Armenian Catholicos visits Rome

            From 6-9 May H.H. Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch & Catholicos of All Armenians, paid an official visit to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. The visit to Italy also included a one-day visit to the Armenian community of Milan and a two-day visit to the Mekhitarian Congregation on the Island of San Lazzaro in Venice. Upon arrival, Catholicos Karekin II and the Armenian bishops visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II in the crypt below Saint Peter’s Basilica, and offered a solemn prayer for the repose of his soul. The Catholicos and the Armenian delegation also visited the newly named St. Gregory the Illuminator plaza inside St. Peter’s courtyard and viewed the statue of the patron saint of the Armenian Church, placed there during the pontificate of John Paul II. Immediately afterwards, the Armenian delegation of clergy and laity participated in the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, jointly held by Pope Benedict XVI and Catholicos Karekin. The two church heads exchanged messages of greeting, a fraternal embrace and kiss of peace on the platform before a crowd of more than 35,000 faithful. That same afternoon the Catholicos was presented with an Honoris Causa doctorate from the Pontifical Salesian University recognizing his fruitful work in Christian Education and Youth Instruction. On 8 May Catholicos Karekin and his delegation visited the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and conveyed his blessings and warm greetings to the participants of a symposium dedicated to the study of the Armenian Divine Liturgy organized by Fr. Robert Taft.

On 9 May, the delegation of 100 Armenian bishops and faithful went to the
Apostolic Palace of the Holy See, for a private audience under the joint presidency of Catholicos Karekin and Pope Benedict. The two pontiffs again exchanged warm messages of greeting and brotherly love, embraced with a solemn kiss of peace and spoke of the strong ties and increasing collaboration between the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church and the Roman Catholic Church. A short prayer service was held under the presidency of both church heads, following which, the faithful approached the Catholicos and the Pope to kiss their hands and receive their blessings. At the conclusion of the audience, Catholicos Karekin and Pope Benedict met privately during lunch to discuss issues of importance to both Churches.

In the afternoon, Catholicos Karekin met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Vatican Guest House for a private meeting. The Archbishop was coincidentally also in the Holy See and the two fondly recalled the Archbishop’s fraternal visit to Holy Etchmiadzin in September 2007, as well as discussed the forthcoming Lambeth Conference.

The final event at the
Vatican was an Ecumenical Prayer Service, offered at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where the grave of St. Paul the Apostle is located. Catholicos Karekin presided during the service, which included the participation of Roman Catholic and Armenian Church bishops and clergy.

Source: http://www.britishorthodox.org/116h.php

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