This week will mark the 80th anniversary of the tragic death of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian, who was martyred at Holy Cross Church of Armenia in New York on December 24, 1933.
Tourian Srpazan was one of the intellectual and spiritual giants among the clergy of the Armenian Church in modern times. Born in Constantinople in 1879, he was a graduate of the renowned Seminary of Armash outside the imperial capital. There he studied from 1898-1902 under the tutelage of his elder cousin Archbishop Yeghishé Tourian, who would later become Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Consecrated priest and shortly thereafter bishop, Ghevont Srpazan served as the Archbishop of the Armenian Church of Smyrna, Bulgaria, Greece and Manchester, England. He also served as the personal secretary of yet another prominent Armenian churchman and past dean of the Armash Seminary, Patriarch Maghakia Ormanian of Constantinople. In 1931 he was elected Primate of the Armenian Church of America.
Tourian was an accomplished writer and orator. Many of his sermons and speeches were published during his lifetime in a multi-volume collection entitled Պարզ քարոզներ [Simple Sermons]. The Zohrab Center’s library holds copies of all of his books.
One of them is Volume 1 of this series, which contains an autographed inscription by Archbishop Tourian which reads:
To the most noble and radiant Mr. and Mrs. Gullabi Gulbenkian as a sign of respect and eternal remembrance. –Ghevont Vartabed Tourian. 1 July 1907.
Gullabi Gulbenkian was a Genocide orphan who became an affluent industrialist and philanthropist. Tourian inscribed the book to him just months after it was published in Constantinople, when he was still a young priest “Vartabed.”
In a Christmas sermon that opens the volume, Archbishop Tourian quotes the words of King Herod: “Search diligently for the child” [Matthew 2:8]. Herod was threatened by the attention that the newborn Jesus was attracting. Exotic Magi had arrived from the East bearing gifts for the newborn, whom they were referring to as a king, and thus a potential rival to Herod’s throne. Herod ordered that the child be located so that he might worship him. But the devious King actually intended to destroy the child. Setting out from this scene, Tourian Srpazan gives a lesson in how one should diligently seek God today. CLICK HERE to read an English translation of this sermon.
Ghevont Srpazan’s books, as well as those of his elder cousins Yeghishé and Bedros, are available in the Zohrab Information Center for those interested in perusing them.
May the eternal memory of the just be blessed. Յաւիտենական յիշատակն արդարոց օրհնութեամբ եղիցի։