ECHMIADZIN (Noyan Tapan)–His Holiness Karekin II–Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–began his first pontifical visit to the Diocese of Shirak–Tuesday.
On the frontier of the Shirak Diocese His Holiness was met and welcomed by Felix Piroumian–the Regional Governor of the Shirak Region–Vardan Goukassian–the Mayor of Gumri; Archimandrite Mikayel Ajapahian–the Vicar General of the Shirak Diocese–accompanied by the diocesan clergy and regional and municipal authorities’ representatives.
Historical Gumri being the first place to visit–His Holiness–solemnly entered the diocesan headquarters Church of Yotverk St. Asdvadzadzin–singing hymns. Dozens of people were awaiting his arrival and his words of blessing. His Holiness welcomed the people present–among whom were regional and municipal authorities–His Eminence Archbishop Nerses Nersissian–and the Spiritual Head of the Armenian Catholic Community of Armenia–Georgia and Eastern Europe. Archimandrite Mikayel Ajapahian mentioned in his speech that this first pontifical visit of His Holiness to a diocese inside Armenia is a sign of appreciation of Gumri’s pious people and their undeniable faith.
"It is true that during the past decades the greater part of our people’s tortures–pains and experiences became the share of Gumri’s people–our faithful flock of the Shirak Diocese. We give glory and thanks to God that during those years Gumri’s people’s faith did not weaken. The best proof of it We witnessed in this Church–We witnessed your warm faith that is exceptional devotion," said His Holiness upon seeing the people’s enthusiasm and the warm manifestation of faith. His Holiness welcomed and gave his pastoral benediction and blessing to the people–exhorting them to remain unshaken in their ancestors’ sacred faith and traditions.
During the first day of the visit–His Holiness–together with the clergy accompanying him and the Vicar General of Shirak Diocese–visited the site of the construction of a new church in the Ani district and became acquainted with the course of the construction works.