YEREVAN (Armenpress)—The Pope John Paul II, who arrived in Armenia on Tuesday to join in on the festivities, marking the 17 centuries of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity, visited the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan to pay homage to the 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Young Turks. The Pope said a prayer for the victims of the Genocide which reads:
O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us! Listen, O Lord, to the lament that rises from this place, to the call of the dead from the depths of the Mets Yeghern (Great Genocide), the cry of innocent blood that pleads like the blood of Abel, like Rachel weeping for her children because they are no more. Listen, Lord, to the voice of the Bishop of Rome, echoing the plea of his Predecessor Pope Benedict XV, when in 1915 he raised his voice in defense of “the sorely afflicted Armenian people brought to the brink of annihilation.”
Look upon the people of this land who put their trust in you so long ago, who have passed through the great tribulation and never failed in their faithfulness to you. Wipe away every tear from their eyes and grant that their agony in the twentieth century will yield a harvest of life that endures for ever.
We are appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people, and dismayed that the world still knows such inhumanity. But renewing our hope in your promise, we implore, O Lord, rest for the dead in the peace which knows no end, and the healing of still open wounds through the power of your love. Our soul is longing for you, Lord, more than the watchman for daybreak, as we wait for the fullness of redemption won on the Cross, for the light of Easter which is the dawn of invincible life, for the glory of the new Jerusalem where death shall be no more.
O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us all.
Pope John Paul II visited the presidential residence early Wednesday morning, where he held a half-an-hour meeting with President Robert Kocharian, and the two were joined by the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II near the end of the meeting.
Members of the president’s family were introduced to the Pope during a ceremony attended by spiritual fathers of the Roman Catholic Church and of the Armenian Apostolic Church, that followed the meeting, with the President and the Catholicos.
President Kocharian presented the Pope with a bronze sculpture of the Last Supper by Edward Shatikian and Ahtanak Shahumian’s painting, “The meeting with the past, present and future,” and Pope gave Kocharian a mosaic picture of Jesus Christ to Robert Kocharian.
The Pope arrived in Armenia Tuesday and at the airport he was met with the traditional bread and salt as well as with a handful of Armenian soil, which he kissed and blessed.
Hymns of the Vatican and Armenia were performed, and salutatory addresses were made.
Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Armen Khachatrian, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, other officials, foreign ambassadors to Armenia, clergymen of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, all met the Pope at the Airport with President Kocharian.