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A mosaic of Mkhitar Sebastatsi (1676–1749), an Armenian Catholic monk and theologian regarded as a vardapet. The work is in the Monastery of San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice, Italy, which was established by Mkhitar as the headquarters of the Mechitarist Order of Benedictine monks.


Borrowed from Armenian վարդապետ (vardapet), from Old Armenian վարդապետ (vardapet, teacher; vardapet), from a South-Western Iranian word of the form *vard(a)-pet (literally master of students; master of work), ultimately from Proto-Iranian *warj- (to do; to work; to till the land) (from Proto-Indo-European *werǵ- (to make), whence Old Persian vard- (to work) in the given name 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎺𐎼𐎮𐎡𐎹 (Artavardiya-)) + Proto-Iranian *pati- (from Proto-Indo-European *pótis (master; ruler), whence Old Armenian պետ (pet, chief, commander), Parthian *pet).



vardapet (plural vardapets)

  1. (Christianity) A highly educated archimandrite in the Armenian Apostolic Church tradition who holds a Doctorate in Theology.
    • 1741, Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, “Letter VIII. Of the Manners, Religion, and Commerce of the Armenians”, in A Voyage into the Levant: Perform'd by Command of the Late French King. [...], volume III, London: Printed for D. Midwinter, R. Ware, C[harles] Rivington, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton, T[homas] Longman, R. Hett, C. Hitch, S. Austen, J. Wood, and J. & H. Pemberton, OCLC 642372591, page 243:
      There is nothing particular to be mention'd concerning the Archbiſhops and Biſhops of the Armenians, [] It were only to be wiſh'd they diſcharg'd their Duty; but they have no Zeal, and are ſunk into the moſt wretched Ignorance, and are often less eſteem'd than the Vertabiets. Sometimes they are Biſhops and Vertabiets at the same time, that is to ſay, Bishops and Doctors. These Vertabiets, who make ſuch a noiſe among the Armenians, are not in reality great Doctors; but they are the moſt conſiderable Men of the Country, or at leaſt paſs for ſuch.
    • 1844 July, “A Friend—Vacillation of the Vartabed”, in The Missionary Herald. Containing the Proceedings of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions: With a View of Other Benevolent Operations, volume XL, number 7, Boston, Mass.: Press of T. R. Martin, 24 Congress Street, OCLC 648494593, page 233, column 1:
      At the hour appointed most of the brethren met at the house of the vartabed; but found no one there to accuse or oppose them. They now had considerable conversation with the vartabed, and gave him some wholesome advice.
    • 1860 October, “Proceedings of the American Oriental Society. New Haven, October 17th and 18th, 1860.”, in Journal of the American Oriental Society, volume VII, New Haven, Conn.: For the American Oriental Society, printed by E. Hayes, printer to Yale College, published 1862, OCLC 863044607, page iii:
      Cyriacus of Gandzak, vardapet, a writer of the 13th century. He has composed a History of Armenia, covering a period of near a thousand years. [] Vardan Vardapet of Baretzer-berd, of the 13th century, a fellow-disciple of Cyriacus of Gandzak, profoundly learned, and especially distinguished as a linguist. He has left us a complete history of Armenia from the time of Haik down to his own period.
    • 1867 July, “Mission Work in Turkey”, in The Missionary Magazine, volume XLVII, number 7, Boston, Mass.: American Baptist Missionary Union, Missionary Rooms, 12, Bedford Street, OCLC 10132178, page 214, column 1:
      The hardest trial of all to bear was the cruel bastinado, which the vartabad at length resorted to, seeing that other means failed. A young man was called into the presence of this church dignitary, and required to sign the patriarch's creed. Refusing to comply, he was placed on the floor and beaten with sticks on the soles of his feet, the vartabad assisting with his own hands in inflicting this cruelty.
    • 1930, Kevork A[vedis] Sarafian, History of Education in Armenia, La Verne, Calif.: Press of the La Verne Leader, OCLC 3418049, page 28:
      Even if these treatises are not Mantagouni's but were written in imitation of Saint Chrysostom, the fact that they are addressed by an Armenian Vartabet (learned doctor) to the Armenian people is an evidence that theaters existed in Armenia. This, in its own turn, is an evidence of high culture and civilization among the Armenians.
    • 1961, Donald Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, volume 2 (Churches not in Communion with Rome), new edition, Leominster, Herefordshire: Thomas More Books, OCLC 5131323, page 227:
      A peculiar and important rank in the Armenian hierarchy, conferred by a sort of ordination rite, is that of vartapet. He is a hieromonk or widowed priest of superior learning and ability, especially authorized to preach and teach.
    • 1991, Avedis K. Sanjian, “The Historical Setting”, in Thomas F. Mathews and Avedis K. Sanjian; Thomas F. Mathews, editor, Armenian Gospel Iconography: The Tradition of the Glajor Gospel (Dunbarton Oaks Studies; 29), Washington, D.C.: Dunbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, ISBN 978-0-88402-183-4, page 23, column 1:
      Something of the structure of the school of Glajor can be inferred from the hierarchy of terms used for teachers, though one must be careful not to try to translate these into ranks of modern university professors, as Xač‘eryan has done. Lowest in the hierarchy was the rabuni or "master," a term borrowed from the Hebrew; somehow more accomplished was the rabunapet or "headmaster"; and still more distinguished was the vardapet, literally "head teacher." [] It is clear that there was a certain formality involved in the training and promotion of a person to the rank of vardapet. Mxit‘ar Goš lays down in his Law Book that a cleric could be admitted to the rank of vardapet only after he had satisfied a panel of two or three vardapets about the level of his learning, though his training might have been under just a single vardapet. The vardapet was regarded as having a special authority to teach.
    • 2008, Christopher [Hatch] MacEvitt, “The Price of Unity: Ecumenical Negotiations and the End of Rough Tolerance”, in The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance (Middle Ages Series), Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, →ISBN, page 167:
      Nerses's negotiations with the Byzantines were in part a show performed for the vardapets; the discussions were held at Hromgla, the patriarchal residence, not in Constantinople or some other neutral city.

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