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Fall 2018 at the Zohrab Information Center

Following the excitement surrounding the election of the previous director, V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, as the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America and a reduced schedule during the summer months, the Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the Fall 2018 presentation schedule under the direction of its new Director, Dr. Christopher Sheklian.

This Fall, there are two exciting events in the lives of Armenians in America and in New York, and the Zohrab Information Center is thrilled to build programming around them.

The St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, consecrated on April 28, 1968, is celebrating its 50th anniversary (you can read about the history of the cathedral here). An entire series of lectures and presentations has been built around this landmark celebration. These talks will often take place in the cathedral building itself, addressing topics such as the art and architecture of the building, the Armenian service for the consecration of a church, and medieval Armenian commentaries on churches. We invite you to join us as we learn more about this beautiful church building in the heart of Manhattan and about the connection between the physical and spiritual in the Armenian Church.

Opening on September 21, 2018 (the anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia), the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Armenia!, a major exhibition of Armenian art and artifacts. Curated by Dr. Helen Evans (you can watch an interview with Dr. Evans about the exhibit here), it will feature some 140 Armenian works of art from around the globe—among them an item from the Zohrab Center’s own collection: an edition of the oldest printed Armenian bible. During the Fall, the Zohrab Information Center will present lectures by scholars who have contributed to the exhibition catalogue.

In addition to these two series of presentations, keep your eyes out for Book Events, readings groups, and more organized this Autumn by the Zohrab Information Center. Below is the current Fall Presentation Schedule (subject to change):

My Story: Hagop Vartanian (1873-1950)                                                                September 28, 2018 (Friday)                                                                                    Join us for this book talk, the published diary of Hagop Vartanian, which offers a unique perspective on the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Vartanian was already in America during the Genocide, and his diary provides details about his earlier migration and the anguish he felt as the horrors of Genocide touched his family even as he was thousands of miles away. Presented in conjunction with a pilgrimage to the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral by parishioners from the St. James Armenian Church in Evanston, descendants of Mr. Vartanian will be present to introduce the book and the remarkable story of the diary. Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan will read excerpts.

Holy Building, Holy Place: The Breath of Faith and Worship in St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral                                                                                                     Fr. Garabed Kochakian                                                                                                  October 11, 2018 (Thursday)                                                                                    The inaugural presentation in our St. Vartan Cathedral series, this presentation by Fr. Garabed Kochakian, pastor emeritus of St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, MI and expert in Armenian spiritual art will provide an overview of the church art and architecture of the Armenian Church, with an emphasis on the beautiful carved doors of the cathedral.

The Glorious House: Armenian Church Architecture and the Rite of Foundation   Dr. Christina Maranci                                                                                                     November 2, 2018 (Friday) 5:30 PM *NOTE EARLY TIME                                           As part of our St. Vartan Cathedral series, Dr. Christian Maranci, the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Professor of Armenian Art and Architecture at Tufts University, will present new work on the service of the dedication of an Armenian church.

“Made by These Unworthy Hands”: The Armenian Silversmiths of Kayseri           Dr. Sylvie Merian                                                                                                    November 13, 2018 (Tuesday)     NEW DATE!!                                                             In conjunction with the Armenia! exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dr. Sylvie Merian of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City will present on one of the topics in the catalogue of the Armenia! exhibit to which she contributed, the beautiful silver artifacts made by Armenians from the city of Kayseri (Caesarea).

Armenian Commentaries on the Church Building (Tentative Title)                       Dr. Roberta Ervine                                                                                                          December 6, 2018 (Thursday) (Subject to Change)                                                     In the final presentation of our St. Vartan Cathedral series, Dr. Roberta Ervine, Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, will discuss previously untranslated medieval Armenian commentaries on the physical church structure.


Get an Advance Peek at the Met Museum’s “Armenia!” Exhibit

The much anticipated “Armenia!” exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is still months away. But visitors to the Eastern Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center will receive a sneak peak of its wonders, courtesy of the exhibit curator, on Thursday, May 31.

That night, the distinguished scholar Dr. Helen C. Evans will deliver an illustrated presentation giving details of the exhibit, and offering some behind-the-scenes background on how it came to be.

As curated by Dr. Evans (the museum’s Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator for Byzantine Art), Armenia! will cover Armenian art from the 4th to 17th centuries, with special emphasis on Armenia’s significance to the world during the Middle Ages. It will open on September 21, 2018—the 27th anniversary of the Republic of Armenia’s independence—and will run through January 13, 2019.

It will feature some 140 Armenian works of art from around the globe—among them an item from the Zohrab Center’s own collection: an edition of the oldest printed Armenian bible.

Dr. Evans talk will take place on Thursday, May 31, at 7 p.m., in Guild Hall of the Diocesan Center (630 Second Avenue, at 35th Street, New York City).

New Diocesan Primate the Very Reverend Fr. Daniel Findikyan will preside over the occasion and host the evening.

The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow. For information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710. Click here to view a flyer.

Book Presentation for Thursday Has Been Cancelled

Due to unforeseen circumstances the Book Presentation originally scheduled for this Thursday, May 10 has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The next ZIC event is scheduled for Thursday, May 31 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese.

Dr. Helen Evans, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will present a “Sneak Peak” in advance of the major exhibit of Armenian art opening this Fall at the Met entitled, Armenia!

Details will be forthcoming.

At the Glorious Tomb of the Lord: A Poem for Holy Week by Khrimian Hayrig

ResurrectionThe following splendid reflection on the Passion of the Lord has been excerpted and translated from the epic poem by Khrimian Hayrig (Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian, 1820-1907) entitled Հրաւիրակ Երկրին Աւետեաց, roughly translated, Invitation to the Land of the Gospel.

The monumental meditation was composed in 1850 while Khrimian was a young deacon on his first pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The epic consists of seven “songs” that were indeed intended to be sung, as Khrimian relates in the introduction to the book. Sitting in his tiny cell facing the Mount of Olives to the East, he writes— 

One day while I was busy writing and singing a melody—for without singing it, a song has no spirit—suddenly the assiduous, late Patriarch Hovhannes came and stood at the door of my room. “I heard your voice, Deacon Mkrtich. What are you singing and writing?”

I said ,”Srpazan, I’m writing an Invitation to the Land of the Gospel.”

“Whom are you inviting?,” he asked.

“Young people and all Armenians, my spiritual father,” I answered.

“Write! Write! God bless you! Invite them! Call them!,” the Patriarch called out. “Let the fervent Armenian people make an oath to come to Jerusalem…”

The passage below is taken from the Sixth Song, a profound meditation on Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” known in Armenian as the “Discourse of the Cross” in John 13-17. Faithful to the ancient manner of Biblical exegesis and preaching, the Catholicos sees the passion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as a single, indivisible reality, which is reflected like a prism in other stories and episodes throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The sorrow of Christ’s passion and death is never isolated from the triumphant joy of his resurrection. 

The Zohrab Center holds two precious copies of Khrimian Hayrig’s epic in its second edition, published in Jerusalem in 1892. The text is also available online. The subtitles are not part of the original text.


that gave the great news to the shepherds at your birth,
The same one spoke at dawn, shouting to the watchful women—
It was not the young men who first heard it, but the daughters of Eve:
“He has risen! Why do you seek among the dead the One who lives?
Why do you weep bitterly for him, who wiped away mankind’s tears?”
Let the disconsolate anguish of your hearts turn to joyfulness!
The dew-like streams that fell from your eyes at the Cross will be wiped away.


Mary the bereaved mother, her heart stabbed as if with a sword—
Her piercing wounds were healed by the resurrection of her Son.
He did not allow Mary Magdalene to kiss him. Would he spare his mother’s kiss?
When the scattered flock of sheep was beaten along with the Good Shepherd,
With the Good News to Mary, coming together again as one,
All were filled with joy, their spirits bloated with hope.
She recalled there the Teacher’s earlier discourse—
“Although I have been willingly betrayed into the hands of those odious people,
I will die innocent and they will place me in a tomb.
Yet after three days I will rise, I will stand up alive,
With miraculously renewed youth, I will be newly restored like an eagle.
As the early dawn’s light spreads out, for a moment I will be covered in the lap of the earth.
After three days buried, toward Himself he will gather this shoot.”


And again the radiant Sun rose from the tomb.
A new, exuberant dawn broke over of the universe.
Darkness, a world-engulfing shadow was dispelled and chased away,
Like Jonah, that prophet who fled,
The Lord lived in the heart of the Earth and entered the belly of a sea-dragon,
Its cavernous mouth gaping wide to devour the world, teeth shining like spiked swords,
“Ha!” it said. “I caught him! The Son of Man tumbled into my mouth!”
But it could not hold on to him. Its sharp teeth were crushed.
The One he held in his belly was the swallowed spirit of Adam.
Quickly he spat him out of the deep womb of hell
Because he did not find in the New Adam the sins of old Adam,
In whom he had poured the poison of death, and whose entire progeny he had killed.
Like a fisherman, using his ingenious little virgin bait, the Father
Cast his hook into the sea of death and caught there the great monster.
He slashed its deep chin and pulled out its spirit, alive and well.

By the word of the one who saw it, he swore to himself
One day, alive, to touch this lower realm of our earth.
Behold his most powerful right arm extended, the Word from above
Touched and seized the great dragon, the Slanderer.
He crushed his head and threw him over half-dead.
The spirits of the saints rejoiced. They kissed the Savior’s right hand.
They cried out, “Blessed is the Father. Blessed is the Son. Blessed is your saving arm.
You slew our great adversary, who never ceased to blame us.
He antagonized the righteous and wouldn’t let us be with you.”
Now that we are freed from the darkness, take us to the Father’s luminous home.
For you said, “Where I am, there my servants will also be.”
The lion cub triumphed over Judas’ lineage.
An awesome voice roared. The depths of Hell shuttered.
The Lord has woken as if from sleep. He who slept in the heart of the earth is awake.
Having drunk wine at the Cross, he spilled it from himself like a giant.
In his death he shut his eyes for an instant, as if in sleep.
Will he not henceforth do even more when he rises up? Read more…

Soldier of the Light: The Aspirations of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian. TUNE IN THIS SATURDAY

HovsepiantsThis Saturday, March 24 the Zohrab Center and St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will co-host an extraordinary gathering of speakers to examine the multi-faceted life and contributions of the one of the greatest Armenian leaders in modern times, Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.

All are welcome to attend the free daylong symposium at the Seminary in Armonk, New York. Those planning to attend are asked to contact St. Nersess at (914) 273-0200. Space is limited.

The event will be live-streamed. CLICK HERE to join in remotely.

Download the day’s schedule of speakers and topics HERE.

Saluting a “Soldier of the Light” March 24 at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary

1767_001The Zohrab Information Center and St. Nersess Seminary will co-sponsor a day-long symposium dedicated to the life and vision of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian, a true titan among the Armenian people in modern times.

The symposium is titled, Soldier of the Light: The Aspirations of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.” It marks the 150th anniversary of Hovsepian’s birth and the centennial of the Battle of Sardarabad (in which he fought). It will take place on Saturday, March 24, at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 486 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY.

Speakers include Dr. Abraham Terian, Dr. Roberta Ervine, Dr. Christine Maranci, Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, and Mr. Nubar Kupelian. V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center and Professor at St. Nersess Seminary, will moderate. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside.

A Man of Staggering Accomplishments Abounding in Grace 

HovsepiantsBefore being elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian (1867-1952) served as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America during the turbulent years following the assassination of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian in New York in 1933. Born in Artsakh, Armenia, he earned graduate degrees from the best universities in Europe, encouraged the Armenian troops on the front lines of the Battle of Sardarabad, chaired the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Yerevan State University, led pioneering archaeological expeditions in western Armenia, published learned books on the art of medieval Armenian manuscript illumination, and previously obscure chapters in Armenian history, and inspired countless people through his preaching and teaching. Through it all Hovsepian tirelessly summoned his flock to rise up from pettiness and division, and to embrace the dignity, richness, and eternal values of Christian life as embodied in Armenian art, culture and history and above all, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church.

On this occasion a volume of selected essays and sermons by the Catholicos, translated for the first time into English by Dr. Ervine and Fr. Findikyan, has been published. Those present for the symposium will receive a complimentary copy of Toward Light and Life: Reflections of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.

The March 24 conference starts at 10:30 a.m. (10 a.m. check-in) and concludes at 4 p.m., with a light lunch served at midday. The symposium and lunch are free and open to all interested.

Please contact St. Nersess Seminary at (914) 273-0200 to reserve your seat. SPACE IS LIMITED.

The event has is generously underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. Berge and Vera Setrakian.

Join the ZIC Book Club on the 85th Anniversary of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

2018-4 MusaDagh.001Have you always wanted to read Franz Werfel’s 1933 masterpiece, but haven’t had the chance? Were you inspired by the film The Promise to learn more about what happened on a mountain named Musa Dagh in 1915?

On the occasion of the landmark historical novel’s 85th anniversary, you are invited to join the Zohrab Center’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh Book Club on Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Aida Zilelian, Elaine Merguerian, Haig Chahinian, Harry Koumrouyan, and Nancy Agabian will recite brief excerpts from the book and explain how the text resonated with them.


Franz Werfel  author of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

Others wishing to share their own responses to the book will be invited to step up to the OPEN MIC. Each participant will be limited to 3 minutes.

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh was written by the Austrian-Bohemian Jewish playwright, novelist and poet Franz Werfel in German in 1933.  The historical novel was inspired by Werfel’s travels to Syria in 1930, where he met countless Armenian refugee survivors of the Genocide, most of them living in wretched, hopeless conditions. The acclaimed novel brought world-wide attention to the Armenian Genocide.

Musa Dagh (Mountain of Moses) is located just inside the current border of Turkey and Syria overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In July 1915, six Armenian villages in the region mounted a successful resistance to the attacking Turkish army by converging on the mountain. The Armenians held back the Turks for 53 days until they were evacuated by Allied French warships. The event is depicted at the end of 2018-4 MusaDagh.001the recent Genocide film, The Promise.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

The ZIC’s Forty Days of Musa Dagh Book Club grew out of a group of New York area Armenian writers who came together recently, guided by NYU Gallatin Professor Nancy Agabian and writer Haig Chahinian, to read and discuss The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Energized by the portrayal of their people fighting back during the Genocide, they talked about how Franz Werfel’s novelization touched them individually, and as a whole.

All are encouraged to read or re-read The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and to share their thoughts and reflections on the book on April 12. Those wishing to speak are asked to contact Haig Chahinian at to sign up and/or to receive tips on reading the work. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow.


Nancy Agabian

Nancy Agabian is the author of Princess Freak, a poetry collection; and Me as her again, a memoir. Her novel The Fear of Large and Small Nations was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially-Engaged Fiction. A past ZIC speaker and friend, Nancy teaches creative writing at NYU and through her Heightening Stories workshops.

Haig Chahinian’s writing on parenting, race, and life as he knows it has appeared in The Washington Post, O The Oprah Magazine, and the New York Times. For clips, see When he’s not churning out words, he runs a career counseling practice helping people find more fulfillment at work.

Harry Koumrouyan was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, from parents who fled the Ottoman Empire. He started his career as a teacher before joining the administration


Haig Chahinian

first as a school principal and later as the head of HR. He has written two novels in French, where the Armenian theme plays an important role. He has one son, Adrien, age 28.

Elaine Merguerian is Communications Director at Asia Society, where she promotes the organization’s arts and cultural programming. Before settling in New York, she worked in Washington, D.C. for the federal and local governments, and the Armenian Assembly of America. A native of Massachusetts, she earned a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Aida Zilelian is a New York City writer. Her novel The Legacy of Lost Things (Bleeding Heart Publications) was the recipient of the 2014 Tololyan Literary Award. Her stories have been published in over 25 journals and several anthologies. She has been featured on NPR, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Kirkus Reviews. She is also the curator of Boundless Tales, the longest-running reading series in Queens, New York. She recently completed her second novel, The Last Echo Through the Plains.