“May the Holy Spirit make believers become one heart and one soul: may he come to re-found us in unity”. Pope Francis has pronounced these words during the Divine Liturgy celebrated in Etchmiadzin by the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the supreme patriarch and Catholicos Karekin II. “May the Armenian Church walk in peace and may there be full communion between us. May everyone experience strong longing for unity, unity that must not be ‘neither subjugation or absorption of the other, but acceptance of all the gifts God has given us, to show the great mystery of salvation accomplished by Christ the Lord through the Holy Spirit’ to the whole world,” he added, repeating his own words pronounced on Nov. 30, 2014 in Istanbul during the divine liturgy of the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew. “Let us listen to the younger generations who crave a future free from the divisions of the past,” he added, urging: “let us follow God’s call for full communion and accelerate the pace we have lost on this path.”
Then the Pope went to the monastery of Khor Virap, one of the holiest places of the Armenian Church, the last leg of his trip to Armenia, not far from the Turkish border. Francis and Catholicos Karekin II, who has accompanied him throughout the entire visit to the country, have been welcomed by the superior. Once they reached the “Pozzo di San Gregorio room”, they lit a candle in honor of St. Gregory the Illuminator, who had spent 13 years in prison before the conversion of King Trdat III to Christianity. In the chapel, the Catholicos and the Pope prayed: everyone recited the Lord’s Prayer in their own language. After the blessing given by the Pope, Francis and Karekin have come out on the panoramic terrace where they have released two doves of peace towards the biblical Mount Ararat, in Turkish territory. Finally, the Pope has left a silver lamp as a gift to the monastery. The lamp has an Armenian cross on it and recalls the very place where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned.