For more on the subject of Armenian women deacons and monastics in the Armenian Apostolic Church, see Shepherds of the Nation and A Nearly Forgotten History: Women Deacons in the Armenian Apostolic Church in the April 21, 2012 and July 6, 2013 issues of The Armenian Weekly.

The legacy of sublime love and humble service to God and the Armenian Nation left by the women monastics of the ArmenianApostolicChurch throughout the centuries is a priceless treasure and a source of awe and inspiration.  Even during times of enormous adversity of which there were far too many in the history of this Christian nation, these unassuming and visionary women undauntedly persevered in their ordained work. With the passing of time, however, as well as changing times, these women—nuns, acolytes, sub-deacons, deacons, archdeacons, scribes, illuminators, paper and parchment makers, binders—and their work have been nearly forgotten.  Fortunately, their legacy survives, albeit in fragile old books written in an ancient language that some cannot read and in a small but growing number of women today who have also selected to serve their Church and Nation, as is evident in some of the examples that follow.

St. Stepanos nun-deaconesses

The Kalfayan Sisterhood, founded in 1866 in Constantinople, Turkey, by Sister Srpouhi Nshan Kalfayan as the “Kalfayan National Orphanage of Three Years Dedicated to the Holy Virgins,” had a number of sisters throughout its history.  The orphanage was celebrated for its excellent education. “All its members were deaconesses and the abbess, protodeaconess.”  Sister Kalfayan was born in 1823 and “became a nun at the age of eighteen. . .  She opened a trade-school for poor boys and girls in the Khaskeuy section of Constantinople. . .”  After her visit to Europe in 1858, she founded the above mentioned orphanage.  The honored archdeaconess died on June 4, 1889, and was buried in the yard of the orphanage.  Sister Christine Papazian became Mother Superior of the orphanage after the death of Srpouhi Mayrabed (Mother Superior).  “She had earlier worked as a nurse in the National Hospital during her early days as a nun. . .”  Although the order no longer exists, at present Sister Kayane Dulkadiryan (born 1966), a sub-deacon, continues in the footsteps of these women. “She is active in the church, and she can read the Bible in the church,” wrote Archbishop Aram Atesyan, Deputy General of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey, in a recent email communication I had with him. “The Kalfayan Orphanage,” the Archbishop explained, “still exists with approximately 70 girls between the ages of ten and seventeen, and it is run by a Board of Directors, which is elected by the community.”

Two St. Catherine’s nun-deaconesses pictured with a “wooden bell” (Photo from R. C. Colliver’s book: Persian Women and Their Ways)

The religious order of the Kalfayan Sisterhood and other such orders left an indelible impact on the ArmenianApostolicChurch and the people they served, especially the orphans entrusted to their care.  The following poem titled Mayrabednern Ukhdavor (Pilgrim Nuns) by Melkon Asadour from the village of Khas in Turkey (translated by Knarik O. Meneshian), serves as a poignant illustration. Published on May 19, 1933, in Sion, a periodical of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem since 1866, the poem is dedicated to Mother Aghavni and Sister Mariam of the Kalfayan Orphanage who had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1933.

                                                  Pilgrim Nuns

Since childhood, you have promised your lives to the Church,
And to serve our Lord’s Altar.
With an ornate staff in hand,
A dedicated blessed veil on the head,
The silvery rays of a bright comet above,
Early, you two Sisters departed for your journey.
“Let the Lord guide your steps!”
After traveling from road to road, Sisters,
You reached the Promised Land.

There you presented your sacrifice, offerings for a Mass—
Your gifts, your prayers, and your incense
Mixed with the anguished tears of orphans.
With heads bowed and kneeling side by side,
You blessed the tombstones.

As sobs mixed with your invocations and entreaties,
And the yearnings of your bright-eyed orphans—
High above Golgotha,
Jesus heard.
And in Bethlehem’s Blessed Holy Manger,
The healing of the sufferers’ pain and anguish,
The repentance of the sinner—oh, always,
Mixed with soft vapors—the breath
Of the cow, the sheep, and the lamb.

Since childhood, you have promised your lives to the Church,
And to serve our Lord’s Altar.
With an ornate staff in hand,
You walked the same path as Jesus did,
And handed to you
Were the uneducated flocks of orphans
To nourish with bread and wine….

In turn, the kind traveler, the Samaritan,
Will ponder your reward
Announcing sweetly,
“Live long, live long, Sisters!
You have done enough for us orphans, for me!

The nun-deaconesses helping Father Chiftjian during baptism in Lebanon (Photo provided by Father Chiftjian)


The following article, Hay Grchuhiner (Armenian Women Scribes), written by Bishop Nerses Tsovagan and published in the April-May 1954 issue of Sion on the topic of Armenian women scribes reveals the legacy they left for their beloved Church and Nation. The mentioned works copied or illuminated, at times both, are the Bible, Text of the Creed, Book on the Interpretation of Dates, Book on the Interpretation of a Prayer Book, Book on the Interpretation of Solomon’s Proverbs, Book on the Interpretation of Luke, Book on Spiritual Advice; canonicals, memoirs; history, hymn, prayer, and sermon books.

Mother Superior/Archdeanconess Hripsime Tahiriants (Photo from Father K. Khutsyan’s book: Tiflsi Surp Stepanos Kusants Anapati Badmutiune

Armenian Women Scribes

In our history of manuscript production, a chapter must be devoted to women scribes, who have left a legacy of their manuscript copying works.  Many women scribes were nuns, some of whom were known as monastics in the 17th century at the Shenher and Shorot monasteries/convents/cloisters (in the Julfa region in Nachichevan), where manuscripts were illuminated.  During the revival of manuscript production in the 17th century, women monastics, like others, were inspired by the revival.  During the 17th century alone, we know of more women scribes than all others prior to that century.  The most prolific woman scribe known to us is Brabion Nodar (Note Taker) of whose works nine are known.  It is also worth mentioning several women who prepared the paper or parchment for their manuscripts. 

Shakar Havadavor (Believer) was the daughter of Father Vartishkhan.  The two commissioned, in Jerusalem, the renowned scribe Stepanos Yergayn to copy a 1321 Bible, and they gifted it to the Hreshtagabed Monastery.  Shakar also had engaged in preparing paper for manuscripts.

Khabib Khatun was the wife of the scribe Father Garabed.  She had copied a Bible in 1451 in Van.  She had also worked as a paper maker.

Mariam Grich yev Ngarich (Scribe and Illuminator) copied and illuminated a book of sermons by Krikor Datevatsi, in 1456.

Gohar was the daughter of manuscript scribe and illuminator Yerzngatsi Hovhannes’s brother and Malkhatun.  She helped her uncle during the years 1484-1486 in Gesaria by preparing the parchments and paper for a Bible and a missal.

Altun was the daughter of scribe Hovhannes Yerets, who in 1621 wrote about his daughter:  “And so my daughter Altun became my helper and prepared the paper and lit my light, and for the whole night she worked alongside of me and prepared my food…”

Goharine Kuys yev Grich (Nun and Scribe) was a scribe in 1630 at the Yerek Khorank Monastery in the village of Avandonts.  She copied a canonical book.

Marinos Grigoruhi Kuys copied Megnutiun Domari by Bishop Hagop Ghrimetsi, in 1637, and Harants Vark in 1650, in the village of Arkosh.

Mariam Grich was the daughter of Bishop Margos’s brother.  In 1647, in the village of Khanatsakh in Gharabagh, she copied a hymnbook by Nerses Shnorhali.

Mariam Kuys was the daughter of Markar and Antaram, and the niece of Kavich (Atoner) Father Giragos.  In 1651, at the Shenher Convent she copied Krikor Datevatsi’s Vosgeporik.

Varvare Kuys.  Three of her works are available:  Hishadagaran, written in 1647; Zhamagirk, copied in 1655, and Karozagirk of Krikor Datevatsi, copied in 1684 at the Pokr Siunik Convent.

Hripsime Kuys Mayrabed (Mother Superior) copied, in 1651, a prayer book, an hour book, and a calendar of holidays for “Yeghisabet,” and in 1653 Megnutiun Zhamagirki at the Halidzor Cloister.

Varteni Abashkharogh (Penitent) copied one Sandukht Book in 1657.

Shushan Norashingetsi Kuys was the daughter of Bashkhi and Khurmi, and sister of Aristakes Vartabed (celibate priest).  In the village of Shorot, she copied the Badmagirk of Yeghishe, of Khorenatsi, etc., in 1664 when she was 43 years old.  In 1666, at the request of her brother Father Aristakes, she copied Megnutiun Aragats Soghomoni.

Margarid Kuys copied Nerses Shnorhali’s Gir Havado in 1669 and a Bible in 1676, at Surp Asdvatsatsin Convent in the village of Shorot, located in the district of Yernjag.

Erine Kuyr (Sister) copied Adeni Zhamagirk at the Shenher Convent in 1673.

Maryam Grich was a student of Father Nahabed, who later became Catholicos (1691-1705). She copied the following works between 1673 and 1678: Hayli Varuts, a translation of Stepanos Lehatsi; Harants Vark and Vosgeporik at St. Hagop in Jerusalem as a gift to her godfather, Vartabed Nahabed.

Khanum Dbir (Acolyte) copied a Bible at St. Gevork Church in the village of Agn, in 1682, at the request of Mrs. Nur Melik.

Goharine Kuys  copied Krikor Naregati’s Prayer Book at Shorot Cloister in 1687-1688. She was the daughter of Bedros and Hripsime.

Marinos Kuys bound the manuscript copied by Goharine at Shorot Cloister in 1687-1688.

Soghovme copied a book titled Khrad Hokevork in 1730.

Brabion Nodar yev Gragruhi (Note Taker and Secretary) was a student of Mateos Gragir. She copied the following books in Constantinople: Badmutiun Zhoghovats Yeprosi yev Kaghgeton, 1772, at Palat’s (section in Constantinope) Surp Hreshdagabed Church as a gift to Bishop Hovhannes Mamigonetsi; Andar Noraguyn Mdatsmants, 1773; Badmutiun Zhoghovats, 1774, at Palat’s Surp Hreshdagabed Church; Megnutiun Hngamadeni, 1779, for Vartan Vartabed; Megnutiun Yergots Yergooyn, 1780, for Vartan Vartabed; Megnutiun Madteosi of Nerses Shnorhali and Hovhannes Yerzngatsi, 1781; Khosk Hin Yeranutiun of Grigor Niusatsi, 1783, (at times, this manuscript was at Armash Monastery, [built in 1611, near Izmit, Turkey]); Havakatsu Muh, which contained the work of Hovhannes Kahana (priest) titled Haghags Anguinavor Tvots, 1786.  The manuscript is at the Yerevan Madenadaran (Repository) #2595; Karozgirk of Patriarch Hagop Nalian, 1788, for Baghdasar Vartabed of Jerusalem.

Heghine Abashkharogh copied Iknadeos Vartabed’s Megnutiun Ghugasu in the 17th century. Exact date and place unknown.

Husdiane Kuys copied Anastas Kahana’s Aghotagirk and Yeprem the Assyrian‘s Zhamagirk and Aghotk in the 17th century.  Exact date and place unknown.

Mariam Grich is assumed to have copied a Karozagirk by Krikor Datevatsi in the 17th century. Since there were three other scribes named Mariam during this period, it is uncertain which Mariam is actually the one.


The eleven-stanza poem Srpuhi Mariam (Saint Mary), (translated by Diana Der Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian), is the only surviving work by the 8th century hermit Sahakdoukht Siunetsi (of Siunik), who was of noble birth.  Foreign invaders destroyed her works, just as they destroyed the countless works of numerous other Armenians throughout the centuries.  She spent her life in seclusion in a cave in Garni, located in the center of Armenia, near churches, monasteries, and a first-century pagan temple.  Sahakdoukht was a scholar, poet, and hymnographer.  She composed liturgical chants, wrote devotional poems, and, while seated behind a curtain, taught sacred music to musicians and students.  The following are the first two stanza’s of the poem:

             Saint Mary

Saint Mary, Incorruptible altar,
Giver of life, mother of life-giving words,
Blessed are you among women,
Joyful virgin mother of God.

And spiritual orchard, bright flower,
You conceived from God, as from rains
Flowing through the soul, the word,
And with the shield of your body
Made it apparent to men…


In a section from Kristonya Hayastan Hanragitaran (The Encyclopedia of Christian Armenia) titled Halidzori Kusanats Anapat (The Convent of Halidzor), the convent, located in Armenia’s Siunik Region, is described as follows:

Halidzor Convent is located in the Halidzor Fortress, on the slopes of a forested mountain, on the right bank of the Voghj River near the village of Bekh in the Kapan region of Siunik.  It was established during the first half of the 17th century.  In 1653, the Mother Superior of the convent was Hripsime, who is mentioned as a manuscript copier.  In 1668, the convent had 70 members.  In 1711, the abbot of Datev Monastery, Bishop Arakel, was viciously murdered at the convent.  In the 18th century, Davit Bek (a prominent military figure of noble lineage, died in 1728) converted the convent into a fortress due to its strategic position, and even then the convent operated as one.  In 1727, when the Turkish army surrounded Halidzor, the nuns participated in the fortress’ defense.  Walls on a square foundation surround the complex.  The only tower is located at the southwestern corner.  The church is built of basalt stone…and from the rooftop canons were used to fight the enemy.  The strategic position of the convent helped Davit Bek and his small group of fighters successfully defend against the numerous attacks of the thousands in the Turkish army.


Another example of the legacy left by the women monastics of the Armenian Apostolic Church is detailed in the book Tiflisi Surp Stepanos Kusanats Anapati Badmutiune (The History of Tiflis’s St. Stepanos Convent), which is in Holy Etchmiadzin’s library.  It was published at the request of Archdeacon Hripsime Tahiriants, who, in October 1911, was appointed Mother Superior of St. Stepanos Convent.  The generous and diligent nun-deaconess, upon realizing that a history of the convent had not been written, requested that Reverend Father Khoren Khutsyan write it.  She provided him with the archives and funds for the book’s publication.  The book contains several photos.

The destruction of a tombstone (Photo from Chookaszian’s book: Archag Fetvadjian)

The following are highlights from the 100-page book:

Hermetic life existed in Armenia even before Christianity.  The beginnings of Armenian Christianity are connected with the names of the virgins Hripsime and Gayane.  Convents came into existence in Armenia along with Christianity.  St. Nerses the Great established walled convents.  Women’s monastic life was not widespread, even now. 

St. Stepanos Convent, which had numerous nuns, was established in 1725 in Tiflis, Georgia.  Girls from prominent and noble or princely families and girls from poor families joined the convent.  Because of the convent’s high moral reputation, families also sent delinquent girls to the convent to be disciplined.  St. Stepanos’s Mariamyan-Hovnanyants Girls’ School was opened in 1877 with funds from Stepan Hovnanyants.  The school was built next to the convent and placed under the care of the nuns. 

Initially, nuns had no clerical status but were all equal.  Eventually, the seniority system developed and by 1780 St. Stepanos Convent had a Mother Superior.  Many of the girls who entered the convent were illiterate and spoke only Georgian, and therefore learned the prayers by memorization.  The prelate often visited the convent and encouraged the women to strive for even more education, especially in the study of Grabar (Classical Armenian).  When a postulant made her final decision to serve the church, the Catholicos approved her acceptance into the order. Sister Takuhi, the first Mother Superior of St. Stepanos served in that position from 1790 to 1799.  She came from a wealthy family and bequeathed her wealth to Jerusalem and Etchmiadzin.  In 1796, the Catholicos sent a few of the nuns to Astrakhan, Russia. 

Sister Knarik helping during baptism (photo provided by Father Chiftjian)

The names and dates of the women who served as Mother Superior at the convent after Takuhi were: Katarine Amaduni; Husdiane Asdvatsaduriants (1806-1839), who came from a wealthy family; Mariam; Gayane Ghorghanyan, a humble and affable person who entered the convent at age 14, began learning Armenian and church rituals, became a nun-deaconess, built a church to replace the convent chapel, wove many gold and silver threaded pieces for the Etchmiadzin and Jerusalem cathedrals, became Mother Superior in 1840 and served in that capacity for 35 years; Hripsime Begtabekyants was a tbir (acolyte) and a vocalist with music training; Yepemia Behboutyants; Katarine Arghutyan (of a princely family) entered the convent at age 7, ordained nun in 1836, became Mother Superior in 1877, and served in that capacity until 1898 during which time she made many renovations to the church and convent at her expense; Pepronia Khubyants entered the convent in 1826 at the age of 7; Heprosine Abamelikyan (of a princely family) entered the convent at age 13.  Hripsime Tahiriants, the daughter of a wealthy and influential family who wanted her to join the religious order, entered the convent at a very young age.  She became a nun-deaconess, initiated the writing of the bylaws of the convent for approval by the Catholics, and became the last Mother Superior at St. Stepanos. 

In an article about nuns on the official Web Site of The Armenian Church – Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the following was written about Archdeacon Hripsime Tahiriants, “With Sovietization, monastic life was disrupted, the nuns scattered, and the facility was confiscated.  In a destitute state, Sister Hripsime (who once donated great sums of money to wherever she saw the need) was given refuge in Holy Etchmiadzin where she eventually died.  Her burial place can be visited at the monastery of St. Gayane.”

Currently in Armenia, some of the nuns of the Surp Hripsimyants Order of The Armenian Apostolic Church are preparing to take minor orders.

In L. B. Chookaszian’s recently published book, the author has included photos of St. Stepanos Armenian Convent/Monastery in Tiflis, Georgia, before its takeover by the Georgian government and transformation into a Georgian church (between the late 20th century and first decade of the 21st century).  Also included in the book are photos documenting the Georgian government’s destruction of the monastery’s facade, altar and marble cross, and tombstones of the Armenian women monastics.


As mentioned in Part 1 of this article (The Armenian Weekly, July 6, 2013), Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, Primate of the Western Diocese, ordained Seta Simonian Atamian acolyte in Cupertino, California, in 1984, and in 2002 Archbishop Gisak Mouradian, Primate of Argentina, ordained Maria Ozkul to the diaconate.  I would like to add that in 1986 Donna Barsamian Sirounian, acolyte, served on the altar with Deaconess Hripsime Sasunian of the Kalfayan Sisterhood at St. Thomas Armenian Church in Tenafly, New Jersey, during her visit to the U.S.


In a recent email communication I had with the Very Reverend Father Krikor Chiftjian, Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Azerbaijan (Adrbadagan), Iran, he graciously provided the following information on St. Catherine’s Convent in New Julfa titled Surp Gadarinyan Menadune (St. Catherine’s Convent).  He also provided recent photos (taken by his staff at his request) of the complex, an old photo of the nuns (from a 2012 book titled The Immortals by Alice Navasartian), a photo of the nunnery, which is now a school, and a photo of a wool carpet made by the nuns. On the top right-hand corner of the carpet appears the date 1802.  “The carpet,” Father Chiftjian wrote, “is in the Prelacy of Isfahan, in the Prelate’s room, as a historical piece of art.”  In addition, he also provided information on the Halidzor Convent and the nun-deaconesses in Lebanon.

Saint Catherine’s Convent

The Convent is located in the Charsu neighborhood on the south side of St. Hovhan Church.  It was built in 1623.  The church, a small and simple building with 8 windows, is situated in the center of the courtyard of the convent.  On the upper part of the altar are paintings of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Virgin Mary…In the parishioner’s section hang the paintings of St. Catherine and St. Mesrop Mashdots.  At the baptismal font there is a small, double door with paintings of Jesus.  There are writings on the walls of the church.  An example is, “In Memory of Virgin Catherine.”

The convent has had up to 32 members.  It had very small cells on the eastern, southern, and northern sides of the church.  At the beginnings of the 20th century, the cells on the eastern and southern sides were demolished and in their place in 1907 Bagrat Vartabed Vartazarian built a two-story building to be used as an orphanage, workshop, and carpet factory.  On the western side of the building, there is a stained-glass window with the inscription, “St. Catherine’s Orphanage and Workshop, 1907.”

Of the nuns’ cells, only a few are left, one of which has paintings on the walls.  At the eastern entrance of the church, hangs the church’s wooden “bell” which in the past was used in place of a bell.  Recently, during the renovation of the church, a colorful painting was discovered on the external wall of the northern door.

In 1964, the building that housed the carpet factory, which consisted of a few rooms and located at the eastern side of the convent, was demolished.  The plan was to build an orphanage but instead a nursing home was built, which later was turned into apartments. 

In 1858, the first girls’ school was established at the convent.  In 1900, a separate building for the school was built and called Gadarinyan (Catherine’s) School.  The school still exists, but today it is a boys’ school.  At the present, on St. Catherine’s name day mass is performed at the convent’s church.

As the number of monastic women at the convent progressively decreased, the doors of St. Catherine’s were finally closed in 1954.

In C. Colliver Rice’s book (1923) titled Persian Women and Their Ways, the author includes a photograph of the wooden “bell” pictured with two of the nuns at St. Catherine’s Convent (page 185).  The caption below the photo reads, “Beating the board as a summons to worship is a relic of ancient times when there were no bells.  The sounds are soft and musical and very much like bells.”  On page 279, the author describes the work of one of the Armenian deaconesses in these words:  “There are various agencies at work in the hope of helping women to make good, among them the Mothers’ Union has branches in different towns, and has an Armenian deaconess working among the carpet-weavers of Kirman.  She is a trained nurse and has several weekly clinics for Moslem women of various classes, which are largely attended and increasingly appreciated.  There is a large branch of the Mothers’ Union among the Armenian women of Julfa.  They have a great idea of sharing the help they get with others.”

In his email, Father Chiftjian (born 1969, Beirut, Lebanon), wrote that before his election as prelate in 2012, he served from 2009 to 2011 as the “spiritual advisor and dean of the Gayanayants Sisterhood in Jbeil, Lebanon, and the spiritual director of the Bird’s Nest Orphanage.”  In 1983, the Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, under Catholicos Karekin II, founded the Sisterhood.  Among the Sisters’ various duties are the care and nurturing of the children at the orphanage and assisting the priest during the baptism of orphans.  To date, the Gayanyants Sisterhood has three nun-deacons.  They are Knarik Gaypakian, Shnorhig Boyadjian, and Gayane Badakian.

Among Father Chiftjian’s numerous accomplishments since his ordination as celibate priest in 1990 was the position of staff bearer to Catholicos Karekin II and, after the latter became Catholicos Karekin I of All Armenians in 1994, the new Catholicos’s secretary.  Father Chiftjian has taught at the Kevorkian Academy in Etchmiadzin, authored 20 books, and edited more than 20 publications.


Although the following women were not monastics, they served the Armenian Church and Nation by having churches built.  The 2007 calendar of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Built by Women, highlights their work.

Princess Mariam, daughter of King Ashot I Bagratuni and wife of Prince Vasak Gabur of Siunik, built Sevanavank in 874 AD.

Queen Mlke and King Gagik Artsruni of Armenia’s Vaspurakan Region built Surp Khach Church of Aghtamar Island in 915-921.

Princess Sopia (Ajarian spelling), sister of King Gagik Artsruni and wife of Prince of princes Smpad of Siunik, built Gndevank in 931-936, which later became a monastery.

Queen Khosrovanush, wife of King Ashot the Merciful, authorized the construction of Haghpat Monastery in 976-991.

Queen Khushush (Ajarian spelling), daughter of King Gagik Bagratuni and wife of King Senekerim of Vaspurakan, sponsored the construction of Surp Sopia Church of Varag Monastery in 981.

Queen Catherinade, daughter of King Vasak I of Siunik and wife of King Gagik I Bagratuni, continued the construction of the Ani Cathedral after the death of her husband, in 998-1001.

Note: The Convent of Ani, at Ani, is believed to have had a community of nuns. The convent is also known as the Hripsimian Kusanant Vank, Kusanats Vank, and Surp Hripsime.  It was built sometime between the early 11th and early 13th centuries.  Photos of the convent are included in the book Armenia:1700 Years of Christian Architecture.

Princess Shahandukht, daughter of King Sevada the Glorious and wife of Prince Smbat of Siunik, built Vorotnavank in 1000.

Princess Mariam, daughter of King Gyurige II, built one of the three churches named Mariamashen in the monastic complex of Kobayravank in 1171.

Arzukhatun, a noblewoman of the Vakhtangian princely dynasty, a painter, embroiderer, and weaver, revitalized Dadivank in 1214 (date in Ulubabyan), and built a church that surrounded the graves of her husband and two sons.

Mamakhatun and her husband, Prince Vache Vachutian, constructed Saghmosavank in 1215.  In 1232, Mamakhatun was the principal supporter of the construction of Tegheri Monastery.

Princess Gontsa, under her patronage, initiated the construction of Spitakavor Surp Asdvadzadzin Church in 1301.



Ajarian, Hratchya. Hayots Antsnanunneri Bararan (Dictionary of Armenian Personal Names). Aleppo: Kilikia, 2006.

Anahid, Flora. “Women In Western (Turkish) Armenian Culture.”  A.R.S. (Armenian Relief Society) Quarterly 10, no. 1 (October 1948): 54.

Asadur, Melkon.  “Mayrabednern Ukhdavor” (Pilgrim Nuns), a poem. Sion (Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem), (May 19, 1933).

Chookaszian, L. B. Archag Fetvadjian. Yerevan: Printinfo, 2011.

Hasratyan, Murad and Sargsyan, Zaven. Hayastan: Kristonyakan Jartarapetutyan 1700 Tarin (Armenia: 1700 Years of Christian Architecture). Yerevan: Moughni Publishers, 2001.

Haykakan Sovetakan Hanragitaran (Soviet-Armenian Encyclopedia), vol. 8. Yerevan, 1982.

Khutsyan, Reverend Khoren. Tiflisi Surp Stepanos Kusanats Anapati Badmutiune (The History of St. Stepanos Convent of Tiflis). Tiflis (Georgia): Esperanto, 1914.

Kristonya Hayastan Hanragitaran (Encyclopedia of Christian Armenia). “Halidzori Kusanats Anapat” (The Convent of Halidzor). (Place and date unavailable.)

Mkrtichian, Samuel, ed. Selected Armenian Poets. “Srpuhi Mariam” (Saint Mary), a poem. Yerevan (Armenia): Samson Publishers, 1993.

Navasartian, Alice. The Immortals. (Place and publisher unavailable, 2012.)

Oghlukian, Father Abel.  The Deaconess In the Armenian Church – A Brief Survey. New   Rochelle (New   York): St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 1994.

Rice, C. Colliver. Persian Women and Their Ways. London: 1923.

The Armenian Church, Etchmiadzin, Armenia, Web Site. “Nuns.” Accessed in 2013.

Tsovagan, Bishop Nerses. “Hay Grchuhiner” (Armenian Women Scribes). Sion (April-May, 1954): 133-135.

Ulubabyan, Bagrat. Artsakhi Badmutiune (The History of Arstakh). Yerevan: M. Varandian, 1994.


The author would like to express her deep appreciation to the following for kindly responding to her inquiries regarding The Armenian Apostolic Church and for graciously providing material on the subject:

Deacon Levon Altiparmakian, Director of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, New Rochelle, NY.

Archbishop Aram Atesyan, Deputy General of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey.

Very Reverend Father Krikor Chiftjian, Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Azerbaijan (Adrbadagan), Iran.

Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate, Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

Ms. Hasmik Melkonyan of the Etchmiadzin Library, Etchmiadzin, Armenia.


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