Virtual Pilgrimage: Mt. Tabor, In Light of the Transfiguration

St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Professor Dr. Roberta R. Ervine will lead a virtual pilgrimage to Mt. Tabor to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. This free Zoom live session will take place on July 15, 2023 at 7:00pm.

To register, go to

To learn more about this and other virtual and in-person pilgrimages to Jerusalem, visit:

“The Embodiment of the Best Attributes of the Armenian People.” Dr. Roberta Ervine to Speak About Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants

Catholicos Karekin Hovspiants (1838-1945)

The Zohrab Center will devote its last evening enrichment program of the year to one of the greatest leaders of the Armenian people in modern times, Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants, on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Professor Roberta Ervine of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will present a lecture entitled, Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants and the Value of Simple, Timeless Things on Thursday, November 30 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

Hovsepiants must be ranked among the greatest figures in the entire history of the Armenian people.  The sheer range of his abilities and the scope of his achievements is simply astounding. Before rising to the Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia, Hovsepiants had battled the Turks at Sardarabad, earned advanced degrees from Europe’s most prestigious universities, led archaeological expeditions, lectured in philology and history, shepherded the Armenian Diocese of America during its most tumultuous era, and become one of the leading scholars of Armenian art history in the world.

2017-11 ErvineHovsepiants.001During his tenure as Primate in New York (1938-1945), Hovsepiants established the Diocesan publication Հայաստանեայց Եկեղեցի / Hayasdanyaits Yegeghetsy [The Armenian Church], raised funds to liquidate the Diocese’s debts, drafted a vision and plan to build a Cathedral and a Seminary for the American Diocese, and inspired many through his passionate and uplifting preaching.

“Catholicos Karekin was the embodiment of the best attributes of the Armenian people,” wrote the late Archbishop Yeghishé Gizirian in an essay published in 1962 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Catholicos’ passing. He added, “In his diminutive but attractive body was stored tremendous energy, physical, mental and spiritual. Ever active, ever alert with a very keen, retentive memory, quick in perception, and equally quick in formulating his opinions and arriving at a decision.”

2017-11-roberta-e1511383762455.jpegProfessor Ervine will survey the Catholicos’ life and achievements, while she seeks to identify the invisible spirit that fueled them.

“Revered and reviled in his own lifetime, Karekin Hovsepiants became one of the Armenian Church’s most inspired and inspiring figures,” Ervine says.” His life—and even more, his spirit—challenges today’s Armenians to embrace the demands of their faith to the fullest.”

A regular lecturer at the Zohrab Center, Roberta Ervine is Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in Armonk, New York, where she teaches Armenian Church History and Theology, and Modern and Classical Armenian languages. She recently taught a one-week intensive course on the life and writings of St. Nersess Shnorhali.

“Dr. Ervine has the rare ability to breathe life into history in such a way that persons from the past seem to rise up out of the pages of books and speak to the most pressing questions of our time and place,” one of her students said.

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.


Genocide and Immortality? Dr. Roberta Ervine to Open ZIC Autumn Enrichment Series

The Zohrab Center’s Autumn Enrichment Series will begin on Tuesday, September 27 with a presentation by Dr. Roberta Ervine entitled, In the Harsh Light of Genocide: Armenian Thoughts on Immortality.

2016-09-ervineanmahutiwn-001Dr. Ervine is Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. She is a regular lecturer at the Zohrab Center.

The Genocide forced Armenians to reconsider their human experience in the light of mass death and dislocation. In an insecure and threatening world, what can one depend on? Is there a life after death, and if so, who is in charge of it? Where does it happen? What is it like? What qualities make a person, a community, or an ethnic group immortal? Does immortality have anything to do with faith? How does immortality relate to traditional Armenian religious teaching, if at all?

Prof. Roberta ErvineOn an almost week-by-week basis, Armenian periodical literature from the 1920’s and 1930’s records the process by which these questions worked themselves out in the minds of survivors and Diaspora Armenians alike.

Rereading this long forgotten body of writings, Dr. Ervine will explore the new, post-Genocide thinking on the topic of immortality, and look at where Armenians turned to find inspiration and consolation in the uncertain decades immediately following the Genocide.

Since 2001 Professor Roberta Ervine has taught courses on
Classical and Modern Armenian Language, Church History, and Armenian Theology and Spirituality at St. Nersess Seminary in Armonk, New York. She earned her PhD in classical Armenian Studies from Columbia University and has done extensive research on topics related to medieval Armenian studies. She pursues topics related to the history of Armenians in Jerusalem and the intellectual tradition of the Armenian Middle Ages.

2016-09-ervineimmortality-001During the Spring  she was the Henry K. Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies at California State University, Fresno.

Dr. Ervine’s presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York on Tuesday, Septmeber 27, 2016. All are invited to the event, which is free of charge. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

Sex, the Scriptures and St. Gregory of Narek. Presentation by Prof. Roberta Ervine Tuesday, November 3

2015-10 SongSongsImage

Dr. Roberta Ervine, Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, returns to the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, November 3 at 7PM to explore yet another facet of Armenian Christian culture and thought. The title of her presentation is Sex in the Scriptures: The Commentary on the Song of Songs by St. Gregory of Narek.

It may come as a surprise to many that the Holy Bible contains a book of erotic love poems. The Old Testament work known as The Song of Songs is overlooked and even avoided by some today due to its graphic sexual imagery and dubious meaning. Yet the cycle of poems was the object of intrigue and intense study by the early church fathers East and West, including the great 10th-century Armenian mystic, St. Gregory of Narek.

2015-10 BlessingBlessingsCoverProfessor Ervine will present her recent English translation of St. Gregory’s commentary on the Song of Songs and show how the monk from the southern shore of Lake Van dares us to rethink how we imagine God, love, sex and the divine intimacy into which he invites his creatures.

The presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York, and is free and open to the public. A wine and cheese reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710.

2015-11 ErvineSongofSongs.001CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

ZICErvineRoberta Ervine is an internationally recognized expert on Armenian theological writings and culture, with a particular interest in Cilician-era authors and the history of Armenian Jerusalem. She has published widely and lectured throughout the world, including regular engagements at the Zohrab Center. Dr. Ervine earned her Ph.D. in Armenian Studies from Columbia University, a student of Nina Garsoïan. From there for nearly 25 years she lived, studied and taught within the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem as a disciple of the late Archbishop Norayr Bogharian, who was renowned as one of the twentieth century’s leading authorities on classical Armenian literature. Her most recent book, The Blessing of Blessings: Gregory of Narek’s Commentary on the Song of Songs, was published by Cistercian Press.

Learn! Grow! Inspire! 2015 Spring Lecture Series

ZZohrab.001The Zohrab Center presents a rich and varied program of lectures, book presentations, and other stimulating opportunities for enrichment and edification this Winter and Spring. Armenians and anyone interested in Armenian civilization, arts, letters, and faith will find many options to learn, to grow and to inspire others.

A new study on Armenian music, a guide to the Armenian Church’s Holy Week ceremonies, a photographic album of the old Armenian community of Bourj-Hammoud, a Genocide-era novel, and a new travelogue of historic western Armenia will all be showcased by their authors. In addition, noted scholars will hold forth on various facets of Armenian Studies, including Vartan Matossian, Helen Evans and Roberta Ervine. A movie night and other events are also planned.

The Zohrab Center is collaborating with several sister organizations and parishes to co-sponsor some events.

All events are open to the public and most are free of charge. Unless otherwise noted, all presentations take place at the Zohrab Center (Armenian Diocese, New York). Check back frequently for updates and additions. For further information contact ZIC at or (212) 686-0710.

ZIC Schedule of Events Spring 2015

Thursday, February 5 (7PM)
“Code Name Haiko: Discovering the Last Unknown Participant in Talaat Pasha’s Liquidation” Dr. Vartan Matiossian, Armenian National Education Committee

Thursday, February 12
Commemoration of St. Vartan and His Companions. Divine Liturgy and Dinner followed by Lecture. Co-sponsored with St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral
“An Anthropologist Considers St. Vartan: Faith, Nation and Memory” Lecture by Christopher Sheklian, University of Chicago

Thursday, February 19 (7PM)
St. Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, NJ

The Life and Work of 19th-Century Armenian Composer Kristapor Gara-Murza. Book Presentation by Krikor Pidejian with Şahan Arzruni.

Thursday, March 5 (7PM)
Co-sponsored with Eastern Diocese Department of Armenian Studies
Portraits of Survival: The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud. Book Presentation by Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne.

Thursday, March 12 (7PM)
A.G.B.U. Center, New York

Historic Armenia after 100 Years. Book Presentation by Matthew Karamian

Thursday, March 19 (7PM)
“A Guided Tour of Holy Week in the Armenian Church” Lecture and Book Presentation by Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Zohrab Information Center/St. Nersess Armenian Seminary

Wednesday, April 8 (7PM)
“Picking Up the Pieces: Three Bishops and Their Vision for the Armenian Church circa 1920” Lecture by Dr. Roberta Ervine, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary

Thursday, April 16 (7PM)
Co-sponsored with the Eastern Diocese Department of Armenian Studies
The Martyred Armenian Writers 1915-1922. Book presentation by Herand Markarian

Thursday, April 30 (7PM)
“Armenian Art: Voice of a People” Dr. Helen Evans, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tuesday, June 2 (7PM)
The Survivor. Book Presentation: Rosemary Hartounian Cohen.

Scholar Uncovers Letters of Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan in Zohrab Collection

Professor Roberta Ervine peruses the archives of Ms. Srpouhie Essefian in the Zohrab Center.
Professor Roberta Ervine peruses the archives of Ms. Srpouhie Essefian in the Zohrab Center.

One of the many innocuous, white boxes in a back room of the Zohrab Center holds dozens of personal letters from the 1950’s and 1960’s, correspondence between the late Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan and Srpouhie-Anna Essefian. The letters were recently uncovered by Dr. Roberta Ervine, Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, who published a volume containing texts and English translations of Nersoyan’s letters that the former Jerusalem Patriarch-elect and Primate of the Eastern Diocese bequeathed to the Seminary upon his death in 1991.

2013-03 TANLetterMs. Essefian, who worked for twenty-two years in the United States Information Agency in Washington, DC, was active not only in St. Mary Armenian Church there, but also in the New York area. She served for a number of years in the Armenian Educational League in Brooklyn and was active in the mid-twentieth century Armenian life of New York City. In later years she took a degree in history at Georgetown University, writing a dissertation, entitled, Medieval Monarchies of Armenia. Her archives, containing several dozen letters, photographs, personal memorabilia, newspaper clippings, research notes and a diary, are housed in the Zohrab Center. The documents include a personal letter from His Holiness Vazken I, the late Catholicos of All Armenians; and a personal telegram from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The correspondence between Ms. Essefian and Nersoyan, whom she had first met in the 30’s, span a period when the Archbishop was residing in Jerusalem and later in New York City. The congenial letters concern the affairs of the Armenian community in Washington DC and specific issues connected with Ms. Essefian’s ongoing armenological studies and research. Most interesting are allusions in the Archbishop’s letters to the situation of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which gravely concerned him.

Dr. Ervine is continuing her study of these and other letters of the late Archbishop, which she plans to publish in a second volume of his writings.

Dozens of other archival collections in the Zohrab Center await exploration and scholarly study.