His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, was born in 1951 in the village of Voskehat, near Etchmiadzin, Armenia; to Grigor and Khatun Nersissyan. He was given the baptismal name of Ktrij.
He received his elementary education in his native village, and in 1965, he entered the Gevorkyan Theological Seminary in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, where he graduated with distinction. Upon graduation he taught New Testament Studies and was an Assistant at the Seminary. He was ordained to the Diaconate on 25 December 1970, the Feast Day of St. Stephen the proto-martyr. In 1972, he was ordained a celibate priest in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin; by Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, and given the priestly name of Karekin.