On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Patriarch Yeghishe Tourian, which was in the year 1879, plans were made to establish a library. Patriarch Yeghishe Tourian was dedicated to studying, teaching and spreading his knowledge. It was no wonder therefore that, when he was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem, he revitalized education for the Theological Seminary, as well as the Holy Translators School.
The plans for a library were financially supported by the benefactors Calouste Gulbenkian, the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon, the Saint Sarkis Trust Fund of London, as well as Armenian individuals and organizations from all-over the world. The major part of funding however was provided by Mr. Gulbenkian.
Mr. Calouste Gulbenkian, Patriarch Yeghishe Tourian as well as his successor Patriarch Torkom Koushagian were all bibliophiles, and understood the importance of education and books.
Unfortunately Patriarch Yeghishe Tourian himself did not see the opening of the library, as he passed away in the year 1930.
The Gulbenkian Library was officially opened in 1932, on the Feast day of the Holy Translators, which was also the feast on which Patriarch Yeghishe of blessed memory, received his consecration as bishop- this all under the auspices of the new Patriarch, His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom I Koushagian. The Library’s collection at the time of opening included the late Patriarch Tourian’s personal collection of more than 10,000 books; annually another 1,000 books were to be added yearly to the collection. Books that were previously in the monastic reading hall, as well as some monks’ personal collections were also integrated in the Gulbenkian Library, as well as the large collection of the Patriarch Archbishop Torkom.
The library started at the day of opening with a bit over 25,000 books, more than half of them in the Armenian language.
The Library has a perpetual growing collection of books, periodicals and newspapers, in Armenian as well as in other languages, including the full set of the Patriarchate’s official periodical “Sion”.
The library is considered one of the most extensive Armenian Libraries in the Middle East.
Priests, seminarians, students of the Sts. Tarkmachatz School, laity as well as international scholars find their way to the Gulbenkian Library.
The Gulbenkian Library is open from Monday to Friday from 14.00-18.00 h.
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