Catholicos Karekin II Ends Trip to Holy Land

ETCHMIADZIN (Noyan Tapan)– In continuation of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land–Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin II visited the Eleon Hill and the Garden of Gethsemane on January 22.

There is a footprint of Christ in the Chapel on the Eleon Hill and there is the "Our Father" Cloister near the hill–where Jesus Christ is said to have taught his disciples how to pray. Words "Our Father" are engraved in the walls of the Cloister in different languages–including Armenian. Stopping by the Armenian inscription–Karekin II and his entourage offered a prayer to the Lord "Our Father in Heaven…" The Supreme Patriarch also visited the Russian Church to talk to Russian monks. He also visited the graveside of Shushanik–the other of Prince of Siunik Artavan.

Thereafter–Karekin II headed for the Gorge of Gethsemane–the Grave of the Holy Virgin Mary. His Holiness kissed the Virgin’s Grave on bent knees and offered a prayer to the Most High.

On January 22–accompanied by a scout orchestra–the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem–ecclesiastics–a crowd of believers and pilgrims–the Catholicos headed for Holy Nativity Cathedral. Only the Armenian–Greek and Latin Churches are entitled to perform services in this Cathedral.

Approaching the Lord’s Hearse-Cloth–His Holiness kissed the Sacred Stone and burned incense–then went down to the Sepulcher. Kissing the Gravestone–the Supreme Patriarch went upstairs and delivered a good message to those present: "Christ has risen!"

From the Sepulcher His Holiness headed for the Upper Refectory–Second Golgotha. Psalms and canonical prayers were followed by an evening service.

The Holy Place is administered by the Armenian Church. According to the biblical legend–the Holy Virgin fainted at the steps leading to the Refectory. A Divine Liturgy is performed at the left-wing alter of the Refectory–bearing the name of the Holy Virgin Mary–every year after the festival of Transfiguration. The Alter commemorating the women who brought anointing oil for Christ is also situated there.

Karekin II will return to the Mother See of St. Etchmiadzin on January 25.

In continuation of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land–His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin II held separate meetings with primates and representatives of sister churches in Jerusalem on January 21. Also attending those meetings were Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Arch. Torgom Manoogian–Primate of the Eastern US Diocese Arch. Khajag Barsamian and Jerusalem bishop Nurkhan Manoogian.

On the morning of January 21–the Supreme Patriarch received a delegation of the Greek Orthodox Church led by Locum Tenens Arch. Vasilis Blatsios. Then–His Holiness hosted Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Arch. Michel Sabbah–who was accompanied by Head of the Greek-Catholic Church Lufti Lahami–Archbishop of the Maronit Church Paul Sayahi and a representative of the Franciscan Order.

The same day–Catholicos Karekin II held meetings with the heads of the Orthodox Coptic–Ethiopian and Syrian churches. Greeting the guests–the Supreme Patriarch wished them love and cooperation–stressing the responsibility of the church for the establishment of peace–love and fraternity on the threshold of a new millennium.

During his meeting with the Pope’s Nuncio–His Holiness attached importance to ecumenical relations–laying special emphasis on the links between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Roman Catholic Church that noticeably strengthened over the past decade. In this regard–the Supreme Patriarch mentioned the visit of his predecessor–Catholicos Karekin I–to Rome and the desire of the Pope to pay a visit to the Mother See of St. Etchmiadzin during Karekin I’s ailment.

In the afternoon–His Holiness received representatives of the Anglican and Lutheran churches. The guests expressed their concern over the decreasing number of Christians in Jerusalem. Regretting the fact–Catholicos Karekin II said that it was only through love for the Lord and belief in his might that the Holy Land would thrive. "Our Christian faith will allay all fears–it is our ecumenical spirit that matters and we ought to further build up this spirit," said His Holiness.

In the second half of the day Catholicos Karekin II–accompanied by the Patriarch of Jerusalem–visited the Armenian Patriarchy’s museum–library–man’scripts repository as well as the tombs of the blessed patriarchs–the Armenian cemetery of Jerusalem. He also visited Holy Angels Church and St. Sargis Treasury–examined the current state of spiritual–cultural–educational and national structures of the local Armenian community.

Later in the evening–His Holiness went to see the pupils of the Zharangavorats Theological School to whom he handed down his pastoral precepts. "The spiritual path is a vocation and sacrificial mission. Our garmen’s are not simply cloths–but rather our essence–our spirit–the core of our mission," said the Catholicos of All Armenia’s.

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