On the eve of his apostolic visit to Armenia, from 24 to 26 June, the Holy Father greeted Armenian “brothers” in a video message, broadcast by the Vatican Television Center. “I will be a pilgrim in the first Christian country, to drink from the springs of your faith, rocky like your famous crosses carved in stone. I come to the mystical heights of Armenia like your brother, pushed by desire to see your faces, pray with you, and share the gift of friendship”, Pope Bergoglio said.
“Your history and the events of your beloved people arouse my admiration and sorrow,” the Pontiff went on to say. “Admiration, because you have found the strength to always stand up again in the Cross of Jesus, even from sufferings that are among the most terrible in human history. Pain, for the tragedy your fathers experienced in their own flesh.”
“Even in the face of evil’s repeated assaults, let us not give up,” Pope Francis said. “Let us be like Noah, who never got tired of looking at the sky and free the dove several times, until it came back with a tender olive tree leaf: it was a sign that life could recommence and hope should rise again”.
The people that lived in ancient Anatolia once and mostly in Armenia at present, was the first one to adopt Christianity as its official religion, with a state law of 301 a. D. During the Turkish invasion and that of the Ottoman Empire, Armenians suffered a genocide, endless persecutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. According to estimations, over one million of the, died in concentration camps alone. In 1922, Armenia became part of the Soviet Union. Since 1991, it is an independent Republic.