The relations between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church are getting more cordial as the years go by, basically because of the Pope’s Christian spirit and camaraderie.
Pope John Paul was the first Pope to visit Armenia at the end of September 2001 and on September 26, the Holy Father visited the Armenian Martyrs Monument in Dzidzernagapert and paid a very moving tribute to the more than 1.5 million Armenians who were killed during the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman government. Thousands attended the event, including Charles Aznavour and yours truly. Pope Francis also visited Armenia and Dzidzernagapert in June 2016. His remarks were well received by the thousands of Catholics and people in general, around the world.
The Vatican issued stamps commemorating the visit of Pope Francis. Designed by Daniela Longo, the stamps shows Pope Francis at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument in Armenia. The Pope decided to erect a bronze statue of Saint Gregory of Narek (Krikor Naregatsi), the 10th century world renowned Armenian monk, philosopher, poet, and intellectual. On April 5th, 2018, the Pope consecrated the St. Gregory statue in the Gardens of the Vatican in front of religious, political, and community leaders. On April 15, 2015, in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, the Pope declared Gregory of Narek the Doctor of the Church.
This cordial and deserving relationship gives pride to both churches, and the Armenian Apostolic Church becomes more and more in the public eye because of the Vatican’s efforts.
Thousands visit the Vatican every year, and now that they can go to the Vatican Gardens, they will be introduced to Narekatsi’s statue. They will learn about the Armenian people, their history, their religious and intellectual life and contribution to civilization, all because of alert Popes. A public relations well deserving.
Thank you, Popes, for all you do to inform the people of the world about Armenians who have existed for centuries.