Khrimian Hairig (1820-1907 AD)
A towering figure in the reawakening of the Armenian spirit and Armenian nationalism, Mgrditch Khrimian Hairig was born in Van and was ordained vartabed at Aghtamar and bishop at Etchmiadzin. He served as Patriarch of Constantinople from 1869-1873 and as Catholicos from 1892-1907. His major endeavors took place in the political rather than the theological arena. A writer, newspaper editor, and political activist, he revered the homeland and believed that Armenians must live on their own soil to grow and create. In 1878, Khrimian led an Armenian delegation to the Congress of Berlin, where he attempted to persuade the European leaders to afford Armenia local autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. His efforts unsuccessful, he returned to Constantinople and gave the famous sermon in which he stated that everybody came to the Congress of Berlin with metal spoons to partake of the cauldron of "herisa" but the Armenians had only paper spoons. When Tsar Nickolas II decreed in 1903 that all Armenian church properties were to come under Russian control, Catholicos Khrimian Hairig ordered the Armenian clergy to ignore the edict. This decree was later rescinded, and the confiscated properties were returned. For his extraordinary efforts on behalf of the common people, he was given the affectionate title of Hairig.