"Together–we have faced may trials; we have been subjected to persecutions and have been martyred for the sake of our faith."
YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–On the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II–Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas–Patriarch of Antioch and All the East–Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church–arrived in Armenia for a four-day visit.
A ceremony was held in the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin welcoming the Patriarch and his delegation. The Supreme Heads of both Churches offered prayers to God before the Holy Altar of Descent–and exchanged welcoming speeches.
In his welcoming remarks–His Holiness the Catholicos of All Armenia’s said–"The history of the brotherhood of our nations spans centuries. Our brotherhood became closer–when our two nations adopted Christianity. This bond has guaranteed maintaining the one and the same faith throughout the course of history. Together–we have faced many trials; we have been subjected to persecutions and have been martyred for the sake of our faith. However–God’s powerful Right Hand has protected us. Beloved Brother in Christ–we believe that in this new millennium–our brotherhood will bring new opportunities and results for both of our peoples. As the most ancient Churches of Christ–the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church should jointly undertake their role and mission in the Christian world–thus providing mankind a new era for a peaceful and happy life."
In turn–Patriarch Zakka I thanked His Holiness Karekin II for the very warm and kind reception. He stated–"We express gratitude to God for the existence of this blessed land of Armenia and we are proud to stand by her people. We offer prayers up to God asking that the Armenian and Syrian nations–following their ancestors–should maintain–protect and defend their faith…"
Reflecting on his return to "this soil which was blessed in biblical times"–the Patriarch congratulated the Catholicos–the College of Bishops–the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin and all of the Armenian faithful on the occasion of 1700th Anniversary of Proclamation of Christianity as the Official Religion of Armenia–as well as on the occasion of His Holiness’ election as Catholicos of All Armenia’s.
This is the second visit of Patriarch Zakka I to Holy Etchmiadzin. His first visit was twenty years ago–when he was received in 1982 by His Holiness Vazken I of blessed memory. The headquarters for the Syrian Orthodox Church is in Damascus–Syria. The Syrian Church is one of the four ancient or "Oriental" orthodox churches which are in full communion with the Armenian Church.