Armenian Pontiff to Make Historic Visit to California

The Largest Armenian Diaspora Community in the World Eagerly Awaits Pontiff’s Arrival

LOS ANGELES–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia will begin a 15-day Pontifical visit to the State of California on October 5–2005. The historic trip of the Pontiff–who prominently serves as the Moderator for the World Council of Churches (WCC)–an organization representing over 400 million Christians worldwide–will be framed around the theme of "Towards the Light of Knowledge." His Holiness represents hundreds of thousands of Armenian American Christians whose ancestors made Armenia the first nation to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD.

During his visit to California–His Holiness will participate in a number of religious ceremonies–educational programs and youth forums in Los Angeles–Fresno and San Francisco. The Pontifical visit will begin on October 5th with an official welcoming ceremony at Saint Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church in Hollywood and conclude with a visit to the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School in San Francisco on October 18th. The Pontiff will visit a number of other areas–including Fresno–where he will deliver his Pontifical message on October 10th at the historic Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. His Holiness will expand on the theme of his Pontifical visit "Towards the Light of Knowledge" at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on October 14th.

As the spiritual leader of the Great House of Cilicia–His Holiness represents a religious center established in 1441 to serve the spiritual needs of Armenia’s living in the Near East. For centuries–the Great House of Cilicia maintained a network of over 15 dioceses–dozens of monasteries and was served by hundreds of faithful priests. Following the Armenian Genocide of 1915–during which 1.5 million Armenia’s were massacred and their houses of worship destroyed–the Catholicosate was relocated to Antelias–Lebanon.

As the Moderator for the WCC–His Holiness represents the broadest and most inclusive organization of the modern ecumenical movement–a movement whose goal is Christian unity. The WCC brings together more than 340 churches–denominations and church fellowships in over 100 countries and territories throughout the world–representing some 400 million Christians. The WCC brings together most of the world’s Orthodox churches–scores of denominations from such historic traditions of the Protestant Reformation as Anglican–Baptist–Lutheran–Methodist and Reformed–as well as many united and independent churches.

Today the Catholicosate of Cilicia houses a prominent Cathedral–a Veharan (the Catholicos residence)–accommodations for visiting clergy–modern printing facilities–a museum–a library–as well as administrative offices to run a prominent Seminary and various dioceses in the United States–Canada–Lebanon–Syria–Iran–Greece and Cyprus operating under its jurisdiction.

The visit of His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia to the United States has been initiated by His Eminence–Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church on the occasion of the 90th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet.

The Pontifical visit will be marked by a number of memorable occasions–including; a pontifical mass at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale on October 9th–a youth forum in Fresno on October 10th–a visit to Fresno University’s campus on October 11th–a major address on "Christianity in the Middle East" to be delivered at the World Affairs Council on October 14th and a symposium on the "Christian Response to Violence" to be held at the University of Southern California on October 15th.

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