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Diocese of Erzerum

Kings of Armenia established here their summer residence

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Erzerum (THEODOSIOPOLIS), Diocese of (ERZERUMIENSIS ARMENIORUM). The native name, Garin (Gr. Karenitis; Arab. Kalikelah), is still used by the Armenians. The kings of Armenia established here their summer residence. Later Garin fell into the power of the Byzantines, who named it Theodosiopolis (415), under which title it is still a Latin titular see. It became then a Greek bishopric, suffragan to Caesarea of Cappadocia. Three bishops are known at this period, Peter (448), Manasses (451), and another Peter (553). (See Lequien, Or. christ., I, 437.) This ecclesiastical situation lasted at least until the ninth century. In the eleventh century, owing to a confusion with another Theodosiopolis in Mesopotamia, the see passed under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch. From 622 to 633, a great council, which brought about a temporary union of the Armenian and Greek Churches, was held at Garin; the Emperor Heraclius attended with the Armenian and Greek patriarchs and many bishops of both Churches (Hefele, III, 73, 132). In 1201 the city was plundered by the Seljuk Turks, who named it Erzerum, which appears to mean “the country of the Romans”, that is to say of the Greeks, though some think that the name is a corruption of Arzen er-Roum, Arzen being an ancient Armenian city in the neighborhood. Erzerum was captured in 1214 by the sultans of Iconium, in 1387 by Timur-Leng, in 1400 by the Osmanli Turks. In 1430 it fell into the power of local dynasties, which held it under the hegemony of Persia until 1514, when it passed again to the Osmanlis. In 1828 and 1878 it was occupied by the Russians. In 1859 it was almost destroyed by an earthquake.

Erzerum is built at an altitude of over six thousand feet on a hill, which is surrounded by mountains of some ten thousand feet in height. The climate is healthful, but rigorous. Winter lasts eight and summer only four months. The Western Euphrates (Kara Su) is about four miles from the city. Garin is the capital of a vilayet and has a population of about 40,000, of whom 27,000 are Turks, the rest Armenians, Greeks, and a few Europeans (about 900 Catholics, mostly Armenians). The city is divided into three parts: the citadel, near the center of the city, the city proper surrounded by a double wall, and four suburbs. There are 65 mosques, many churches, and several large bazaars. The chief industries are blacksmiths’ and coppersmiths’ work. Besides the Greek metropolitan, still subject to the Patriarch of Antioch, Gregorian and Catholic Armenian bishops reside at Erzerum. The Diocese of Theodosiopolis (Erzerum) was reestablished in 1850 and on July 10, 1883, divided into the Dioceses of Erzerum and Mush. The former diocese has (1909) 10,000 faithful, 38 priests, 30 parishes, 66 churches or chapels, a seminary, 19 schools with about 1000 pupils, and a hospital. Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have a monastery. Two Capuchins conduct the Latin mission.



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