istanbul, Turkey, to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and to bless the city's Armenian community. During his visit he caused some controversy by affirming the Armenian Genocide, which Turkey vehemently denies, and insisting on its recognition.
On October 10, 2007, he offered the opening prayer for the day's session of the United States House of Representatives.
His ecumenical trip to India to meet Baselios Thoma Didymos I, Catholicos of the East in November 2008, has strengthened the communion of Armenian and Indian Orthodox Churches.
- Official Website of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II & Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
- Catholicos Karekin II
- Encyclical from Catholicos Karekin II
|Catholicoi of the Holy See of St. Echmiadzin and All Armenians|