[MEKHITARISTS OF VIENNA / CHRISTIANITY] 1912 College des P. P. Mechitharistes [sic] de Vienne. [i.e. 1912 College of P. P. Mekhitarists in Vienna]

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D. JOSEPH (Photographed by), Constantinople (Istanbul), 1912.

Original huge albumen print mounted on cardboard. 33x42 cm. The captions are in French. 

An early splendid and rare huge-sized group photo of the students and teachers of the Mekhitarist College of Vienna, probably in the garden of the chapel established in 1912 in the city. At the beginning 19th century the Austrian Armenians enjoyed officially recognized status as autonomous religious communities. The Armenian community in Vienna grew constantly, so that already in 1896 the first efforts were made to found an Armenian-Apostolic community. In 1912 a small chapel was established in Vienna. The First World War and its aftermath transformed the Austrian Armenian community: the area of the Bukowina Armenians was lost during the war, but a wave of immigrants came to Austria as a result of the Armenian Deportation in 1915.

The younger students sitting in the front two rows, the teachers and priests in the middle row, and the older students in the upper row wearing traditional Armenian and occasionally Ottoman clothes are seen in this rare photograph.

The Mekhitarist Monastery of Vienna (Wiener Mechitaristenkloster; Viennayi Mkhit'arean vank) is one of the two monasteries of the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarist (Mechitharist) Congregation, located in Vienna, Austria. The main center of the order is located in San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Venice, from which the Vienna branch broke off in 1773.

The Mekhitarist Congregation of Vienna[a] originated in 1773 when a group of monks left the island of San Lazzaro (Saint Lazarus), in Venice, and settled in Trieste, which was then under Austrian (Habsburg) rule. Empress Maria Theresa welcomed them into her domains and on May 30, 1775, granted them permission to establish a monastery and church and operate a printing house. After Napoleon's invasion and occupation of Trieste, the Mekhitarists moved to the imperial capital of Vienna in 1805 since they were Habsburg subjects. In 1811 they settled in Am Platzl, an abandoned Capuchin convent just outside the city walls, in the St. Ulrich area. The congregation acquired the property in 1814.

In 1925 Ignaz Seipel, Chancellor of Austria, described the Mekhitarists as "the first pioneers of Austrian culture in the Orient."

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia as of 1912, there were 125 Catholics of the Armenian Rite residing in Vienna out of the total population of 2,004,493. As of 1901, the monastery had 10 Mekhitarist priests, as compared with the 16 priests residing in San Lazzaro, Venice.

D. Joseph opened his first studio in approximately 1903 and established his studio in the Pera region of Istanbul of his time. He may be of Jewish or Austrian origin. There is no detailed information about his biography and origin in the literature.