Archbishop Zaven Chinchinian was born in September 1929 in Aleppo, Syria, and given the baptismal name of Gevork. He received his primary education in the School of the Holy Translators in Jerusalem. In 1945 he was accepted as a student in the Seminary of the Monastery of St. James of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He was ordained a deacon in 1949.
In May 1951, he was ordained as a celibate priest and given the new name Zaven. He began teaching at the School of the Holy Translators, and was concurrently assigned as director of the printing house for the Monastery. From 1953 to 1957, he was assistant to the editor of "Sion", the official monthly of the Patriarchate.
In 1954, he received the rank of Vardapet (Archimandrite). In 1957, Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan granted Fr. Zaven the right to wear the flowered cope and pectoral cross. In 1958, he relocated to Alexandria, Egypt, and assumed the responsibilities of Vicar of the Diocese.
In Alexandria in 1963, Catholicos of All Armenians His Holiness Vasken I of blessed memory, granted the rank of Dzayraguyn Vardapet (Senior Archimandrite) to Fr. Zaven. In 1965, His Holiness Vasken I ordained and consecrated him a bishop in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.
In 1969, Bishop Zaven was elected Locum Tenens of the Armenian Diocese of Egypt. In 1974, he departed from Egypt and continued his service in South America, in the Armenian Church Dioceses of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. He also briefly served in the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).
In 1977, responding to the desire of the Armenian community of Egypt, His Holiness Vasken I issued a Pontifical Encyclical, appointing Bishop Zaven as Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Egypt. Soon afterwards, in appreciation for his many years of devoted service, the Catholicos of All Armenians bestowed on him the rank of Archbishop.
At present, His Eminence was a member of the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Church for decades, being originally appointed during the reign of Catholicos Vasken I.
For many years, His Eminence served as president of the Ecumenical Prayer Meetings of the Christian Churches of Egypt during his tenure as Primate of the Diocese.
Archbishop Zaven was the author of many books, research papers and articles.
January 20, 2004 Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Information Services