Harutyun Vehapetyan, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, has made great efforts to transfer an antique mosaic from Musrar into the legal possession of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
In the 7th century, there were about 70 Armenian churches and monasteries in Israel which were all decorated with mosaics. One of them, with an Armenian ornament and the inscription “In memory of all Armenians whose names are known only to God”, was discovered in the 19th century on the Street of the Prophets in Jerusalem as a result of excavations carried out by archaeologists Willard and Corneille. The dimensions of the mosaic were impressive – 4.0 x 6.5 m – and it was almost completely preserved.
Harutyun Vehapetyan (1819-1910) was a prominent figure of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He has served as Archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople and Jerusalem.
Vehapetyan was orphaned at an early age. Having demonstrated a great desire to study, he was sent to Jerusalem to receive primary education at the theological school of the Saint James Monastery.
In order to perfect himself, Harutyun Vehapetyan returned to Constantinople and then went to Europe and America, where he intended to study various disciplines and, in particular, medicine.
However, due to the lack of finances, he left school. But he had nonetheless managed to learn Turkish, Arabic, and English and enrich his knowledge in theology. In the 1840s, he continued his education at the Scutari seminary of Constantinople, studying Armenian studies, arithmetic, and geography.
In 1853, the Constantinople Patriarch Hakobos, assessing the merits of the young churchman, appointed him as his deputy. In 1857-1859, Vehapetyan served as the head of the Armenian Diocese of Kharberd. In 1859, he headed the diocese of Karin (Erzurum). In 1860, he was ordained a bishop by the Catholicos of All Armenians Matthew I in Holy Etchmiadzin.
After returning to Karin, Vehapetyan would calmly and authoritatively serve his diocese for more than 20 years, making great efforts to ensure its prosperity. He initiated the construction and restoration of many educational institutions and churches, as well as was engaged in charity.
In 1862, Vehapetyan restored the residence of the head of the diocese of Karin, the Church of Holy Gregory the Illuminator destroyed by an earthquake, and the dilapidated school of Karin with funds from benefactor Hakop Makaryan.
At the General National Assembly held on January 25, 1885, Harutyun Vehapetyan was elected as the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. On December 6, 1885, the National Assembly elected him as the Patriarch of the Armenians of Jerusalem, with the condition of being the Patriarch of either Constantinople or Jerusalem. He remained at the position of the Patriarch of Constantinople until June 1888, after which he headed the Jerusalem Patriarchate until the end of his life.
In the mid-1890s, Vehapetyan built his own library using his personal funds in the Church of Saint Toros in Jerusalem, where he brought 2,000 manuscripts from Etchmiadzin.