In 1902, a correspondent of the Armenian newspaper of Constantinople “Manzou-Meiosis Effniar” wrote: “When will we have our Holy Church in Paris?” This issue did not remain unanswered. A wealthy Armenian (oil) businessman from Baku, named Alexander Mantachiants, discovered that the small Armenian community in Paris did not have its own church. Finding these circumstances unacceptable Mantachiants along with the poet Siamanto, singer Arménag Shah-Mouradian and musicologist Komitas, decided they could not remain deaf to this call. Religious and deeply patriotic, Mantachiants was touched by the request of the priest of Paris, he vowed to fund the construction of an Armenian Apostolic Church in Paris.
He acquired property near the Champs Elysees for the astronomical price of 450.000 F and hired architects to design a church. The young French architect Albert Désiré Guilbert was chosen for the task. The first stone was laid on October 5th 1902 and completed in 1904. The entire construction cost 1,540,000 F. The pediment of the church, 25 m long and 13 m wide, is symbolically engraved with the holy seventh letter of the Armenian alphabet ” է” (“to be “, a reference to God). The church was named after St. John the Baptist.
Today, the Armenian community in Paris is one of the largest in the world and the church is its centerpiece.
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