On June 13, 2016, the Very Reverend Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, together with the Reverend Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, departed for Armenia at the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II, supreme patriarch and catholicos of All Armenians. Fathers John and Mardiros will be visiting the seat of the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, to discuss the possibilities of inter-seminary collaboration between Gevorgyan Theological, St. Nersess, and St. Vladimir’s seminaries.
“I am very excited to visit Armenia, Holy Etchmiadzin, and especially His Holiness Karekin II,” remarked Father John. “Our relationship with the Armenian Church and St. Nersess Seminary goes back almost half a century, yet this is the first time that a Dean of St. Vladimir’s has been given opportunity to visit Armenia. I am very thankful to Fr. Mardiros for making this trip possible, and I am eager to explore various ways of further collaboration.”
During this historic visit, Fr. John will be received by His Holiness, whom he first met in 2010, when His Holiness and St. Vladimir’s Seminary both receivedawards from the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations, headquartered in Moscow. Father John will also meet with the Very Reverend Garegin Hambardzumyan, dean of Gevorgyan Theological Seminary—who initially visited St. Vladimir’s Seminary in April 2016—and will address current seminarians and meet other faculty members of that seminary.
“While I am there, I also hope to visit the Matenadaran Library in Yerevan, which has the sole extant manuscript of St. Irenaeus of Lyons in the Armenian language, translated in sixth century from the now lost Greek original” remarked Fr. John, a renowned scholar of the works of Irenaeus. “I will soon begin working, together with our alumnus Paul Saieg, on a new edition of the works of St. Irenaeus for Oxford University Press.”
“The Christian tradition in Armenia is extremely ancient, and very rich in its theological, monastic, and spiritual life, as well as its art and architecture,” continued Fr. John. “Visiting Armenia is sure to be a blessing and enriching experience, as we will be treading the ground upon which two of Christ’s disciples, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew, walked, as well as the great illuminator, St. Gregory the Enlightener, who converted the King of Armenia to Christianity in AD 301.”
More details and photos regarding Father John’s trip will be forthcoming.