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Catholicos Karekin II

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His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II (in Eastern Armenian, Garegin) was born Ktrich Nersessian in 1951 (conflicts with date August 21, 1954) in the village of Voskehat Village, near Echmiadzin. He graduated from the seminary of Holy Echmiadzin with honors in 1971. He was ordained a deacon in 1970 and a monk in 1972, at which time he received the priestly name "Karekin".

Shortly thereafter, His Holiness Vasken I (Catholicos of All Armenians, 1956-1994) sent the new priest to Vienna to study theology. In 197S, Fr. Nersissian moved to Germany, where he graduated from Bonn University while serving as pastor to the local Armenian community.

Following a brief return to Armenia, he enrolled in postgraduate studies at the Russian Orthodox Academy in Zagorsk, Russia, from which he graduated in 1979.

Appointed head of Araratian Pontifical diocese in June 1983, he was elevated to the rank of bishop on October 23 of that year by the hand of His Holiness Vasken I. Catholicos Vasken granted him the title of "archbishop" in November 1992. Following the death of Catholicos Vasken I, Archbishop Nersissian was a candidate for the pontifical throne during the National Ecclesiastical Assembly of April 1995, but conceded victory to His Holiness Karekin Sarkissian, who thereafter became Catholicos Karekin I (Catholicos of All Armenians, 1995-1999]. The latter, being treated for cancer in New York City, appointed Archbishop Nersissian as the Vicar General of Holy Echmiadzin in November 1998, in which capacity Nersissian served until the late Catholicos' death in June 1999.

In late October 1999, the Armenian Church chose a successor to the deceased Catholicos Karekin I. Armenian Church communities around the world sent delegations of lay and clerical leaders to Armenia, to deliberate and elect a new Catholicos, the 132nd in a continuous line dating back to the 4th century. On October 27, 1999, Archbishop Nersissian was elected, and following his consecration and enthronement on November 4, he took the name and title of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

In this capacity, Catholicos Karekin II presides over the Supreme Spiritual Council (the Armenian Church's governing college of bishops), and is the chief shepherd of the world's 7 million Armenian Apostolic Christians.

Primary source: Armenian Government.