ANTELIAS–His Holiness Aram I–the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–departed for Tehran Wednesday to take part in the annual pilgrimage to the St. Thadeus Monastery in Iranian Azerbaijan located in the north-western section of the Islamic Republic.
The Catholicos–arrived in Tehran in the afternoon of the same day–after passing through the Island of Cyprus–where he was greeted by Cypriot Armenian community members–as well as the clergy.
Upon arriving in the Iranian Capital–the Catholicos was greeted by the prelates of the three Iranian prelacies–as well as members of the executive councils–in addition to governmental officials.
Aram I conducted the traditional blessing of the bread and salt at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport–before holding a press conference–when he praised the Iranian Armenian community for the contribution to the Holy See of Cilicia–as well as to the advancement of the Iranian republic. The Pontiff also spoke about his participation in the pilgrimage–noting the significance of the event as a historic one.
Leaving the airport–the visiting Pontiff and his entourage arrived at Tehran’s St. Sarkis Cathedral–where they were greeted by parishioners and community members. In his address to the community–Aram I commended the Iranian Armenia’s for conducting their lives according to their beliefs–and for being an example in the non-Armenian society.
A wreath laying ceremony took place at the Genocide Memorial in the church yard.
At a banquet that evening–the Pontiff was once again welcomed to Iran–and well wishers extended their greetings to the Catholicos. Aram I–again praised the community’s work–and encouraged more such advances–especially among the three prelacy regions in Iran. The Catholicos also challenged the community to become much more actively involved in the country’s development and advancement.
The following day–Aram I visited the republic’s Islamic inter-Religious Center–where he met with chairperson Ayatollah Taskhirin. The two religious leaders spent well more than an hour discussing issues surrounding the religious world–as well as the Armenian community’s contributions to Iran. They both agreed that further work is needed in the area of Christian-Muslim cooperation.
Taskhirin also conveyed the importance of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in issues concerning Iran-Armenia relations–in addition to the Armenian Cause.
Before leaving to Tabriz–Aram I visited Ararat Cultural and Athletic Center–where he participated in a cultural program–and an ensuing banquet.