About us

The Armenian parish of Italy was founded in 1955 having S. Forty Martyrs’ church (S. Qarasun Mankunq) of Milan as its center. The first settlement of Armenians in Italy has begun since the Roman Empire. The very first information about the medieval period comes from the 6th and 7th centuries. It is mentioned about the churches built by the Armenians still from the 12th century. It can also be mentioned about the ecclesiastical title “Bishop of Armenians in Italy” since the 14th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries there are mentioned about more than 40 Armenian churches and monasteries subordinated to the Armenian Apostolic Church in Northern, Central and Southern Italy, especially in Venice, Trieste, Ravenna, Genoa, Rome and Naples. The Armenian communities in Italy had their spiritual pastors: priests, archemandrits, which like dioceses or communitarian states, were also controlled by an Archbishop or a bishop. Next to the church there were hospitals as well as Armenian Houses where Armenians were taken care of and Armenian traders could stay there. Still in the 10th century the Armenian church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator functioned in Naples. He is considered the patron saint of Naples, and for this occasion his feast is celebrated until now. In the church of S. Gregory called Armenian there are kept his relics. In the occasion of Catholicos of all Armenians Garegin B Nersisyan’s visit to Vatican (11/11/2000) a part of the relics was given to His Holiness. The Holy Remains were brought in Yerevan and are kept in the gavit of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Cathedral. It is also mentioned about the church of Holy Spirit (Surb Hogi) in Naples (1328). Saint Hakob church was built in Rome in the 10th century. From the 11th century is remembered the Armenian Church S. Barsegh in Milan. While the Barsegyan ecclesiastical congregation functioned from 1342-1650. There was founded a monastery in Pisa in 1320, which according to a necrological inscription belonged to Armenians for more than 100 years. In this monastery were copied manuscripts that are now kept in the National Library of Vienna and in the Ambrosian Library of Milan. In 1307 in Genoa Armenians built the convent and the church of St. Bartholomew /survived until 1650/. It is mentioned about the church and monastery of St. John the Baptist in Venice, as well as in 1434 about the Church of Saint Cross (Surb Khach), which belongs to the congregation Mekhitarists since 1717. At the end of the 14th century because of the persecution of the Inquisition and the forced conversion to Catholicism, the Armenian ecclesiastical institutions passed under the control of the local catholic institutions. The current community of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Italy is created in the early 1900’s by the Armenian immigrants from Turkey and the other countries of Near East which settled in the cities of Northern Italy such as Milan as well as in other cities and towns. The first parish priest was ordained the Pastor Y. Parsamian (1924-1937). After his death the Armenian community for a decade and a half had guest pastors from Paris, Marseille, Vienne. On the eve of World War II was created the Armenian Unity in Italy, the status of which has been ratified by the Italian government. At the beginning of the 1950s the religious ceremonies were celebrated at the Anglican Church of All Saints in Milan. In 1995 the authorities in Rome with Italian Presidential Decree recognized the community of believers of the Armenian Apostolic Church, giving official permission to build the Armenian Church. Now the only functioning church in Milan is the Church of S. Forty Martyrs, built in 1957 (architects R.Iisraelian, P. Suryan), the church was consecrated in 1958. The member of S. Hakobyants congregation Bishop Zgon Ter-Hakobyan was invited as pastor (1955-75). He was followed by Reverend Jirayr Archemandrit Tashcyan (1975-77). Then was sent Rev. Sargis Sargisian (1977-2004). Subsequently Rev. Aren Archemandrit Shahinian (2004-2012). In 1986 there was erected a Khachqar in memory of the victims of Genocide of 1915 in the court of the church. According to the spiritual statute, the church has a board of trustees elected by the community. The Armenian House is located in Milan. The Armenian spiritual pastor of Italy is Father Tovma Khachatryan from 2012.