Confessional struggle in the Armenian community took important proportions at the beginning of the eighteenth century in the Ottoman Empire. One of its protagonists, and also victims, was Avedik Evdokiatsi, Patriarch of Constantinople.
He was born on April 1, 1657, in Evdokia (Tokat). He was a disciple of priests Sarkis, his grandfather, and Bedros, his baptism priest, and then of Bishop Hagop Belenktsi. In 1675 he was ordained deacon in Payas (Cilicia), and then he moved to the monastery of St. Hagop of Gabos, in Upper Armenia (Partzr Hayk), where he was consecrated monk (apegha) and archimandrite (vartabed), and finally became abbot. Through his efforts, the monastery of St. Hagop and the churches of St. Nshan in Diranashen and the Holy Virgin in Erzinga were renovated. He was consecrated bishop in Holy Echmiadzin in 1691 and designated prelate of Erzerum in the same year.
On February 24, 1702, Avedik Evdokiatsi was elected Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople by the intervention of the Ottoman court, and became simultaneously Patriarch of Jerusalem on July 13.
However, in 1703 he was exiled to Syria for his anti-Catholic stance and persecutions. He was freed in 1704 and restored in his position as Patriarch of Constantinople. In November, after the death of Patriarch Minas Amdetsi of Jerusalem, the patriarchal sees of Constantinople and Jerusalem were reunited again.
During Avedik Evdokiatsi’s short tenure as Patriarch, there was a fierce struggle between the Apostolic and Catholic Armenian communities, where outside forces also intervened. A Jesuit priest Monier called him “the biggest persecutor” that the Catholics ever had in the Middle East, while the French ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Charles de Ferriol, labeled him as “sworn enemy of the Roman Church” and “adamant and implacable persecutor of Catholicism.” The Patriarch took severe measures against Catholic Armenians and became the victim of agitators and the machinations of his rivals.
In 1706 Avedik Evdokiatsi was again deprived of his throne and exiled to the island of Tenedos in the Aegean Sea. After his return, Ambassador de Ferriol, along with the cooperation of a few like-minded Catholic Armenians, Jesuit priests, and Frenchmen, kidnapped the Patriarch and had him transported to the prison of Marseilles, the monastery of Mont St. Michel in northern France, and finally the Bastille, in Paris, and confiscated his books and writings. Avedik Evdokiatsi could only come out of prison after he was forced to convert to Catholicism and make a profession of faith before Cardinal Noailles, Archbishop of Paris, on September 22, 1710. He remained under close surveillance until his death on July 11, 1711, in Paris. There were some theories that identified him with the famous, and never identified, Man of the Iron Mask.
Avedik Evdokiatsi wrote poems and also copied six Armenian manuscripts, five during his time at the Bastille and the last one in 1711, after his liberation, in Paris. In 1709, during his time in prison, he wrote his autobiography, which was published in 1874.