On the occasion of the Pope's visit to Armenia, the Ambassador to Spain writes for PALABRA an analysis of the significance of Francis' trip to his country.
– Avet Adonts
The Pope's visit to any country, as in this case to Armenia, is a great honor and a very important event. Despite the fact that the Armenian Apostolic Church is an independent Church, historically very warm relations have been established with the Catholic Church, and in particular with the Holy See, which continue to be preserved and developed.
Even today, these relations continue to develop actively. As fundamental pieces that exemplify mutual respect, it is worth mentioning the placement in 2005 of the statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator (or the Armenian), Apostle of Armenia and founder of the Armenian Church, in one of the external niches of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, being the first time that the statue of a saint of Eastern rite was placed among the founding saints that surround the exterior of St. Peter's Basilica; and the official recognition of the Armenian cleric and philosopher St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis at the Mass officiated for the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
Literally two or three days ago the motto of Pope Francis' visit to Armenia was communicated, which reads. Visit to the first Christian country. In this way, Pope Francis picks up the baton from Pope John Paul II, who visited Armenia in 2001 as part of the events commemorating the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity in Armenia. As His Holiness Pope Francis indicated in his Message to Armeniansat the Mass celebrated on April 12, 2015, Armenia was "the first among the nations that throughout the centuries embraced the Gospel of Christ"..
In 301 Armenia, adopting Christianity as the official state religion, became the first Christian country in the world. For centuries, being surrounded by non-Christian countries and empires, the Armenian people underwent many hardships, multiple wars, but remained steadfast in their decision. They never questioned their Christian faith. The Pope's visit to Armenia is a tribute to the Armenian people and their millennial history, as well as a call for peace for the region and the world.
This visit is also prioritized by the Vatican. That is evident from the program of the visit. The Pope will spend three days in Armenia: from June 24 to 26. In addition to the capital Yerevan and the Holy See of Armenia, Echmiatsin, he will also visit Gyumri, the second largest city of the Republic, as well as pilgrimage sites of great religious significance on the territory of Armenia. His Holiness the Pope will be received by the highest political and religious authorities of Armenia.
Avet Adonts is Ambassador Extraordinary and Lenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the Kingdom of Spain.