YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrated the Holy Feast of Nativity and Theophany on January 6. Thousands of faithful Armenia’s attended the divine liturgy performed by Catholicos Karekin II at Holy Echmiadzin on Christmas Eve.
In the course of the liturgy–His Holiness–giving his Christmas message to the Armenian nation–read the Pontifical Encyclical dedicated to the 1,700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as the state religion of Armenia. The same day the Encyclical was read in all the other Armenian Apostolic churches throughout the world.
"Standing on the Free land of Armenia and under its peaceful blue skies–as your grateful Catholicos of All Armenia’s–from the resplendent altar of Holy Echmiadzin we bring you the good tiding of Holy Nativity and with the greatest of joy announce the beginning of the celebrations marking the 1,700 jubilee of the conversion of our people and the declaration of Christianity as the state religion of Armenia."
"In the year 301–thanks to the vision and dedication of St. Gregory the Illuminator we were blessed and transformed by the descent of the Risen Lord on our land. Glorifying the Almighty and singing His praise ‘The only begotten descended from the Father and with him the light of His glory’–the entire Armenian nation stood before God in penance and sanctified its Historic land being the first among the nations to declare Christianity as state religion. As one Nation and in our entirety–we believed in the One true God–Who was true and all embracing love. We believed in His birth and Incarnation and in His Saving mission on earth," said His Holiness–mentioning that in the course of centuries-old history–full of calamities and misfortunes it was faith that inspired Armenia’s the will to live and create–faith has inspired all our victories.
"Yes–dearly Beloved–there is no death for us–as long as faith motivates our works. The glorious legacy of our church must continue to inspire our national ideals–strengthen our faith–nurture our noblest desires and bring us closer to God," continued His Holiness–exhorting to meet and find solutions to the urgent problems and challenges of our ecclesiastical and national life with the unifying spirit of the 1700 Jubilee.
"Let us rectify anomalies and free ourselves from complexities imposed upon us by difficult times and historic circumstances. Resolving all misunderstanding between the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin and the Catholicosate of Cilicia–let us embark upon the important task of the internal reform of the Armenian Church so that empowered by 2000 years of Christian heritage–we might bring a more active and a more meaningful contribution to the better understanding and cooperation among churches and nations and lead our nation to a prosperous future in our common belief of one Church–one nation and one state," His Holiness said.
He also conveyed greetings to the heads of the Armenian Church Hierarchical Sees; to His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; to His Beatitude Abp. Torgom Manoogian–the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; to His Beatitude Abp. Mesrob Mutafian–the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople–and to the entire clergy of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
His Holiness conveyed greetings also to the presidents of the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh–state officials and the faithful Armenian people–praising the people living in Armenia–who braving all kinds of trials and tribulations–still show great endurance and are determined to rebuild our blessed homeland. His Holiness praised also the people living in the Diaspora–who constantly support all the efforts of nation building–and churches’ rebuilding.
Following the divine liturgy His Holiness Karekin II performed the Ceremony of Blessing of the Waters–which symbolizes Christ’s Baptism.
Armen Khachatrian–President of the National Assembly–Andranik Margarian–Prime Minister–deputies government members–ministers–ambassadors accredited in Armenia–members of the Supreme Spiritual Council–representatives of philanthropic organizations–high ranking officials–and numerous guests attended the ceremony.
An official reception–in the course of which the invited guests congratulated His Holiness on the occasion of Christmas–was hosted at the headquarters of the Catholicos after the divine liturgy–which was broadcast in Armenia over state national television.