VATICAN CITY–Within the celebrations being held this year in commemoration of the 1,700 anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity–the Episcopal Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church has asked His Holiness Pope John Paul II to honor the Armenian people with a Pastoral Letter. The Pontiff has kindly heeded this request and has accepted to assist a Eucharistic liturgy of the Armenian Rite to be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica on February 18–2001. Participating in the ceremony will be a delegation from the Western Region of the North American Armenian Catholic Church. The delegation includes Father Raphael Minassian and representatives from the Armenian Catholic Church from New York and Canada–headed by the new Prelate Manuel Batakian.
The Vatican philately is also to take part in the fruitful celebrations of this very important historical and religious event with a set of commemorative stamps. The images of the stamps have been taken from a precious illuminated code from 1569 kept in the National Library of Yerevan. One stamp depicts Saint Gregory the Illuminator and King Tirade after having been freed from his confinement as he prepares to give the king human features. The king is symbolically depicted as a beast not endowed with Faith. On another stamp–Saint Gregory Illuminator makes Agatangel write the history of Armenia’s before the converted King Tirade. On the third stamp–Saint Gregory Illuminator and King Tirade meet Emperor Constantine on one side–and Pope Sylvester I on the other.
This set of stamps was issued in homage to the Armenian people–and their profound and deeply rooted faith that has outlived the most severe tests–from genocide to domination by illiberal regimes–Diaspora and wars. A faith that is unflagging and is symbolically represented by the traditional crosses bearing flowers and sculpted on stone khatchkar–that evoke new strength–life and hope.