Town plan of Sis at the beginning of the 20th century (See details below in left column)

Sis - Schools

Authors: Anna Poghosyan/Vahé Tachjian - 12/08/14 (Last modified: 13/09/14) Translator: Khatchig Mouradian

Declared the capital of Cilician Armenia in 1173, the seat of an Armenian Catholicosate, and known not only for its royal palace, religious and other architecture, but for being a leading center of Armenian culture, Sis “barely measured up to a village” in the Ottoman period. [1]

Sis/Kozan circa 1920 (Source: photograph by Father Gabriel Bretocq, Archives départementales de l’Eure, Fonds Gabriel Bretocq)

That’s how Misak Keleshian describes Sis in his work “Sis-Madian” (Book of Sis), which presents imagery and detailed information on Sis in that period. Based on the material in that oeuvre, we present in this article the Armenian schools and educational system in Sis, and discuss the reasons behind its lack of an organized educational system at the time—unlike for example Harput/Kharpert and Ayntab—despite its great educational tradition, [2] and despite being a religious center—which would generally suggest being a center of education as well. Far from it, schools in Sis were neglected, and the small educational initiatives there were, by and large, taken by individuals.

Sis. The Garabedian family, 1911.
Seated, center (from left): Krikor Garabedian (wearing a fez), Marie Garabedian (wife of Garabed). Standing between Krikor and Marie: Yester, their daughter. Back row, standing (from left): Samuel (wearing a fez, Krikor’s son), Samuel’s wife (name unknown), a child held by her mother, Sirvart (held by her mother), Sirvart’s mother (Garabed’s wife, name unknown), Garabed Garabedian (Krikor’s son), Nazo Garabedian (Krikor’s son). Seated, on flour (from left): Samuel’s child, Harout (Krikor’s son). The two children standing on the left of Krikor are his grandchildren (Samuel’s children). The names of Samuel’s four children are Haygazoun, Karekin, Siragan, Victoria. Samuel and Garabed are Krikor’s sons from his first marriage. After the death of his wife, Krikor remarried with Marie, with whom they had three children: Nazo, Harout, Yester (Source: Garabedian family collection, Los Angeles)

From an educational perspective, Sis was one of the least developed cities and centers in Cilicia in the mid-19th century. The small number of students there was attributed to the inconsolable state of the schools and the dearth, sometimes even the absence, of financial assistance. There is little information on the educational system in Sis prior to the 19th century, [3] to an extent that it is neither possible to determine whether there was a school structure, nor to establish a general understanding of the education system there. [4]

It should be noted that in this era, the education system in the Ottoman Empire was weak in general. Despite state financial support, Turkish schools did not prove to be adequate for the advancement of the education system. According to Misak Keleshian, there were certain advances in the state education system in cities, but schooling was in pitiable condition in village communities and small town centers. [5]

Turkish schools

Enrollment in the Turkish schools in Sis was free of charge. Initially, these were religious school (medrese), where Islamic theology, the Koran, and religious education was imparted. They also served as boarding schools, accommodating students from villages. Students were exempted from the military service. [6]

Among these was the medrese of the Çamurdanzades near the small mosque, where Suleyman hoca taught for many years. There was another medrese in the old market. [7]

Alongside these institutions, large cities had ruşdiye schools (4 years of higher primary level) and idadiye schools (secondary level). These served under the supervision of the state educational system (maarif). Those who received education in these institutions typically ended up working in the state bureaucracy. Among the student body in these schools were a small number of Christians. Accounts do not mention the existence of ruşdiyes or idadiyes in Sis. [8]

In the late 1890s, thanks to the efforts of the new district governor of Sis Omar Pasha, educational reforms were set in motion in Sis. Thus, in 1897, the first primary school (ibtidai) was opened north of the government building. The school had a garden and a large playground. The school principal was Gök Fakı, a refugee from Rumeli who also taught in the Armenian monastery’s school. [9]

During Omar Pashas tenure, a school for girls—who were until then deprived of schooling opportunities—was also established in the old market. [10] Village medreses in this period were gradually replaced with basic schools, thus improving the education system. [11]. Unlike in earlier times, when a person had to go from one village to the other to find someone who could read a soldier’s letter home, the habit of reading newspapers started spreading among Turks in Sis in the 19th century. [12]

With the restoration of the Ottoman constitution in 1908, the state schools also became the milieu where Armenian and Turkish educators and officials cooperated and established ties. Thus, Armenian schoolteachers were invited to attend the state primary school end of year exams and graduation ceremonies. It is in this environment that in 1912, on the occasion of the Ottoman army’s re-conquest of Edirne, Pashabezian, a schoolteacher, directed a play in Turkish at the Armenian National School in Sis. [13]

After 1908, the maarif allocated funds to Turkish and Armenian schools, [14] fostering the development of education and helping schools overcome financial difficulties.

Armenian Apostolic Schools

Before discussing the reforms in Armenian schools in Sis, it is important to present a sketch of the period prior to these reforms which, according to Misak Keleshian, was in a sad state of affairs. [15]

The author of “Sis-Madian” was a student at the local Armenian primary school, whose principal was Matteos Efendi Achabahian (1827-1927). Education at the school was imparted in primitive ways. Among the teachers at this school in later years were Haroutyoun Lachinian (from Sis, 1872-?), Haroutyoun Kederian (from Sis, born in 1873, killed in 1915) and Apraham Khachigian (from Sis, 1875-1943). [16] In his memoirs, Keleshian writes that after studying at this school for 4-5 years, he still could not properly speak, read, and write in Armenian. [17] After a few years at the school, Keleshian went to Constantinople in the summer of 1897 to continue his education. This was an opportunity provided to those who were orphaned during the 1895 Hamidian massacres. [18] As a consequence of the anti-Armenian mass atrocities, the challenge of caring for thousands of Armenian orphans was pressing, and orphanages sprung up everywhere. The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople in turn brought orphans from the provinces and assumed the responsibility of providing them with education. Keleshian, who had lost his father, was sent with other orphans to the school at Armash Monastery, from where he would graduate in 1903 and return to Sis. [19]

Catholicos Mgrdich Kefsizian (1871-1894) (Source: Misak Keleshian, Sis-Madian [in Armenian], Beirut, 1949)

Here, we consider it important to also discuss individual initiatives, which were important factors in improving and reforming the education system. Among the teachers in Sis in the 1840s, the names of Father Haroutyoun Mkhitarian, a certain Chavdarian, Father Krikor Achabahian, and Cholak Seto. They all taught in primitive and/or home schools. In the same period, Catholicoi Giragos II and Mgrditch Kefsizian provided impetus to education. [20] The United Society of Constantinople, which had taken on the responsibility of Armenian education and school-building empire-wide, sent Mgrditch Khrimian (Khrimian Hayrig, who would later become Patriarch, then Catholicos) to assess the condition of the schools in Cilicia. Khrimian conveyed the sad state of the education system in Sis, accusing Catholicos Mikayel II (who was at the helm from 1833-1855) of indifference and lack of leadership. Having disagreements with the Catholicos, Khrimian soon returned to Constantinople. [21] After this failed attempt, the Patriarchate sent a teacher from Kayseri named Bedros (with a monthly salary of 500 kuruş), but it is unclear how long the latter taught in the city. [22]

Sis. Seated: Matteos Efendi Achabahian and his wife, Varvar. Standing: unknown (Source: Misak Keleshian, Sis-Madian [in Armenian], Beirut, 1949)

This underdeveloped state of education in Sis compelled many students to seek alternatives. When in 1888 the St. Paul American Missionary School was established in the seaport town of Darson (Tarsus), many students from Sis moved to this new institution, which eventually became Eastern Cilicia’s central school. [23]

Tarsus college (Saint Paul's Institute) students from Sis, 1919-1920. Seated (from left): Levon Chahinian, Krikor Vahgatsi, Manase Sevag, Yeghia Arshagouni, Bared Baredian, Kegham Geukdjian. Standing (from left): Aram Fermanian, Arsen Kyupelian, Arsen Geukdjian, Eflaton Faradjian, Garabed Belayan, Sarkis Kolian, Garabed Ekizian (Source: Misak Keleshian, Sis-Madian [in Armenian], Beirut, 1949)

In Sis schools, particularly in these early years, Turkish was the dominant language. There were efforts to replace Turkish with Armenian, but the teaching of the Armenian language was so weak that most would revert back to speaking Turkish. This situation started to change only at the beginning of the 20th century. [24]

It is interesting to note that prior to 1908, a Turkish anthem dedicated to Sultan Abdulhamid II was sung at every ceremony. [25] After the massacres in Cilicia, Cemal Bey (later, Pasha) was assigned governor of the province of Adana, and paid a visit to Sis a year later. Armenian and Turkish dignitaries, as well as the students and teachers of the city greeted Cemal near the city’s bridge. On this occasion, the students sang a Turkish song the lyrics of which are provided below:

Treasures of the Catholicosate of Sis (Source: Hermann Goltz, Photographien von Klaus E. Göltz, Der Gerettete Schatz der Armenier aus Kilikien, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000)

Sefa geldiniz beyimiz paşa,
Zevk ve sururla sen binler yaşa,
Biz haki paya yüzler süreriz,
Kudumunuzu tebrik ederiz,
Teşrifinizle siz bizi bugün,
İhya buyurup ettiniz memnun.

The English translation:

Welcome our bey pasha,
May you live long in joy and happiness,
We rub our face on the khaki [uniform],
We congratulate you on your visit,
By honoring us with your presence today,
You filled us with revival and gratitude. [26]

                          The National School (in the courtyard of the old monastery)

                          The first serious effort at building a school occurred in 1873, during the tenure of Catholicos Kefsizian. Opened by the initiative of the Catholicos’s brother Madteos Achabahian, the new school could accommodate 50-60 students. The students learned reading and calligraphy. Their textbooks were the Saghmos (psalm book) and the Acts of the Apostles. The school operated in the old monastery. Back in the day, Madteos and another student, Krikor Geukjian, were sent to Constantinople to receive their secondary education at the Shahnazarian School (an institution established through a bequest from Father Garabed Shahnazarian). For reasons unknown to us, however, the two return to Sis shortly thereafter and become teachers, although, according to Misak Keleshian, neither mastered the Armenian language. [27]

                          Sis, 1st January 1908: Armenian pupils of the National School. Teachers seated in the center (from left): Haroutyoun Lachinian (later, Father Avedik), Haroutyoun Ohanian (Source: Misak Keleshian, Sis-Madian [in Armenian], Beirut, 1949)

                          In 1875, a two-story school was constructed in the courtyard of the old monastery with the support of the Armenian dignitaries of Sis. The locals called it “medz tbrots” (grand school). This very institution would eventually be named the National School. The first floor of the building was allocated to the kindergarten, the primary, and the intermediate schools, while the second to the high school. The school property was a gift from Minas agha Yaghlian. The old monastery stood on a commanding hill southwest of the city. Until the early 20th century, there was a church there, partly in ruins, in the court of which catholicoi and bishops were buried. A fortified, new monastery was built during the tenure of Catholicos Giragos I (1797-1822) northhwest of the city. The Catholicosate moved to the new location, while the school remained in the courtyard of the old monastery. [28]

                          According to Missak Keleshian, the kindergarten section of the school was quite weak. Among the teachers there were Haroutyoun Yerebakanian (nicknamed Topal Varjabed, the teacher with a limp) and Hadje Ananigian. More than a hundred students gathered in the spacious yet unlit hall of the first floor, sitting on the ground. Hanging from the neck of each child was a wooden square plaque on which the Armenian alphabet was inscribed. After studying here for a year or two, the child moved to a higher grade called “the middle school.” This section was a better-lit space, but the winters were extremely cold. There was a heater in the classroom, near which the teacher sat, but it was not sufficient to warm up the entire hall. In the middle school, a textbook called entertsaran (a reader) was used for 3-4 years. Students were also taught grammar, religion, mathematics, and calligraphy. [29]

                          Sis/Kozan circa 1920. The arrow marks the National School building (Source: photograph by Father Gabriel Bretocq, Archives départementales de l’Eure, Fonds Gabriel Bretocq)

                          The teacher, who was also referred to as efendi, could sanction any type of punishment he deems necessary. When parents brought their children to school for the first time, they had the habit of telling the teacher, “Eti senin kemiği benim” (The flesh is yours, the bones are mine.) The sticks, made from pomegranate tree branches, with which teachers beat students for the smallest of mistakes were etched in Misak Keleshian’s childhood memories. Other punishments included kneeling down, standing on one foot, holding a rock with one or both hands above one’s head, and being deprived of meals. Teachers were also in the habit of slapping students, spitting on them, and, in rare instances, resorting to the falaka (bastinado). There was also the collective punishment of working in the school’s vegetable garden on holidays. [30]

                          Teachers received gifts from parents on a daily basis (food, wood for the heater). Gifts were particularly common on Christmas, when teachers received handkerchiefs, socks, fruits, and sweets. [31]

                          In 1881, Yesayi Polading from Göksun (Gogison), a graduate of the Shahnazarian School in Constantinople, assumed the position of teacher. In this period, the United Society of Constantinople, and particularly its controllers Krikor Sandaldjian and Vahan Kurkdjian, were closely monitoring the educational system in Sis. Inviting an illustrious teacher like Poladian stands as testament to their interest in the community’s educational system. [32] Hovhannes Nalbandian and subsequently Hovhannes Kheroyan, a drop-out from the Etchmiadzin Djemaran, were designated assistant teachers. From 1890-1895, Haroutyoun Kederian taught in the primary school. He was killed in 1915.

                          Under Poladian the school underwent significant reforms. It was divided into three section: A, B, and C. The third section was the highest, and it had 16 students the first year. Among them were Dikran Kasardjian (a drapery tradesman), Sarkis Pashabezian (a doctor), Garabed Patatian, Apraham Khachigian (a graduate of the Berberian School in Constantinople), Nazaret Achabahian, Panos Hovagimian, Haroutyoun Ohanian, Haroutyoun Kederian, Haroutyoun Lachinian (later, Father Avedik), Garabed Azirian, Krikor Nalbandian, Soghomon Kouyoumdjian, Manuel Achabahian, Seto Boyadjian, and Kevork Kalaydjian. [33] In other words, the future elite of Sis consisted by and large of graduates from this school. [34]

                          Armenian, Turkish, grammar, mathematics, French, calligraphy, and the Bible were taught at the school. Every year, around 15 students graduated, some of whom continued their education to become doctors or tradespeople. It is through this school and its graduates that the first serious effort was made to spread the Armenian language in a Turkish-speaking milieu. [35] To give new impetus to education, the aghas of Sis sent Soghomon Kouyoumdjian (1872-1911), Krikor Pashabezian (1871-?) and Apraham Khachigian (1875-1943) to Constantinople to receive education at the renowned Berberian School. Only Apraham Khachigian graduated from the school. [36]

                          Poladian was a musician, and started teaching church hymns and Armenian patriotic songs in school. [37]

                          Poladian’s tenure at the school would soon come to an unfortunate ending. A student, Bedros Djinbedrosian, was punished by the teacher, as a consequence of which he fell ill and died a few weeks later. The student’s uncle, Krikor Kouyoumdjian, was one of the aghas of Sis. He asked that the body be buried in the old monastery, where the school was. His request was declined and conflict broke out, particularly since Krikor agha had alienated other Armenian aghas because of his close ties with the Catholic Church. Krikor agha appealed to the state court. The court’s physician established that the child had died of a lung disease. Unhappy with this report, the uncle went to the appeals court. A doctor was summoned from Adana, an autopsy was performed, and the heart of the deceased was sent to the medical school of Constantinople for examination. Ultimately, it was established that the child had died as a consequence of beating. The United Society and the dignitaries of Sis tried to defend Poladian, but the latter was found guilty, arrested, and imprisoned for 2-3 years. [38]

                          As a consequence of Poladian’s removal from his position, the United Society discontinued its financial assistance to the Sis school. At that point, the responsibilities of administering the school were entrusted to Mateos Achabahian, Minas Toursarkisian, and Garabed Yezegelian. Upon the departure of Poladian, Hovhannes Kheroyan also left the National School. [39]

                          The Sis National School entered a new phase of reform when four students from Sis who had received education at the Armash monastery, including Misak Keleshian, returned to their native town in 1903, dedicated themselves to education, and put the elementary school in order. [40] In the early period of his tenure as teacher, Keleshian received 80 kurushes per month, which was quite an insignificant amount. Although the salaries improved slightly later on, it is evident that the Armash-educated teachers were unhappy with the overall condition of the National School. [41] The trustees often delayed the payment of salaries, and their internal conflicts had an adverse effect on the school. Under such conditions, one would expect that qualified local teachers would leave and pursue teaching careers elsewhere. [42]

                          In 1919, those among the Sis Armenians who survived the genocide returned to their home town and a new life began under the rule of the occupying French forces. The Armenians found the National School in ruins, demolished it, and built a larger two-story building on the same site. The hall on the first floor was allocated to the kindergarten, and the two rooms on the second floor to the elementary section. [43] This phase was short-lived, however, as in May 1920 the Armenians of Sis were forced to leave the city alongside the withdrawing French forces.

                          It is worth mentioning the names of some teachers at the National School here: Garabed Yezegelian (from Sis, 1844-1939), Panos Vagimian (from Sis), Haroutyoun Ohanian (from Sis, 1870-1922), Garabed Naharian (1880-killed in 1915), Bedros Atmadjian (1882-killed in 1915), Misak Kouyoumdjian (1898-?), Haroutyoun Balian (rom Sis, 1885-?), Ardashes Dikatanian (1893-1925), Krikor Chalkian (1890-1921), Mateos Yeretsian (from Istanbul, school principal for a year in 1912), Hagop Meyvalian (from Zeitun), Garabed Nadjarian (1880-killed in 1915), Siragan Orchanian (from Marash, later Fr. Mesrob), Haygazoun Hagopian (from Evereg), Bedros Cholakian (from Hadjin, taught singing, killed in 1915), Arshag Cholakian (from Hadjin, killed in 1915), Misak Takesian (from Hadjin), Haroutyoun Erzinlian (from Sis). [44]

                          The Holy Mother of God Boys’ School

                          There is little information on this educational institution, which could very possibly be the first school established in Sis. It is assumed that it served the community in the 1870s. Yesayi Poladian taught here for a while before moving to the National School. In 1885, Smpad Pyurad (1862-1915) taught here. Later, the boys’ section was closed and the students moved to the National School. A girls’ school opened in the same building. [45] 

                          Three sisters from Sis (two of them wearing their school uniform) photographed in Adana, ca 1919-1920. From left to right: Pakezar Vartanian (later Aboumarakian, born 1893, Sis), Arousyag Vartanian, Lia Vartanian (later Kazandjian) (Source: Houshamadyan collection, Berlin, Germany. Courtesy of Victoria Aboumarakian, Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon).

                          The Girls’ School of Holy Mother of God

                          In the 1880s, a girls’ school was established through the efforts of young men who went door to door raising money for the institution. Among them were Dikran Kasardjian, Sarkis Pashabezian, and Boghos Mikayelian (from Sis, 1846-killed in 1915). The school was nothing more than a hall in terrible shape near the church. Around 100 girls gathered at this hall where Ms. Teshkho Gulludjian (from Hadjin, killed in 1915) taught. [46] Later, Ms. Pipe Kasardjian taught at the school. [47] A few years later, this school moved to the hall of the St. Sarkis church, which until then had served as a boys’ primary school. [48]

                          The Boys’ Primary School at St. Sarkis Church

                          A neighborhood school opened in 1887 near the St. Sarkis Church with Mateos Achabahian and Krikor Geukdjian as teachers. Misak Keleshian points out that the teachers were both Turkish speakers and their Armenian was deeply flawed. At year-end ceremonies, the students performed special songs celebrating the occasion, in Turkish. [49]

                          After the first such ceremony, it was decided to bring together a group of trustees to take care of the schools. The trustees were Hagop Nalbandian (1830-1907), Garabed Pashabezian 1820-1920), Garabed Fermanian (1847-1907), Sahag Kasardjian, Khachig Khachigian, Stepan Azirian (1851-1931), and Krikor Geukdjian (1847-1927).

                          The newly-formed group conducted fundraising for the school, to which trustee Garabed Pashabezian himself contributed 10 Ottoman liras. Construction commenced immediately, and a two-story school building soon stood next to the St. Sarkis Church. [50]

                          Church clerk Hovhannes Pasli Keyishian was the schoolteacher. Later, Hampartsoum Boyadjian (Mourad) assumed the position of principal and stayed on for two years. [51] When the school in the old monastery, the largest Armenian school in Sis, started operating regularly, the students of the boys’ school moved there and this institution too closed its doors. [52]

                          The Girls’ School at St Sarkis Church

                          When the boys’ school closes its doors and its students went to the National School, a girls’ school opened in its place. The school had more than 100 students and three teachers. After 1908, a three-story building in the Hacı Uşağı neighborhood belonging to Ozehir Hoca was purchased the school moved there. This newly-opened school had 250 female students and 4-5 teachers.

                          The school reopened after the 1915 genocide, but barely a year and a half had passed when refugees from the nearby Kars-Pazar took refuge in Sis and many of them settled at the girls’ school, effectively putting an end to the lessons. [53]

                          Among the teachers of the girls’ school were Yepimeh Gullunian (from Sis), Annig Babinegian (from Sis, killed in 1915), Hayganoush Avsharian (from Sis), Aznive Kasardjian (from Sis), Armenouhi Pashabezian (from Sis), Yeprouhi Fermanian (from Ayntab), Dikranouhi Pashabezian (from Adana), Verjin Miridjian (from Adana), Yepros Tutundjian (from Adana), Kohar Arshagouni (from Sis), Mariam Gulesenian (from Sis), Zabel Fermanian (from Sis), and Arousiag Nadjarian née Geukdjian (1887-killed in 1915). [54]

                          Constitutional School

                          This school was established by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation after the reestablishment of the Ottoman constitution, when Armenian political parties aimed at bringing educational institutions under their influence. They did so by either trying to influence the already existing schools or by starting new ones.

                          Hovhannes Kheroyan (1855-1935) was assigned principal of the school. Haroutyoun Lachinian taught here. After operating for a year, the school was shut down due to lack of financial resources. [55]

                          The Protestant School

                          The first Protestant school in Sis was opened during the ministry of Rev. Sarkis Toranian. Shortly after moving to Sis, in the 1870s, this protestant clergyman who was educated in Aintab purchased the house of Mulla Omar in the Aslan Pasha neighborhood, made certain modifications to it, renovated it, and turned it into a meeting place for Protestants, the first of its kind in the city. In subsequent years, land was purchased nearby and plans were underway to build a two-story building, the first floor of which would serve as a protestant school, while the second would be the new gathering place. [56]

                          Yet soon the project was frozen because of complaints from the Sis Catholicosate, only to resume shortly thereafter with orders from governor Riza Pasha. Construction was completed in 1874. The school had a girls’ and boys’ classroom on the same floor. Later, when Haroutyoun Kumruian took over, the girls’ school was moved to the first floor of Mulla Omar’s house. The second floor served as the pastor’s house. [57]

                          A page from the "Gospel of Partsrpert" (Բարձրբերդի Աւետարան), 1248, Hromgla, Cilicia Museum, Antelias (Source: Hermann Goltz, Photographien von Klaus E. Göltz, Der Gerettete Schatz der Armenier aus Kilikien, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000)

                          Melankton Krikorian (a graduate of the College of Darson/Tarsus) taught at the boys’ school. Through his efforts, seven graduates from the class of 1910 were sent to Darson College to continue their education. They were Krikor Shahinian, Vartan Vartanian, Hagop Faradjian, Panos Faradjian, Giragos Faradjian (1896-?), Hampartsoum Avedikian, and Manase Karageozian (Manase Sevag, 1897-1967). [58]

                          When the Armenia population of Sis was deported during World War I, the Protestant school for boys was converted to a Turkish school. After the armistice, the Protestants reopened their schools, where Giragis Faradjian and A. Vartanian taught at the boys’ and girls’ school respectively. In 1920, the Armenians of Sis once again left their home town, and these institutions were shut down once and for all. [59]

                          The Catholic School

                          The Catholic Armenian community of Sis was established in 1866 upon the arrival of Fr. Kapriel Kechedjian and Fr. Marcelino (from the Franciscan Order). The first Catholic Church was built in the Aslan Pasha neighborhood, on the grounds of an old khan. Later, a small Catholic school was built next to the church. The school had 20-30 students. Until the 1890s, brothers Sebouh and Krikor Tellalian, and later Hagop Meyvelian (Bdghouni) taught there. [60]

                          The Seminarists’ School

                          The Seminarists’ school was founded during the tenure of Catholicos Giragos II (1855-1866). [61] But the seminary was closed shortly thereafter. A second effort was made in the time of Catholicos Mgrdich Kefsizian (1871-1894), but instead of Sis, the Cilician Catholicosate’s seminary was opened in Aintab in 1871. After operating for a few years, this too was shut down in 1875. A similar attempt is made in Marash, but that institution too closed down only five years later. The nomadic life of the seminary continued with the opening of one in Hadjin, headquartered at the city’s St. Hagop Church. But in 1882, a fire destroyed the neighborhood of the church, and once again, the seminary moved, this time returning to Sis and reopening with 35 students. The institution was shut down in 1890. By then, the following had graduated from the seminary: Bishop Nerses Tanielian, Bishp Khoren Timaksian, and Bishop Yeghishe Garoyan. Other students of the seminary included Vahan Kurkdjian and A. Nazar. Among those who taught at the seminary are. Fr. Hovannes Varjabedian (administrator), Nshan Terzian, Dikran Choukaszian, Mikael Gazmararian, Sarkis Samouelian, Toros Nahigian, Garabed Nalchajian, Karekin Yesayan, Djemil, Garabed Garakian, and Armen Lusinian. [62]

                          Sis/Kozan circa 1920. The Cilician Catholicosate can be seen in the background (Source: photograph by Father Gabriel Bretocq, Archives départementales de l’Eure, Fonds Gabriel Bretocq)

                          The seminary reopened in 1899, at a time when the seat of the Catholicos was vacant after the passing of Catholicos Kefsizian. The initiative was that of Bishop Giragos Bekmezian (1822-1904 [63]. The seminary had 18-20 students from Adana, Dörtyol, Gürün, Yozgat, Sis, Ayntab, and Marash. The principle was Hrant Vartabed (priest) for the first year, followed by Yesayi Poladian in 1900, and then Mesrob Vartabed Amadouni. Assistant teachers included Mardiros Neredeyan and Haroutyoun Kederian. The monastery also housed an orphanage in the same period, where 25-50 orphans were cared for. This orphanage was established in 1899 primarily through a donation by Krikor Chanchian (an Armenian who lived in Moscow). It was administered by Fr. Hrant Topouzian. [64] Upon being elected Catholicos in 1902, Sahag Khabayan was forced to temporarily shut down the institution and send the students home, since he considered the condition of the school unacceptable and the care the students received inadequate. The entire institution was in a pathetic state. The Catholicos immediately embarked on an effort to secure the necessary funds and a renovated and improved seminary opened in in 1904. [65]

                          In this new period, Fr. Karekin Khachadourian (1880, Trabzon-1961 Istanbul), who later became the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, administered the seminary from 1906-1909. Among the teachers were Fr. Hrant Garoyan and Haroutyoun Kederian. [66]

                          1. Sis, the catholicosate (Source: Bibliothèque Orientale - USJ, Beirut)
                          2. Sis, general view. Photograph taken from a window of the catholicosate building (Source: Bibliothèque Orientale - USJ, Beirut)

                          • [1] Misak Keleshian, Sis-Madian, Hay Djemaran Printing House, Beirut, 1949, 473 pages.
                          • [2] Sis was renowned for its specialty schools of the highest level, one of which was the university founded by Nerses Lampronatsi.
                          • [3] Keleshian, Sis-Madian, p. 473.
                          • [4] Ibid.
                          • [5] Ibid., p. 469.
                          • [6] Ibid., p. 470.
                          • [7] Ibid., pp. 470, 493.
                          • [8] Ibid., p. 470.
                          • [9] Ibid., pp. 493-494.
                          • [10] Ibid., p. 494.
                          • [11] Ibid., p. 494.
                          • [12] Ibid.
                          • [13] Ibid.
                          • [14] Ibid., p. 494.
                          • [15] Ibid., p. 484.
                          • [16] Ibid., pp. 484, 307.
                          • [17] Misak Keleshian, Inknagensakroutyoun [Autobiography], Beirut, 1951, p. 27.
                          • [18] Ibid., p. 26.
                          • [19] Ibid.
                          • [20] Keleshian, Sis-Madian, p. 473.
                          • [21] Ibid., pp. 473-474.
                          • [22] Ibid.
                          • [23] Ibid., p. 484.
                          • [24] Ibid.
                          • [25] Ibid., pp. 471-472.
                          • [26] Ibid., p. 472.
                          • [27] Ibid., p. 474.
                          • [28] Ibid. pp. 476, 479. Giligian gsgidzner, 1903-1915 [Cilician Anguishes, 1903-1915], Hraztan Printing House, Beirut, p. 19.
                          • [29] Keleshian, Sis-Madian, pp. 476, 479, 490.
                          • [30] Ibid., p. 480.
                          • [31] Ibid.
                          • [32] Ibid., pp. 475-476.
                          • [33] Ibid., p. 476.
                          • [34] Ibid., pp. 476, 479.
                          • [35] Ibid., p. 476.
                          • [36] Ibid., pp. 478-479.
                          • [37] Ibid., p. 476.
                          • [38] Ibid., p. 476.
                          • [39] Ibid., pp. 476-477.
                          • [40] Ibid., p. 480.
                          • [41] Keleshian, Inknagensakroutyoun, pp. 80-85; Keleshian, Sis-Madian, p. 480.
                          • [42] Keleshian, Inknagensakroutyoun, pp. 80-85.
                          • [43] Keleshian, Sis-Madian, p. 482.
                          • [44] Ibid., pp. 489-493.
                          • [45] Ibid., pp. 476, 482.
                          • [46] Ibid., pp. 482, 492.
                          • [47] Ibid., pp. 476, 482, 492.
                          • [48] Ibid., p. 482.
                          • [49] Ibid., p. 474.
                          • [50] Ibid., pp. 474-475.
                          • [51] Ibid., pp. 475, 487.
                          • [52] Ibid., p. 482.
                          • [53] Ibid., pp. 482-483.
                          • [54] Ibid., pp. 492-493.
                          • [55] Ibid., pp. 482, 490.
                          • [56] Ibid., p. 355.
                          • [57] Ibid., pp. 355-356.
                          • [58] Ibid., p. 357.
                          • [59] Ibid., p. 358.
                          • [60] Ibid., pp. 350-352.
                          • [61] Ibid., p. 240.
                          • [62] Ibid., p. 253.
                          • [63] Ibid., p. 258.
                          • [64] Giligian gsgidzner, pp. 16, 17; Keleshian, Sis-Madian, pp. 258, 275.
                          • [65] Giligian gsgidzner, pp. 18, 63.
                          • [66] Keleshian, Sis-Madian, pp. 234, 266; Giligian gsgidzner, p. 75.