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Religious figures biography (2)
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Mechitar (Mechitarist Order, Mechitarists)
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"
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.
Joseph (Josephus) bishop of Methone
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.)