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Karekin I (Cilicia)

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His Holiness Karekin I (Armenian: Գարեգին Ա. Հովսեփյան ) (17 December 1867, Nagorno-Karabakh - 21 June 1952, Beirut) was Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church from 1943-1952.

Born Garegin Hovsepian and originally from Artsakh, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1909. In 1917 he was ordained bishop, though this did not keep him from participating in the Battle of Sardarapat (1918) and Battle of Kars (1921).

He served as Primate of the Diocese of Crimea and Nor Nakhichevan (in Russia), and in 1933 when dissension arose causing a split in the Armenian Church in America, Bishop Garegin was sent by Catholicos Khoren I as special nuncio to mediate this problem. He arrived in 1936, and though unsuccessful won admiration for his leadership from all sides. He was later elected Primate of the Armenian Diocese of America.

When the See of Great House of Cilicia became vacant he was elected to it in 1943, though due to difficulties in traveling from America to Lebanon brought on by World War II he was unable to physically take up the position until 1945.

He made the Cilician See a center for religious and cultural activities and made it a center for diasporan Armenians. Shortly after his death in 1952, Neshan Sarkissian was ordained a priest and took the name of Karekin in the late Catholicos's honor. He later became Catholicos Karekin II of Cilicia and then Catholicos Karekin I of All Armenians.

Preceded by
Bedros IV of Cilicia
Catholicoi of the Holy See of Cilicia
Succeeded by
Zareh I

Source: Avakian, Arra S. (1998). Armenia: A Journey Through History. The Electric Press, Fresno.

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