His Holiness KAREKIN II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,was born in the village of Voskehat, near Etchmiadzin, in 1951, and was given the baptismal name Ktrij.
He received his elementary education in his native village, subsequent to which, in 1965, he was admitted to the Gevorkian Theological Seminary in Holy Etchmiadzin, where he graduated with distinction. Upon graduation, he taught New Testament Studies and was an Assistant at the Seminary. He was ordained a celibate priest in 1972 and was given the name Karekin.
Following his ordination to the Holy Priesthood, His Holiness Catholicos Vazken I, of blessed memory, arranged for the young priest to pursue higher religious education at the local faculty of Divinity in Vienna, Austria. In 1975, the future Catholicos served at the Church in Germany as a pastor, while continuing his theological studies at the University of Bonn. After four years in Germany, he returned to the Mother See, and was sent by Catholicos Vazken to Zagorsk, Russia, to pursue his studies at the Doctoral Faculty of St. Serguey Monastery’s Academy of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Following his studies in Russia, Father Karekin was appointed to be the assistant to the Vicar General of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese in 1980. In 1982, he earned the rank of “Vardapet” (Archimandrite), and in April 1983, he became the Vicar General of the same Diocese. In October of the same year, he was ordained a Bishop and in 1992, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.
In 1989, Bishop Karekin Nersissian established the Vaskenian Seminary at Lake Sevan to educate young men in religious studies, completing a five-year course prior to the entrance to the Theological Academy at Holy Etchmiadzin, where they would study for one additional year. Through his efforts, the former Communist Pioneer Palaces were converted into church-sponsored youth centers for religious and artistic education of young men and women.
In 1990, Bishop Karekin created the Christian Education Center, which organized Christian Education courses in 56 public and Sunday schools throughout the Diocese.
In 1995, Archbishop Karekin Nersissian was a prime candidate in the Catholicossal Elections, but he withdrew his candidacy in favor of Catholicos Karekin I, of blessed memory. In 1998, the late Catholicos appointed Archbishop Karekin as the Catholicossal Vicar General.
On October 27, 1999, as a result of the closed secret ballot election held in the Cathedral of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Archbishop Karekin Nersissian was elected the 132nd Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and was consecrated on November 4, 1999.