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METHONI (Ancient city) MESSINIA
Mechitar is the name taken by Peter Manuk, founder of the religious order of Mechitarists, when he became a monk. A native of Sebaste (Sivas) in Lesser Armenia, born 7 February, 1676, of parents reputed noble, he was left until the age of fifteen in the care of two pious nuns. Then he entered the cloister of the Holy Cross near Sebaste, and the same year (1691), was ordained deacon by Bishop Ananias. Shortly afterwards, impelled by his thirst for knowledge, he left the cloister -not putting off the habit or infringing his vows (the Eastern monk could, for a proper reason, lawfully leave the enclosure) and set forth, in the company of a doctor of that city, for Etchmiadzin, the capital of Greater Armenia, persuaded that it was the centre of civilization and the home of all the sciences. During the journey he met with a European missionary and a fellow Armenian, whose accounts of the wonders of the West changed the course of his life. Stirred with an admiration of Western culture and the desire to introduce it among his countrymen, he wandered from place to place, earning a scanty living by teaching. After eighteen months he returned to Sebaste where he remained for some time, still ambitious to study Western civilization. Even then he had conceived the idea of founding a religious society -suggested, doubtless, by the well-intentioned but long since suppressed association of the "United Brothers"- which would labour to introduce Western ideas and Western influence into Armenia. This would imply a formal reunion of the Armenian Church with Rome, and there would be an end of that wavering between Constantinople and Rome, so injurious to the spiritual and intellectual welfare of his country. At Sebaste, he devoted himself to the reading of the Armenian sacred writers and the Syrian and Greek Fathers in translations, and, after a vain attempt to reach Europe from Alexandria, he was ordained priest (1696) in his own city, and (1699) received the title and staff of doctor (Vartabed) . Then he began to preach, and went to Constantinople with the intention of founding an Armenian College. He continued his preaching there, generally in the church of St. George, gathered some disciples around him, and distinguished himself by his advocacy of union with the Holy See. Serious trouble ensued with a violent persecution of the Catholics by the Turks excited by the action of Count Ferrol, minister of Louis XIV at Stamboul, who carried off to Paris the anti-Catholic Patriarch of Constantinople. Naturally, the fervour of Mechitar and his disciples in the Catholic cause, and the success of their preaching singled them out for special attention. The two patriarchs, urged by a schismatic, Avedik, led the attack. Mechitar wisely dismissed his disciples and himself took refuge in a Capuchin convent under French protection. Pursued by his enemies, he escaped to the Morea, thence to Venetian territory, finding shelter in a Jesuit house. He attributed his safety to our Blessed Lady, under whose protection, on 8 Sept., the Feast of her Nativity, he had solemnly placed himself and his society.
The Venetians kindly gave him some property at Modon (1701), where he built a church and convent, and laid the foundations of the Mechitarist Order. Clement XI gave it formal approval in 1712, and appointed Mechitar Abbot. Three years later war broke out between Venice and the Porte, and the new abbey was in jeopardy. The abbot, leaving seventy of his monks behind, crossed over to Venice with sixteen companions with the intention of beginning a second foundation. It was well that he did so for the Venetians were defeated and the Morea was regained by the Turks. Modon was taken, the monastery destroyed and the monks dispersed. The house rented at Venice proved too small and Mechitar exerted all his influence to obtain the gift of San Lazzaro, an island about two miles south-east of the city, not far from the Lido. His request granted, he restored the old ruined church, and a second time built a monastery for his monks. This establishment has remained undisturbed in the hands of the Mechitarists to the present day. At S. Lazzaro he devised many schemes for the regeneration of his country. An accusation brought against him at Rome -not a personal charge but one connected with the labours undertaken by the orde- resulted in a better understanding with the Holy See, and the personal friendship of the pope. He lived at S. Lazzaro for thirty years, busy with his printing-press and his literary labours, and died at the age of seventy-four, on 16 April, 1749. Since his death he is always spoken of by his children as the Abbas Pater, Abbai hairm.
The most important of his literary works are the following: "Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew" (1737); "Commentary on Ecclesiasticus" (Venice); "Armenian Grammar"; "Armenian Grammar of the Vulgar Tongue"; "Armenian Dictionary" (1744, and in two volumes, Venice, 1749-69); "Armenian Catechism", both in the literary and vulgar tongues; "A Poem on the Blessed Virgin"; "Armenian Bible" (1734).
J.C. Almond, ed.
Transcribed by: Douglas J. Potter
This text is cited Dec 2005 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
METHONI (Ancient city) MESSINIA
Josephus of Methone. A defence of the Florentine council A. D. 1439, and of the union there negotiated between the Greek and Latin churches, in reply to Marcus Eugenicus of Ephesus, is extant, tinder the name of Joseph, bishop of Methone (Modon), in the Peloponnesus. It is entitled Apologia eis to grammation kuruu Markou tou Eugenikou metropoliton Ephesou, Responsio ad Libellum Domini Marci Eugenici Metropolitae Ephesi, and is given, with a Latin version by Jo. Matt. Caryophilus, in the Concilia (vol. xiii. col. 677, &c., ed. Labbe, and vol. ix. col. 54:9, &c., ed. Hardouin). Of this Joseph of Methone, Sguropulus relates that he represented himself to the patriarch Joseph of Constantinople [No. 7], when the latter touched at Methone, on his voyage to Italy to attend the council, as favourable to the opinions of the Greek church. If so, his subsequent change was countenanced by the example of the patriarch himself, and of the leading prelates who attended the council. There is also extant another defence of the Florentine council, entitled Ioannou tou Protoiereos tou Plousiadenou Dialexis peri tes diaphoras tes ouses meson Graikon kai Datinon eti te kai peri tes hieras kai hagias sunodou tes en Phlorentia genomenes, Joannis Archipresbyteri Plusiadeui Disceptatio de Differentiis inter Graecos et Latinos et de Sucrosancta Synodo Florentina. Allatits and Fabricius identify the two writers, and suppose that Joannes Plusiadenus changed his name to Josephus on becoming bishop of Methone. Allatius founds his supposition on the fact, that a MS. of the Responsio ad Marcum Ephesinum, in the Ambrosian library at Milan, bears in its title the name of Joannes Plusiadenus; to which it may be added that there are or were extant in modern Greek, according to the statement of Allatius, some MS. Conciones in dies Quadragesimalis Jejunii, by Joseph of Methone, in the title of which he is surnamed Plusiadenus. Cave denies the identity of the two, because Sguropulus has called Joseph of Methone a Latin (o Hpomaion episkopos), but this probably only refers to his support of the opinions of the Latin church. Oudin translates the expression "a Romanorum auctoritate derivans".
The Disceptatio de Differentiis, &c., was published by Allatius in his Graecia Orthodoxa, vol. i. p. 583, &c., 4to. Rome, 1652. The author of the Disceptatio refers to a defence of the Quinque Capitula Concilii Florentini, which he had previously written, and which is not known to have been published ; but Oudin suspects it is the Apologiu pro quinque Capitibus Concilii Florentini, commonly ascribed to Georgius Scholarius, or Genundius, of Constantinople. We may here add, that this Apologia has been printed not only in Latin, as stated in the artcle referred to, but also in Greek (Rome, 1577), and in modern Greek, with a Latin version (Rome, 4to. 1628). Nicolaus Comnenus cites a work of Joannes Plusiadenus, Antirrheticum, Secundum contra Marcum Ephesiunm. (Allatius, Graec. Orthod. l. c., and Epilog. ad Vol.I.; Cave, Hist. Litt. vol. ii., Appendix, by Wharton, pp. 151, 167; Fabric. Biblioth. Graec., vol. v. p. 60, vol. xi. p. 458; Oudin, Commentar. de Scriptor. Eccles. vol. iii. col. 2422.)
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