The courtyard of Sts. James Armenian Cathedral echoed with the sound of knocks as a deacon struck a narrow wooden plank at the right of the cathedral’s entryway. This is the traditional call to service at the Armenian cathedral of Jerusalem, where pilgrims, clergy, and guests gathered on Tuesday, June 4, for the enthronement of the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.
A line of clergy and altar servers walked in a procession from the Patriarchate Center to the cathedral, where Archbishop Nourhan Manougian was formally installed as the successor to the throne of St. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem.
Kneeling at the altar, Archbishop Manougian recited an oath, pledging his faithfulness to the Lord and commitment to safeguarding the Armenian presence in the Holy Land.
In an ancient ceremony, seven archbishops—including Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocese’s Ecumenical Director—placed their right hands on Archbishop Manougian, bestowing him with the authority to lead the Armenian see of Jerusalem.
Archbishop Sevan Gharibian presented Archbishop Manougian with a pastoral staff of office.
“Today, as I take up the pastoral staff of the Armenian Patriarchate—as I take my first, humble step into a legacy that spans the centuries—I am moved by the conviction that the greatest achievement of my own people is not the dead kingdoms we once held, but the vital ideas that sustained our spirit,” Archbishop Manougian said.
He went on to speak of the importance of establishing harmony and friendship among the many peoples who call Jerusalem home. “The Jerusalem of our dreams stands in some tension with the Jerusalem that is,” he said, adding that God “invites us to open our hearts to Him, and to each other, so that we may reason together, alongside our heavenly Father.”
Letters from His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, were read by representatives of the two spiritual leaders. In his message, His Holiness Karekin II renewed the commitment of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin to support the efforts of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. Archbishop Aram Ateshian, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, presented Archbishop Manougian with a chalice.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Archbishop Manougian assumed the throne of St. James, as members of the Brotherhood of St. James approached to receive his blessing. The throne of St. James, which dates to the 17th century, is carved from precious wood and inlaid with mother of pearl. It stands at the original grave of St. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus, which has since been moved under the main altar of the cathedral. The throne is used only once a year, on the Feast of St. James.
Archbishop Manougian succeeds the late Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, who passed away in October 2012. He was elected as the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem on January 24, during the 22nd session of the general assembly of the St. James monastic brotherhood.
Other representatives of the Eastern Diocese who attended Tuesday’s ceremony include the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and participants in the Young Adult Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.