The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople also known as Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul is today head of The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople (Armenian: Պատրիարքութիւն Հայոց Կոստանդնուպոլսոյ) (also Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul), one of the smallest Patriarchates of the Oriental Orthodox Church but has exerted a very significant political role and today still exercises a spiritual authority, which earns him considerable respect among Oriental Orthodox churches.
The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople recognizes the primacy of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, in the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Armenian Church, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia, in matters that pertain to the worldwide Armenian Church. In local matters, the Patriarchal See is autonomous.
After conquering Constantinople, the Ottomans allowed the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople to stay in the city. But Sultan Mehmed II allowed the Armenians to establish their own church in the new Ottoman capital, as part of the Millet system. For a short period, the Syrian Orthodox Church was also placed under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate.
The first Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople was Hovakim I, who was at the time the Metropolitan of Bursa. In 1461, he was brought to Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed II and established as the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Hovakim I was recognized as the religious and secular leader of all Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and carried the title of milletbaşı or ethnarch as well as patriarch.
There have been 84 individual Patriarchs since establishment of the Patriarchate:
75 patriarchs during the Ottoman period (1461-1908)
4 patriarchs in the Young Turks period (1908-1922)
5 patriarchs in the current secular Turkish Republic (1923 - present)
The Armenian Patriarchate has served the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire with a line of Patriarchs in Constantinople.
However like the Greek Patriarchate, the Armenians suffered severely from intervention by the state in their internal affairs.
Although there have been 115 pontificates since 1461, there have only been 84 individual Patriarchs. Karapet II served five separate pontificates (1676-1679, 1680-1681, 1681-1684, 1686-1687 and 1688-1689).
In 1861, a national Constitution (Sahmanadrootiun in Armenian) was granted to Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Abdülaziz.
In 1896 Patriarch Madteos III (Izmirlian) was deposed and exiled to Jerusalem by Sultan Abdülhamid II for boldly denouncing the 1896 massacre. The Constitution governing the Armenians was suspended by the Sultan.
Young Turks Period 1908 - 1922
The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Madteos III (Izmirlian) was permitted to return to Istanbul in 1908 when Sultan Abdulhamid II was deposed by the Young Turks.
The new Turkish administration also restored the Constitution. In the initial period of the reign of the Young Turks, the Armenians enjoyed a brief period of restoration of civil liberties (1908-1915).
However starting 1915, the Armenians suffered great hardship under the Young Turks administration and the Armenian Community of Turkey was dessimated by mass deportations of its Armenian population 1915-1916 and the Armenian Genocide.
In this critical period, the post of the Patriarch remained vacant from 1915-1919 to be restored for a brief period 1919-1922 with Patriarch Zaven I Der Yeghiayan residing.
Armenian Patriarchs during the period
Four Armenian Patriarchs have served under the rule of the Young Turks
(Years of service, Name followed by the name in Armenian)
1908-1909 Matteos III (Izmirlian) Մատթէոս Գ. Իզմիրլեան Իսթանպուլցի
1909-1910 Yeghische I (Tourian) Եղիշէ Դուրեան Իսթանպուլցի
1911-1913 Hovhannes XII (Arscharouni) Յովհաննէս Արշարունի Իսթանպուլցի
1913-1915 Zaven I (Der Yeghiayan) Զաւէն Եղիայեան Պաղտատցի
1915-1919 Vacant Փոխանորդութեան շրջան
1919-1922 Zaven I (Der Yeghiayan) Զաւէն Եղիայեան Պաղտատցի
Republic of Turkey; Secularism, 1923 - Present
See also: Republic of Turkey and Secularism in Turkey
Despite a huge diminution in the number of its faithful during the Armenian Genocide, the patriarchate remains the spiritual head of the largest Christian community presently living in Turkey.
Besides Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchal Church (translation: the Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Patriarchal Church) in Kumkapi, Istanbul, there are tens of Armenian Apostolic churches.. Many of them might be inactive because of lack of the flock or lack of clergy.
Christ The King Armenian Church (Kadikoy, Istanbul)
Church of the Apparition of the Holy Cross (Kurucesme, Istanbul)
Holy Archangels Armenian Church (Balat, Istanbul)
Holy Cross Armenian Church (Kartal, Istanbul)
Holy Cross Armenian Church (Selamsiz, Uskudar, Istanbul)
Holy Hripsimiants Virgins Armenian Church (Buyukdere, Istanbul)
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Apostolic Church (Bakirkoy, Istanbul)
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Besiktas, Istanbul)
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Eyup, Istanbul)
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Ortakoy, Istanbul)
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Yenikoy, Istanbul)
Holy Nativity of the Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Bakirkoy, Istanbul)
Holy Resurrection Armenian Church (Kumkapi, Istanbul)
Holy Resurrection Armenian Chapel (Taksim, Istanbul)
Holy Three Youths Armenian Church (Boyacikoy, Istanbul)
Holy Trinity Armenian Church (Galatasaray, Istanbul)
Narlikapi Armenian Apostolic Church (Narlikapi, Istanbul)
St. Elijah The Prophet Armenian Church (Eyup, Istanbul)
St. John the Baptist Armenian Church (Uskudar)
St. John The Evangelist Armenian Church (Gedikpasa, Istanbul)
St. John The Evangelist Armenian Church (Narlikapi, Istanbul)
St. John The Forerunner Armenian Church (Baglarbasi, Uskudar, Istanbul)
St. George (Sourp Kevork) Armenian Church (Samatya, Istanbul)
St. Gregory The Enlightener (Sourp Krikor Lousavoritch) (Galata, Istanbul)
St. Gregory The Enlightener (Sourp Krikor Lousavoritch) Armenian Church (Kuzguncuk, Istanbul)
St. Gregory The Enlightener (Sourp Krikor Lousavoritch) Armenian Church (Karakoy, Istanbul)
St. Gregory The Enlightener (Sourp Krikor Lousavoritch) (Kinaliada, Istanbul)
St. James Armenian Church (Altimermer, Istanbul)
St. Nicholas Armenian Church (Beykoz, Istanbul)
St. Nicholas Armenian Church (Topkapi, Istanbul)
St. Santoukht Armenian Church (Hisar, Istanbul)
St. Saviour (Sourp Pergitch) Armenian Chapel (Yedikule, Istanbul)
St. Sergius Armenian Chapel (Balikli, Istanbul)
St. Stephen Armenian Church (Karakoy, Istanbul)
St. Stephen Armenian Church (Yesilkoy, Istanbul)
St. Takavor Armenian Apostolic Church (Kadikoy, Istanbul)
Saints Thaddeus and Barholomew Armenian Church (Yenikapi, Istanbul)
St. Trinity (Sourp Yerrortutyoun) Church (Pera, Istanbul)
St. Vartanants Armenian Church (Ferikoy, Istanbul)
The Twelve Holy Apostles Armenian Church (Kandilli, Istanbul)
Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebastea Armenian Church (Iskenderun, Hatay)
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Vakiflikoy, Samandag, Hatay)
St. George (Sourp Kevork) Armenian Church (Derik, Mardin)
St. Gregory The Enlightener Armenian Church (Kayseri)
St. Gregory The Enligtener Armenian Church (Kirikhan)
St. Giragos Armenian Church (Diyarbakir)
St. Vartanants (Ferikoy)
The Patriarchate publishes an annual review in Armenian called Shoghagat (Rays from Above), containing theological, liturgical, historical and cultural articles.
A small, illustrated bulletin Lraper is published weekly (monthly in the summer months). The bilingual Lraper is in Armenian and Turkish.