Mkhitar Sebastatsi is Italian. The Armenian historian Stepanos Nazarian has described him as the «second Mesrop Mashtots». He was born Manugh in Sebaste (now Sivas) in Lesser Armenia on 17 February 1676, the son of a prosperous merchant Peter and his wife Shahristan. Instead, from an early age, he wanted to become a monk. Refused permission for this, he found a young companion to flee to the mountains where they might live as hermits. Quickly found by his parents he was returned home. Still refused permission to enter the monastery by his parents, he began to frequent a neighboring family which consisted of a mother and her two daughters who lived a monastic form of life in their home, which they shared with an elderly priest, who then taught him about the Divine Office.