Mkrtich Khrimian (Mkrtich I of Van, April 4, 1820, Van – October 29, 1907, Vagharshapat) was the Catholicos of All Armenians from 1893 to 1907, a successor of Magar Teghutsi. He also was a major social, political, and cultural figure of the Armenian national liberation movement. Khrimian is colloquially known as Khrimian Hayrik (Father Khrimian).
Having been educated in the spiritual schools of Lima and Ktuts (Vaspurakan), Khrimian was ordained a priest in 1854 and a bishop in 1868. In the 1840-1860s, Khrimian worked as a teacher.
He founded the gymnasium-boarding school of Varagavank (1857), as well as a grammar school at the St. Karapet Monastery in Mush (1862). He published the periodicals “Artsvi Vaspurakan” (1855) and “Artsvik Tarono” (1863).
In 1856-1862, Khrimian was the abbot of the monastery of St. Karapet in Mush and the spiritual leader of Taron. In 1869-1873, he was the patriarch of All Armenians in Constantinople. In 1873, the Ottoman government forced him to resign.
As the leader of the Armenian delegation at the Berlin Congress (1878), he visited the government officials of major powers, including Italy, France, England, Germany. Khrimian presented them with a report made by the patriarchate and expressed his hope of diplomatically resolving the Armenian Question.
Disappointed in the results of the Berlin Congress, Khrimian Hayrik turned to the national liberation struggle. In 1879, he was elected the spiritual leader of Vaspurakan. In 1880, Khrimian established an agricultural college.
Khrimian supported the national liberation secret organizations “Sev Khach” (“Black cross”) in Van and “Pashtpan Hayreniats” (“Defender of the homeland”) in Karin. Because of this, Khrimian Hayrik was summoned to Constantinople in 1885. On July 15, 1890, after a protest in Gumgaf, he was exiled to Jerusalem by the Ottoman government.
In 1895, Khrimian departed to Saint Petersburg to meet the Emperor of the Russian Empire Nicholas II and ask for the implementation of the promised reforms in Western Armenia.
During the pogroms of Western Armenians in 1894-1896, Khrimian provided financial assistance to the refugees, created conditions for them to return to their homeland that was threatened by the danger of being devastated and abandoned without the Armenian people.
Struggling against the order of the tsarist government of June 12, 1903, to confiscate the property of the Armenian Church, Khrimian ordered diocesan leaders to disobey this decision and resist its implementation.
Khrimian Hayrik is the author of many theological, philosophical, journalistic, and ethnographic works. The Armenian people dedicated many songs, poems, and other works to Mkrtich I of Van, one of the most influential figures in the Armenian national liberation movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Bibliography: Խրիմյան հայրիկ. Երկեր, ԵՊՀ հրատ., Ե. 1992 թ: Երկեր Ամբողջական երկեր, Նյու Յորք, 1929: Երկ., Ե., 1992: Գրականություն Խրիմեան Հայրիկ, Փարիզ. 1925: Աճեմյան Հ., Հայոց Հայրիկ, Թավրիզ. 1929: Գյուզալյան Գ, Խրիմեան Հայրիկ, Բեյրութ, 1954: Կոստանդյան Է. Մկրտիչ Խրիմյան. հասարակւսկան-քաղաքական գործունեությունը, Ե. 2000