After President Serzh Sargsyan and the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II had greeted Pope Francis in an official welcoming ceremony, the latter headed towards Etchmiadzin, twelve kilometers away, where he is going to visit the Cathedral of Armenian Apostolic Church.
On the plane that took him to Yerevan, the Pontiff answered reporters’ question on the outcome of the peace process in Colombia, saying: “I am happy with this news I received yesterday. More than fifty years of war, guerrilla warfare, and a lot of spilled blood. It is good news. “I hope – he added – that the countries that have been working for peace enforce this result and never resume war, neither inside nor outside”. “Best wishes to Colombia that it making this step at present.”
The Pope was welcomed at the airport in Yerevan by the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and by the Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II. Two children wearing traditional dresses offered Francis bread and salt as asymbol of hospitality. The welcoming ceremony was attended by the Armenian Catholic Patriarch, Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, some Armenian Apostolic and Catholic bishops, some State authorities and a group of faithful with a children’s choir. As customary, they have sung the anthems of the Vatican and Armenia, followed by military honors and by the presentation of the delegations present at the airport. The core of this journey are the consolidation of ecumenical relations with the Armenian Apostolic Church, the encouragement of small and minority local Catholic Church, as well as the declaration of closeness to the Armenian “people of martyrs”, victim of persecution and massacres in the course of the history.
Pope Francis has arrived at 8:57 to the Fiumicino airport. Once out of his car, a few meters from Alitalia’s A321, Piazza Ducale Vigevano, President of Alitalia, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo welcomed him, along with some civil and military authorities. The Pope spent some time cordially talking with them. Then, the Pope with the customary black bag in his left hand, went up the stairs smiling, and before entering the plane, greeted the present waving his hand.
In the afternoon, the Pope will visit the Apostolic Cathedral in Etchmiadzin for a prayer. During the three-day visit, the Pope will be hosted in the Apostolic Palace, seat of the Supreme Patriarch (Catholicos) of All Armenians, Karekin II. At 6.00 p.m., a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic Serzh Sargsyan in the Presidential Palace in Yerevan, where he will meet civil authorities and the diplomatic corps. Finally, at 7.30 p.m is expected the personal meeting and conversation with the Catholicos Karekin II in the Apostolic Palace of Etchmiadzin.