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Where Armenian Architecture and Worship Meet. A Presentation by Prof. Christina Maranci on September 25

Sculpted images on the exterior of the 7th century Armenian Cathedral of Mren may reveal more than meets the eye.

Sculpted images on the exterior of the 7th century Armenian Cathedral of Mren may reveal more than meets the eye.

The distinguished expert in Armenian Art and Architecture, Professor Christina Maranci, will present an illustrated lecture at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, September 25 at 7PM entitled, The Great Outdoors: Liturgical Encounters with the Early Armenian Church.

Dr. Maranci is the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara T. Ozetemel Associate Professor of Armenian Art at Tufts University.

She will present the results of recent research on the exterior structure and decoration of certain medieval Armenian churches. Maranci believes that the intricate carved images and the epigraphic writings that adorn the exterior walls of many Armenian Churches were not produced simply to beautify the buildings. Instead, she suggests that the Armenian architects and artisans were guided by liturgical services that took place outside the church. Maranci supports her view with Armenian hymns and rituals found in medieval Armenian liturgical books.

This coordinated study of architecture and liturgy provides a potential material setting for liturgical texts, suggests new interpretations of the relief sculpture, and offers insight into the medieval experience of the Armenian Church.

Prof. Christina Maranci is an expert on medieval Armenian architecture.

Prof. Christina Maranci is an expert on medieval Armenian architecture.

Prof. Maranci received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in the Department of Art and Archaeology in 1998. She has lectured and published widely, particularly in the area of Armenian architecture. Her books include Medieval Armenian Architecture: Constructions of Race and Nation (Peeters, 2001), and Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia (Brepols, forthcoming). Her articles have appeared in the Revue des études arméniennes, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Gesta, the Journal for the Society of Architectural Historians, the Art Bulletin, the Oxford Companion to Architecture, and the Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages.

Her recent work on the Cathedral of Mren (Kars region, Eastern Turkey) led to the successful application for its inclusion in the World Monuments Fund Watch List for 2014-17. She is campaigning to increase awareness of the fragile condition of this significant monument and others in the Kars/Ani region.

2014 MaranciGreatOutdoorsFlyer.001CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

The lecture will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York. It is free and open to the public. A reception and refreshments will follow.

For more information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter #LiturgicalEncounters.

ZIC Schedule of Autumn Events

ZZohrab.001The Zohrab Information Center announces a wide-ranging and captivating schedule of educational programs for the Autumn season. Armenian and non-Armenian scholars and artists will present programs on Armenian architecture and liturgy, literature, film, poetry and the anticipated canonization of the martyrs of the Genocide by the Armenian Church.

The first program on Wednesday evening, September 10, will be the screening of the film Garod (Yearning) by the award-winning Armenian filmmaker Frunze Dovlatyan. The movie will be presented in Armenian with English subtitles and will be introduced by writer, translator and filmmaker Christopher Atamian, who will also lead a discussion following the movie.


All ZIC events take place at the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York, and are open to the public. Most presentations will be video-recorded and posted on this website within a day or two of the date of presentation.

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ZIC Goes to the Movies on Wednesday, September 10

Garod (Yearning) presents a brave look at issues such as nationalism, patriotism and the effects of the 1915 Genocide.

Garod (Yearning) presents a brave look at issues such as nationalism, patriotism and the effects of the 1915 Genocide.

The Zohrab Information Center launches its Autumn educational series on September 10 with a night at the movies. Featured will be the 1990 film Garod (Yearning) by the legendary Armenian director Frunze Dovlatyan.The film is a brave look at issues such as nationalism, patriotism and the effects of the 1915 Genocide on a village of Armenians on the Turkish-Armenian border.

The film is in Armenian with English subtitles.

The film will be introduced by leading writer, translator, journalist and filmmaker Christopher Atamian, who will also lead an open discussion about the film following its screening.

Award-winning Armenian filmmaker Frunze Dovlatyan

Award-winning Armenian filmmaker Frunze Dovlatyan

Frunze Dovlatyan is best known for his 1966 film Barev Yess Em, which was selected as the Soviet Union’s official submission to the Cannes Film Festival that year. Born in Gavar, Armenia, Dovlatyan was one of Armenia’s best-known directors. He studied at the Sundukyan Theater in Yerevan and headed Armenfilm Studio in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The 1990 film Garod reveals what happens when the yearning or nostalgia to return to one’s childhood village becomes irresistible. This exciting, informative and sometimes sad film also presents a fascinating look at the dark side of Soviet Armenia.

Noted New York filmmaker Christopher Atamian will introduce the film and lead a discussion.

Noted New York filmmaker Christopher Atamian will introduce the film and lead a discussion.

Chrisopher Atamian has written, lectured and taught extensively on film  at NYU, UConn Storrs, BAM and the Huffington Post, where he writes a blog on culture, the arts and current events. He is an alumnus of Harvard University, Columbia Business School and USC Film School. Among his many creative projects, he has begun a book of critical essays on Armenian film entitled Nationalism, Identity and Sexuality Film or: The Nostalgic Impulse. 

Atamian has spoken at the Zohrab Center and visits the ZIC frequently in the course of his creative work.

The event will take place in Guild Hall of the Diocese of the Armenian Church, 630 Second GarodAvenue, New York at 7PM on Wednesday, September 10. The film and discussion are open to the public. Donation is $5. Students with ID will be admitted free. Refreshments will be provided during and after the movie.


For further information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. #GarodYearning

A Light Shines in the West

2014 TorchPassedby Alexander Calikyan

The Armenian community in the United States of America has existed for more than a century. The Torch Was Passed: The Centennial History of the Armenian Church of America, a work edited by Christopher Hagop Zakian in celebration of the centennial history of the Armenian Church of America in 1998, tells the history of the Armenians in the land of freedom and opportunity, from humble and often distressing beginnings in 1898 to a hopeful and bright one hundred years later.

Improbable Beginnings

Zakian embarks on a detailed journey that has its roots in the little community of Armenians in Worcester, Massachusetts, who banded together to form the first Armenian Church of America, the Church of Our Savior. From this small and improbable starting point, Mr. Zakian tells of the spread of the faith of the Armenians across the country. For the Armenian community at this time, no one imagined a permanent diocese taking shape in the United States; as far as they were concerned, America was a pit stop for refugees before returning to the motherland again one day.

Trials and Tribulations

The developments of the coming century would change all of that. As Mr. Zakian writes, changing circumstances at home and abroad would forever change the destiny of the Armenians in America and shape their future. With Bishop Hovsep Sarajian chosen by the Armenian flock to serve as the first primate in the United States, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America was established in 1898. For the next 50 years, the young and fledgling diocese underwent numerous periods of trial, tribulation, and transformation on the path of coming to resemble, more or less, the Diocese that we have today. Notable events included coping with the emotional trauma of the Armenian Genocide, caring for countless refugees from Soviet Armenia, and fracturing from within, culminating in the assassination of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian.

Consolidation and Growth

Following years of relative peace and stability under Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America began to expand and prosper, forming organizations recognizable today, such as the ACYOA, the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and the construction of the St. Vartan Cathedral and diocesan headquarters in New York City. Indeed, with the ardent confidence and support exhibited by the newly-elected pontiff of the Armenian Apostolic Church in His Holiness Vasken I, the Armenian Church in America continued to increase in number of parishes, laypeople, and clergymen. Especially under the long primacy of Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America reached its peak of influence for the Armenian-American community. Mr. Zakian concludes his chronicle with a review of the diocese and its various activities and organizations under the tenure of the current primate, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and he looks to the future of the Armenian Church in America.

2014-07 Calikyan

Alexander Calikyan is an intern at the Zohrab Information Center.

Mr. Zakian’s work contains helpful appendices provided by contributing authors that supplement his narrative of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. The first two deal with the formation and history of the Western and Canadian Dioceses, respectively. The third appendix discusses the unique schism within the Armenian Church in America and its slow, painful progress towards reconciliation and hoped-for unity. The book is rounded out by a general chronology of the Armenian Church of America and a list of parishes of the Eastern Diocese. While it is clear that Mr. Zakian went to painstaking lengths to obtain and compile informative lists and histories of the various Armenian churches in America, he also narrates the story of the Armenians in the United States compellingly. Surely, this book not only serves as a history of our people, but reminds us of just how strong and tenacious the Armenian community is.

ALEXANDER CALIKYAN is a senior at the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) majoring in philosophy. He has been an intern at the Zohrab Center last summer and this summer.


VIDEO. Armenians in a Multicultural World. Dr. Roberta Ervine Delights and Challenges

Did you miss last week’s marvelous presentation at the Zohrab Center by Dr. Roberta Ervine? She read between the lines of the writings of the 12th-century Armenian monk Mkhitar Gosh and uncovered surprising insights for all who wonder whether Armenians have a future in our complex, multicultural world.

Enjoy the video.

VIDEO: Resisting the Darkness: The Story of an Islamized Armenian Family in Marzovan, Armenia 1915-1919.

Did you miss last Thursday’s ZIC lecture by Dr. Armen Marsoobian on Armenians who converted to Islam during the Genocide? We’ve posted it for you on YouTube. Enjoy.

Armenians in a Multicultural World. Monastic Insights on Armenian Identity and Faith. Lecture by Prof. Roberta Ervine.

2014-05 ArmenianIdentity


Armenian? American? Christian? Some combination of the above?

Most Armenians for most of history have lived as minorities in lands not their own. So the preservation of Armenian identity and the free practice of their ancestral Christian faith have been unavoidable challenges for Armenians in the past as they are for us today. But what is this Armenian identity that we seek to preserve? What does it look like? Is it an unchanging treasure or a living, evolving being? What are the boundaries between the Armenian expression of the Christian faith and the convictions of others Christians—indeed other people of faith—in our society today?

Dr. Roberta Ervine, Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary (New Rochelle, NY) will address these questions next Wednesday, June 4 at 7PM at the Zohrab Center in New York in a lecture entitled, “Living the Gospel of Christ in a Multicultural World: The Monastic Experience of Goshavank.”

Talk amongst yourselves: #ZICMkhitar

The monastery of Goshavank in central Armenia was named after the great monk Mkhitar "the Beardless"

The monastery of Goshavank in central Armenia was named after the great monk Mkhitar “the Beardless”

As it happens, the inescapable questions that come with living as Armenians in a pluralistic society are not new. They were pondered by a beardless monk named Mkhitar, who lived in the northern hinterlands of 12th century Armenia. What principles do we use to guide our thinking and behavior as people with multiple identities? How should we relate to others who are not like us? How do we want to distinguish ourselves as unique — or do we? Mkhitar’s responses to these questions are as fresh today as they were when he first spoke them.

The great intellectual Mkhitar, known as “Gosh” [the beardless] is best known for having codified Armenian law in a work called Datastanagirk. He also wrote a marvelous collection of fables—he was the Armenian Aesop—as well as prayers, sermons, a short chronicle and various theological works. He was also the teacher of a number of disciples who went on to become the most prominent historians and theologians of the thirteenth century.

Prof. Roberta Ervine

Professor Roberta Ervine is an expert in medieval Armenian literature and theology.

Roberta Ervine is a specialist in medieval Armenian authors and theology, and a much loved teacher to generations of students both in Jerusalem and at St. Nersess. She holds her PhD from Columbia University, where she studied with Profs. Nina Garsoïan, James Russell, and Very Rev. Fr. Krikor Maksoudian. Dissertation research led her to Jerusalem, where she lived in the Armenian Monastery of St. James as a disciple of His Grace Abp. Norayr Bogharian, curator of manuscripts. For sixteen of her twenty-one years in the Holy City, Prof. Ervine taught for the Holy Translators Academy; she also lectured for several other Jerusalem institutions, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2001 she returned to the United States to teach at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, where she lectures on topics related to the history of Armenian Christianity and Armenian Christian thought. She is the editor of the St. Nersess Theological Review.

Join Dr. Ervine on June 4 and be challenged by what one of Armenia’s great teachers has to say on social relationships, community identity and individual integrity. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710.



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