By Edmond Y. Azadian
Holy places, which were meant to be lands of peace, have proven to be some of the most tortured regions of the world. And Armenians, with their traditional penchant for inhabiting troubled areas, have shared the plight of Jerusalem for more than two millennia.
It is believed that Armenians settled in Jerusalem during the reign of Tigranes II, who had claimed Jerusalem, at one time, to be part of his vast empire, during his reign 95 to 55 BC. But the Armenian monastic order in Jerusalem, the Brotherhood of St. James, dates back to the sixth century.
As Armenians have shared the perilous saga of Jerusalem with the religious orders of other faiths, they have been fortunate over the years to have amassed real estate as well as religious, scholarly and artistic treasures. Kings, princes, intellectuals and ordinary pilgrims have endowed the St. James Monastery with immeasurable treasures, believing that the Brotherhood will act as custodians of those treasures, rather than owners. But human weakness sometimes has played a more prominent role than faith by those in charge, thereby compounding the internal problems of the Patriarchate with problems created by outside forces.
With the loss of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian on October 12, 2012, of blessed memory, the Brotherhood and the Patriarchate face new challenges which come with the succession procedures.
Archbishop Manoogian served for 22 years as Patriarch, having been elected on March 22, 1990.