Pope Francis will arrive in Armenia on June 24. Ahead of the visit the Pope asked the faithful to pray for his upcoming trip to Armenia. “I ask you to pray for me, who in a few days will go as a pilgrim to an eastern land, Armenia, the first among the Nations to receive the Gospel of Jesus,” he said at an audience for the Reunion of Aid Agencies For the Eastern Churches.
“The Pontiff’s visit is a remarkable event for any country and any country he enters tries to best comprehend the meaning of the Pope’s messages,” theologian Vardan Khachatryan says. According to him, Armenia has always been seen in the Christian world as a key country, and it’s not accidental that the pope describes the visit as “pilgrimage to the first among the Nations to receive the Gospel of Jesus.” He considers that the visit at a time of turmoil in the region is not a coincidence, either.
The Pope will pray in a country, which shared the destiny of Jesus Crist by dying and rising again after the genocide. “This also contains an important message,” Vardan Khachatryan says. “Today Europe faces the challenge of restoring the Christian value system, a value system, which the Western civilizations are actually build upon.
Fr. Shahe Ananyan, Director of the Inter-Church Relations Department of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, says the Prayer of Peace by the Pope and His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and the Catholicos of All Armenians can serve a brilliant message of establishment of peace and religious tolerance in the region.
“I think this visit is first and foremost a sort of pilgrimage: the Pope’s gesture is one of affection and admiration for this ancient Church with its century-old Christian tradition; it is an act of devotion towards this country, the first to adopt Christianity in 301 when St. Gregory the Illuminator led the entire nation to conversion and baptism,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches said in an interview with La Stampa.
“The Pope will bring his gratitude and esteem for a people who were molded by the Christian spirit and managed to protect the precious treasure of faith and their own identity for centuries. This is the spiritual power upon which Armenia can build a future of peace and hope,” the Cardinal said.