On Thursday, January 24, the St. James Brotherhood elected Archbishop Nourhan Manougian to lead the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He will succeed the late Archbishop Torkom Manoogian as the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Patriarch Nourhan Manougian’s ministry has taken him to three continents in the service of the Armenian Church and people. Born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1948, he entered the seminary of the Catholicate of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, at the age of 14: a turning point which set him on the road of the priestly vocation.
In 1966 he applied and was immediately accepted to the theological seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. There, under the tutelage of such figures as the late Patriarch Yeghishe Derderian and the historian Hrant Nakashian, the young man—now a deacon—showed a special taste and aptitude for literature, especially the works of the Armenian canon as well as those of writers like Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Wilde, and Dostoyevsky. His student days at the Patriarchate culminated in his ordination to the priesthood and his acceptance of membership in the St. James brotherhood, in 1971.
After an additional year in the Holy City serving as assistant to the dean of the seminary, he accepted a post as pastor to the Armenians of Switzerland. Subsequently, he returned to the Middle East to teach at the Sts. Tarkmanchats secondary school, and went on to serve as the pastor to the Armenian communities of Jaffa and Haifa. In 1980, he left for Europe again—this time to serve the Armenian community of Holland.
During a visit to the U.S. shortly thereafter, Fr. Nourhan was encouraged by the Diocesan Primate of the time, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, to pursue graduate studies at New York’s General Theological Seminary. Fr. Nourhan’s subsequent service to the Eastern Diocese included tenures as pastor of the St. Mark Church of Springfield, MA, and the St. Kevork Church of Houston, TX.
Fr. Nourhan returned to Jerusalem at the request of the late Patriarch, His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian; there Fr. Nourhan was elected Grand Sacristan of the Holy See in 1998. A year later, the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, elevated him to the episcopal rank.
During his decade and a-half as Grand Sacristan, Archbishop Manougian was an extremely influential figure in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter and in the city’s broader religious circles—second only to the Patriarch himself. In the Holy City’s frequently unpredictable and even combative inter-religious and political arenas, Archbishop Manougian was a commanding advocate for the Armenian Christian community, defending and preserving its long historic presence in the region.
On January 24, 2013, during the 22nd session of the general assembly of the St. James monastic brotherhood, Archbishop Nourhan Manougian was elected as the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, succeeding Patriarch Torkom and continuing a line that extends back to the first Armenian Patriarch of the Holy City, the 7th-century figure Abraham.