YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–His Holiness Karekin II–Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–paid a visit to the National Assembly (the Parliament) of Nagorno-Karabakh–and had a meeting with Oleg Yessayan–the Speaker–and the members of the National Assembly–Tuesday. Afterwards His Holiness–accompanied by the Speaker–Archbishop. Pargev Martirossian–the Diocesan Primate–and his entourage–paid his pontifical visit to the villages and the holy places of Martouni Region.
In the course of the meeting with the deputies His Holiness mentioned–that as the Armenian Pontiff–he considered his urgent duty to visit those regions–where the passing decade had been more severe and full of challenges. Such was his first pontifical visit to the Shirak Diocese–as well as is the present visit to Karabakh. Expressing his joy for the establishment of peace in Karabakh–His Holiness prayed God asking to remove the threat of war–so that the peace–would never be broken.
His Holiness gave his fatherly blessing to the deputies and extended his appreciation to them–expressing assurance that their wise work and activity–based on national values and democratic principles–should continue to be the milestone for creating a powerful and prospering country.
In his turn Yessayan noted that the National Assembly is realizing its legislative work with a deep sense of responsibility.
At the end of the meeting His Holiness and the Diocesan Primate answered the deputies’ questions concerning the construction of churches in Karabakh–organization of festivities and celebrities dedicated to the 1700th Anniversary–the present-day mission of the Church in the national life. They informed–in particular–that since 1989 more than ten churches have been reconstructed in Karabakh and new ones are under construction. Presently repair and reconstruction works are proceeding in two churches of Dadivank and Tstitsernavank. To the joy of people of Karabakh–His Holiness as discussed the intentions of building a new church in Stepanakert.
Following the meeting–His Holiness continued his pontifical visit to the Martouni Region. His Holiness entered Amaras Monastery singing of church hymns. His Holiness extended glory and thanks to God for being at that holy place as the 132nd Catholicos of All Armenia’s–in a sanctuary–which was founded still during the reign of the first Armenian Pontiff – St. Gregory the Illuminator–and from where St. Mesrob Mashtots has spread the Armenian letters. His Holiness held a requiem service in Amaras Monastery as a tribute of respect to the memory of all those devoted people–who have built and preserved the Monastery–turning it into the symbol of Armenia’s’ eternal existence. Among those devoted persons is St. Gregory the Illuminator’s gran’son – St. Gregoris–during whose reign the construction of the Monastery came to an end–and whose tomb is under the Holy Altar of the Monastery.
On his way to Amaras Monastery His Holiness stopped and gave his blessing and message to the people of Martouni region and the region’s villages – Chartar–Sos–Machkalashen and Her-Her.
"As the Armenian Pontiff We have proudly stepped on the earth of Karabakh–witnessing embodied and living in you the best traditions of our history–our fathers’ noble traits – faith–will–courage and diligence," addressing the people of Martouni–said His Holiness with assurance that the people of Karabakh–who have shot their blood for the sake of freedom–thanks to their viable spirit–should manage to create a favorable and happy life also full of Christian love. The manifestation of the invincible faith of the people of Martouni is the construction of St. Nerses the Great Church–which has started only several months ago.
"Artsakh lives in freedom–Artsakh is independent–Artsakh has achieved peace," stated His Holiness in the crowded square of Chartar village–where he recited a prayer for the people martyred for the sake of peace–and visited the killed soldiers’ families.
His Holiness visited also the famous site of Skhtorashen–where there is a two thousand-year-old plane tree. That site has become a holy place for the people of Artsakh.
In the evening–at the ancient Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator–of Her-Her village–which was the last place–where His Holiness gave his blessing and benediction–seeing the children–who had come to meet and welcome the Armenian Pontiff with posters–and complying with their request–His Holiness promised to search for financial means for the reconstruction of the 1300-years-old church of the village. Apart from words of welcome children had also written on the posters: "Martyred soldiers’ families ask to reconstruct and to repair the church"–as well as: "We are ready to work as volunteers for the reconstruction of the church."
His Holiness met with Prime Minister Anushavan Danielian and all cabinet members–Wednesday.
The prime minister and cabinet members presented Karabakh’s programs on celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia. During the meeting–the sides also discussed church-state relations.