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MECHITAR


102


MECHITARISTS


ble to simplp phpnomena in such a manner that the ulliniato realities of the material world arc mass and motion. This system has rendered signal service", it exhibits in great clearness the material causes or phe- nomena; incleed, this explains why its formulae may, in exceptional cases, provide a fornnila applicable to some fact as yet unknown. But it is impossblc to re- gard Mechanism as a real representation of our uni- verse. It wrouglit its own ruin when it claimed a scope and a significance which are denied it by the reality of things and the exigencies of logic.

.^11 general treatises on philosophy give at least a few pages to Mechanism. See also: METiclER^Psycholooic, I (Louvam, 1905); Nts, Cosmotogie (2nd ed., Louvam, 1906); Tilmann Pesch. Die grossen Weltriilsd (Freiburg, 1907); Gemelu. L'Enigma delta mta e i nuovi orizzonti delta biologia (Florence, 1910); OsTWALD, Vorlesungenuber Naturphiloaovhie (Leipzig, 1905) ; Driesch, Der Vitalismus als Gesch. u. als Lehre (Leipzig, 1905); DE MuNNYNCK. Les bases psi/chologiques du Micanisme in Revue des sciences philos. et thiol. (Kain, Belgium, 1907); Brunhes, La Degradation de VEnergie (Paris, 1908).

M. P. DE MUNNTNCK.

Mechitar (Mechith.^e, Mekhitah, Mchitak or MocHTOR, a word which means "Comforter"), is the name taken by Peter Manuk, founder of the rehgious order of Xlechitarists, when he became a monk. A native of Sebaste (Sivas) in Lesser Armenia, b. 7 Fel> ruary, 1676, of parents reputed noble, he was left until the age of fifteen in the care of two pious nuns. Then he entered the cloister of the Holy Cross near Sebaste, and the same year (1691), was ordained deacon Ijy Bishop Ananias. Shortly aften\'ards, impelled by his thirst for knowledge, he left the cloister — not putting off the habit or infringing his vows (the Eastern monk could, for a proper reason, lawfully leave the enclo- sure) and set forth, in the company of a doctor of that city, for Etchmiadzin, the capital of Greater Armenia, persuaded that it was the centre of civiliza- tion and the home of all the sciences. During the journey he met with a European missionary and a fellow Armenian, whose accounts of the wonders of the West changed the course of his life. Stirred with an admiration of Western culture and the desire to introduce it among his countrymen, he wan- dered from place to place, earning a scanty living by teaching. After eighteen months he returned to Sebaste where he remained for some time, still ambi- tious to stufly Western civilization. Even then he had conceived the idea of founding a religious society — suggested, doubtless, Ijy the well-intentioned but long since suppressed association of the " United Brothers" •^which would labour to introduce Western ideas and Western influence into Armenia. This would imply a fonnal re-union of the Armenian Church with Rome, and there would be an end of that wavering between Constantinople and Rome, so injurious to the spiritual and intellectual welfare of his country. At Sebaste, he devoted liimself to the reading of the Armenian sacred writers and the Syrian and Greek Fathers in translations, and, after a vain attempt to reach Eu- rope from Alexandria, he was ordained priest (1696) in his own city, and (1699) received the title and stafi of doctor (Vartabed). Then he began to preach, and went to Constantinople with the intention of founding an Armenian College. He continued his preaching there, generally in the church of St. George, gathered some disciples around him, and distinguished himself by his advocacy of union with the Holy See. Serious trouble ensued with a violent persecution of the Cath- olics by the Turks, excited by the action of Count Ferrol, minister of Louis XIV at Stamboul, who car- ried off to Paris the anti-CathoUc Patriarch of Con- stantinople. Naturally, the fervour of Mechitar and his disciples in the Catholic cause, and the success of their preaching singled them out for special attention. The two patriarchs, urged by a schismatic, Avedik, led the attack. Mechitar wisely dismissed his disciples and himself took refuge in a Capuchin convent under French protection. Pursued by his enemies, he es-


caped to the Morea, thence to Venetian territory, find- ing shelter in a .lesuit house. He attributed his safety to our Blessed Lady, under whose protection, on 8 Sept., the Feast of her Nativity, he had solemnly placed liimself and his society.

The Venetians kindly gave him some property at Modon (1701), where he built a church and convent, and laid the foundations of the Mechitarist Order. Clement XI gave it formal approval in 1712, and ap- pointed Mechitar Abbot. Three years later war broke out between Venice and the Porte, and the new abbey was in jeopardy. The abbot, leaving seventy of his monks behintl, crossed over to Venice with sixteen companions with the intention of beginning a second foundation. It was well that he did so for the Vene- tians were defeated and the Morea was regained by the Turks. Modon was taken, the monastery destroyed and the monks dispersed. The house rented at Ven- ice proved too small and Mechitar exerted all his influence to obtain the gift of San Lazzaro, an island about two miles south-east of the city, not far from the Lido. His request granted, he restored the old ruined church, and a second time built a monasterj- for his monks. This establishment has remained undisturbed in the hands of the Meeliitarists to the present day. At S. Lazzaro he devised many schemes for the re- generation of his country. An accusation brought against him at Rome — not a personal charge but one connected with the labours undertaken by the order — resulted in a better understanding with the Holy See, and the personal friendship of the pope. He lived at S. Lazzaro for tliirty years, busy with his printing- press and his literary labours, and died at the age of seventy-four, on 16 April, 1749. Since his death he is always spoken of by his children as the Abbas Pater, Abbai hairm (see Mechitabists).

The most important of his literary works are the following: "Commentary on the Gospel of St. Mat- thew" (1737); "Commentary on Ecclesiasticus" (Venice); "Armenian Grammar"; "Armenian Gram- mar of the Vulgar Tongue"; "Armenian Dictionary" (1744, and in two volumes, Venice, 1749-69); "Ar- menian Catecliism", both in the literary and vulgar tongues; "A Poem on the Blessed Virgin"; "Ar- menian Bible" (1734).

Vita deir abbntc Mechitar (Venice, 1810); La vie du serviteur de Dieu Mechitar, fondateur de Vordre de^ moines arm&niena M echitaristes de Venise, ainsi que La vie des abbes generaux et des moines les plus celibres de la congregation (Venice, 1901).

J. C. Almond.

Mechitarists, Armenian Benedictines, founded by Mecliitar in 1712. In its inception the order was looked upon merely as an attempted reform of Eastern monachism. P. Filippo Bonanni, S.J., writes at Rome, in 1712 when the order received its approval, of the arrival of P. Elias Martyr and P. Joannes Simon, two Armenian monks sent by Mechitar to Pope Clement XI to offer His Holiness the most humble subjection of himself and convent (ut ei se cum suis religiosis humillime subjicercl). There is no men- tion, at the moment, of the Benedictine rule. The monks, such as St. Anthony instituted in EgjTst (quos St. Antonius in Aegypto instituerat) , have begun a foundation in Modon with Mechitar (Mochtar) as abbot.

After two years' noviceship, they take the usual vows, with a fourth in addition — " to give obedience to the preceptor or master deputed by their superior to teach them the dogmas of the Catholic Faith ". Many of them vow themselves also to missionary work in Armenia, Persia, and Turkey, where they live on alms and wear as a badge, beneath the tunic, a cross of red cloth, on which are certain letters signifying their desire to shed their blood for the Catholic Faith. They promise on oath to work together in harmony so that they may the better win the schismatics back to God. They elect an abbot for life, who has the power