The Patriarch Sahak II departed for Rome on Tuesday evening, October 5, to attend the conferences and prayer organized by the Sant’Egidio Community. In order to attend the same meeting and chair the delegation of the Armenian Church, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. had also moved to Rome.
On Tuesday evening, before His Beatitude the Patriarch’s arrival in Rome, Catholicos Karekin II. arrived at Leonardo da Vinci Airport and was welcomed by Archbishop Khajag Barsamyan, Deputy of the Western European Catholicosate and Permanent Representative of the Armenian Church to the Vatican, Archpriest Dirayr Hagopian, Religious Officer of the Italian Armenians, and Garen Nazarian, Ambassador of Armenia to the Vatican. Afterwards, His Beatitude the Patriarch’s plane arrived in Rome. The editor-in-chief of Jamanak Newspaper Ara Koçunyan, who was in Rome to follow the developments in the conferences, accompanied the convoy that welcomed His Holiness the Catholicos and His Beatitude the Patriarch.
During Patriarch Sahak II’s visit to Rome, President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkisyan, who paid an official visit to Italy, was also in Rome. Senior clergy, Armenian Ambassador to Rome Dzovinar Hampartsumyan, Garen Nazarian and business people attended the open-air dinner held in the garden of “Hotel de russie” by a group of business people.
During the reception, Patriarch Sahak II took the floor and expressed his feelings and thoughts. Patriarch Sahak II expressed his satisfaction for paying his first visit in the capacity of Patriarch in one of the important centers of Christianity. In addition, he said that it is even more meaningful that Catholicos Karekin II, who aims to represent the Armenian Church at the highest level, was in the Vatican during this visit. On this occasion, Patriarch Sahak II praised the vision of Catholicos Karekin II and said that Catholicos Karekin II, who had developed projects for the survival of the Armenian mother church S. Echmiadzin, was able to implement their projects with absolute success.
Catholicos Karekin II also addressed those present at the dinner and stated that the purpose of his visit to the Vatican was to renew the hopes of the Armenian people for the future. It was also gratifying that Patriarch Sahak II was in the Vatican during this visit. Catholicos Karekin II later stated that “Faith will shine again”, stating that no difficulty can stand in the face of desire and determination. The Catholicos later said: “We are a people who know how to overcome death, walk on the cross, and rejoice in the resurrection. We will awaken from the sleep of pain with faith and together we will build the bright days to come.”
At the end of his speech, while he was sharing the blessing of the mother church Surp Echmiadzin, noting that Surp Etchmiadzin continues to be the source of our faith and that we should eagerly and hopefully follow the light reflected from him. On this occasion, he thanked the organizers of the night and offered his priestly blessings.
They Met with Pope Francis
Karekin II. and the Patriarch Sahak II met with Pope Francis on Wednesday, October 6 at 08:00, in the office in the “Paul VI” hall.
In this meeting before the international conference dedicated to peace, Western Europe Deputy Catholicosate and Permanent Representative of the Armenian Church to the Vatican Archbishop Khajag Barsamyan, Mother Church Surp Echmiadzin Religious Director, Bishop Musheğ Babayan, Romanian Armenian Spiritual Leader Bishop Datev Hagopian, The Director of the mother church S. Eçmiadzin Preaching Center, High Priest Karekin Hampartsumyan, Italian Armenians Religious Officer, High Priest Dirayr Hagopian, Priest Ananya Dzaduryan and Father Shirvan Mürzyan were also present.
This meeting was an occasion for the spiritual leaders of the Armenian Church and the Catholic Church to come together fraternally, to be refreshed spiritually and to have conversations on inter-church issues. Catholicos Karekin II thanked Pope Francis, remembering the Pope’s interest in Armenia during the post-war period last year. At the end of the meeting, souvenir gifts were presented to each other and a group photo was taken afterwards.
Pope Francis, after meeting with the Armenian Church delegation, the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Sahak II. also spoke privately. This meeting also had a special meaning, because Patriarch Sahak II, in his capacity as Patriarch, officially met with the Pope in the Vatican for the first time.
Patriarch Sahak II thanked him for the respect and brotherly love shown to him at the meeting. The Patriarch wished that the two-day conference and prayer would be fruitful and a means of peace. Pope Francis, on the other hand, expressed his pleasure to host the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul in the Vatican and asked his spiritual brother to pray for him in the Lord Jesus Christ. On this occasion, Pope Francis offered his best wishes to Patriarch Sahak II.
On the other hand, to encourage the Christian unity, Catholicos Karekin II, Patriarch Sahak II, and Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, came together with the President of the Pontifical Council Cardinal Kurt Koch, the responsible of the Eastern Churches Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.