Austria Released Stamp on 200 years of the Mekhitarists in Vienna

\"\"It was on 18 February 1811 when the Mekhitarists and their then abbot Archbishop Babikian moved into their new monastery in Vienna in a huge solemn ceremony. Today, 200 years later, this event is being celebrated with a commemorative stamp with an elegant and attractive motif showing a valuable antique bookcase from the Mekhitarists' library, the home to a treasure of inestimable value in the form of around 2,600 manuscripts, 160,000 books and 170,000 journal volumes.

Faced by the need to find a new home, the Mekhitarist fathers who had fled to Vienna decide to make the city their new home and residence, a decision that was no doubt helped along by their good connections to the imperial family, a relationship based on mutual interests. In addition to their cultural and spiritual work, the Mekhitarists provided important services for the monarchy and its reputation abroad. The Armenian fathers as it were polished up the image of the imperial family through their schools in the orient and their missionary activities, carrying the Austrian cultural heritage to these distant lands and providing important cultural policy services. The congregation was completely penniless, and was helped from many quarters in Vienna, including the population of the city, who helped their popular “Padri Armeni” to overcome their greatest need. As a new home, they were provided with the former Capuchin monastery “Am Platzl” in the suburb of St. Ulrich, now in the 7th District of Vienna. It was here that the new Mekhitarist monastery was later to be built.

Under the successors of the first Mekhitarist Abbot General Azarian, the congregation experienced a “golden age”, both in the field of science and in terms of building activity. The latter also concerned the purchase of a new summer residence. In 1829, the Mekhitarists had acquired the Zeilern estate near Melk in Lower Austria. However, this was then sold as being too far from the city, given the traffic conditions of the time. It was replaced by the closer former Franciscan monastery in Klosterneuburg, which was converted into a summer residence. However, a fire in St. Ulrich made it necessary to rebuild the mother house in Vienna. The plans were drawn up by the Viennese architect Joseph Kornhäusel, who also built the Vienna Scottish Monastery and who had also previously planned the chapel in the summer residence in Klosterneuburg.


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