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Rev. Fr. Haruthiun Shmavonian

An excerpt from the book 'The Wondering Armenians'
By Fr. Aramais Mirzaian & Dr. Charles A. Price

orn in Iran in 1750, Haruthiun Shmavonian received his early education mainly from learned clergymen, whose influence helped him to accept holy orders later on in his life. He served in the Armenian churches in Iran for a few years and attained to considerable success there at the outset of his ministry.

While in Shiraz, he was unfortunately plunged into deep sorrow by the loss of his two sons within one week, which drove him into retirement for several years. During this period he engaged himself in the further study of the Armenian and Persian languages, which he mastered successfully.

Through constant persuasion his intimate friends and well-wishers succeeded in bringing him back to work in his church. He came to India in 1784 and served as the spiritual head of Armenians in Madras for forty years.

His great love for literature was always evident. In addition to his official duties in the church he devoted long hours to the study and publication of books and papers. In 1789 he started a printing press where he printed several books in Armenian, his first publication being "The Martyrology of Virgin Marinch". On the 28th October 1794, he published the first ever Armenian journal under the title of "Azdarar" ("Intelligencer"), a monthly magazine containing subjects of social, commercial and literary interest.

His zeal and perseverance helped him to overcome many difficulties. He worked unceasingly for the enlightenment of his compatriots and earned the high esteem of his nationals not only in India but in all parts of the world as well. Among his diverse undertakings, he succeeded in manufacturing the paper on which “Azdarar” was printed, in the contemporary primitive method of hand-made paper production from cotton-pulp. Unfortunately, the life of this journal was of but short duration and ended in February, l796, eighteen months after its start. During his lengthy service in Madras he was gratified to evidence the well-being of his compatriots, many of whom took an active part in the commercial life of that famous city.

. This father of Armenian journalism passed away in Madras on the 9th February 1824, at the age of 74, and was laid to rest in the Armenian churchyard. Befitting tributes were paid to his revered memory during his funeral and again on the 9th February 1924, when the centenary of his death was commemorated in many of the Armenian churches throughout the world.

Please click HERE to read a short article about the Armenians and the Armenian Church in Madras, India.

Courtesy of Michael Stephen 
Caretaker - Armenian Church, Madras, India 
Updated 10 January, 2002 ..
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