His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians visits Patriarch of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch at the St. Ephraim Monastery

13 November, 2009, Damascus ( Syria) - His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Catholicos of All Armenians visits His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Supreme Patriarch of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch at the Monastery of St. Ephraim, the Syrian here on November 13, Friday.

The delegation was received at the entrance of St. Peter's & St. Paul's Cathedral by Arch Bishop of Aleppo His Eminence Dr. Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Arch Bishop of Lebanon & Holy Episcopal Synod Secretary His Eminence Mor Theophilose George Saliba, Arch Bishop of Jazirah & Euphrates His Eminence Mor Osthatheos Matta Rohum, Patriarchal Vicar for Zahle His Eminence Mor Yusphinos Paulose Yusuf Safar, Assistant to Patriarch & Director of St. Ephraim Seminary His Eminence Mor Philexinos Mathias Nayis and Arch Bishop of Beirut & Patriarchal Institutions in Atchaneh His Eminence Mor Clemis Daniel Malak Kourieh.

The delegation includes six bishops led by Arch Bishop of Damascus, priests, deacons and lay men. His Holiness Hazim Patriarch of Greek Orthodox Church, Damascus also was present at the occasion.

H H Ignatius Zakka I Iwas made a welcome speech and presented the visiting Patriarch a golden Pastoral Staff (Amsavadi) and gifts to the delegation.

Then the visiting Patriarch delivered a speech in Armenian Language and was translated into Arabic.

Then all attend the love feast hosted by H H Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.

welcome speech of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas during the visit of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians

Your Holiness, Your Eminences, Respected Clergy, the distinguished guests accompanied with His Holiness and gentlemen:

It is indeed my great pleasure to welcome you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while thanking Him for this wonderful occasion, when His Holiness KAREKIN II, the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of All Armenians, has pleased to give us a visit and has thus blessed us all. We heartily thank Your Holiness and all the members of the delegation, accompanied your Holiness, in this gesture of brotherly love.

We remember with joy, our visiting Your Holiness, in Holy Etchmiadzin in 2002, and the warm welcome, rendered to us by Your Holiness. Thus through these visits, we continue to renew and improve, the centuries old, dynamic relation, and the mutual love and respect, between our two sister churches.

When we look back into history, this relation between the Syrian Orthodox and the Armenian Orthodox churches, is a deep rooted one, and extending to, more than Thousand and Seven Hundred years. Right from the beginning, the two churches have been, like one church, in the one true faith, and were in full intercommunion, along with the Coptic Orthodox church, and at the same time, by maintaining the unique cultures of their own. Church history records that, the fathers of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, carried the torch of Holy Gospel to Armenia, and thus the Armenian people, accepted Christianity. And more than that, the Armenian language, at first adopted the Syriac alphabet, and in the beginning of the fifth century, the Armenian Scholar : Mesrob, in co-operation with, the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Daniel, invented the Armenian Alphabet and translated the Holy Bible and some Syriac Books into Armenian language.

Also while remembering the past era of persecutions, both our churches shared the cross of our Lord and witnessed Him together. In the history written with blood and tears, both the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church suffered a lot, to upkeep our true faith, and thousands and thousands of martyrs sacrificed their lives on the altar of our Lord. Thus our two churches, not only have the same faith, but have many things in common. So, Your Holiness, all of us here, are really honored by the visit of Your Holiness, the head of that sister church of our own.

I wish your Holiness and the delegation, a pleasant time in Syria. And I am happy that Your Holiness is visiting the President of the Syrian Arab Republic: His Excellency Dr. Bashar al-Assad. You are all aware that, we, here, in this esteemed country of Syria, enjoy our freedom to practice our religion as Christians and to build churches and monasteries. We also enjoy all rights and responsibilities as citizens of this noble country. Here, we all live in full cooperation with other Christian Churches in this country and have good relations with our Muslim brothers too. We are grateful to His Excellency the President, for his wise and able leadership and we pray God Almighty to grant him good health and long life. We are glad that, Your Holiness has now come to visit us in this esteemed country of Syria, because Your Holiness can now be a witness to all that you see here.

Your Holiness, I am also delighted to congratulate Your Holiness for the brilliant leadership to the Armenian Church, leading to its steady progress and welfare, ever since Your Holiness has been chosen by God as its head. We wish Your Holiness good health and long life and pray for the continued progress and welfare of our sister Church - the Armenian Church. I may also use this opportunity, to pay my tributes and salutation, to all the blessed leaders, clergy and the faithful of the Holy Armenian Church, for upholding the true orthodox faith of the church.

We sincerely thank your Holiness and the delegation, for paying us this visit, and thus, making this day, a day of heavenly joy. This visit is a remarkable event in the history of our churches. Also we thank all those who have arrived here so as to make this an auspicious occasion. Let us follow the foot steps of our Forefathers and upkeep the true faith and the ancient traditions. Let us pray the Almighty to strengthen us, to together witness Him in this modern age.

As a token of my love, and thankfulness, for your visit, we may present to Your Holiness, a pastoral staff, used by the bishops of both our churches. Also some small gifts to the bishops and mementoes to the gentlemen accompanied Your Holiness. Thank you all.

Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Patriarch of Antioch & All the East
Supreme Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch

Source: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate

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