The Pope at the Armenian Genocide Memorial: flowers and prayers for the victims
Francis visits the "Hill of the Swallows," the Tzitzernakaberd Memorial Complex to commemorate those who died during the "Great Evil." A long silent prayer before the entrance of the building, then the Psalms and the Gospel in Armenian and Italian in the Flame Room of perpetual memory. Immediately after, a meeting with the descendants of those who were housed by Pope Benedict XV in Castel Gandolfo during the persecutions.
VATICAN - ARMENIA
The Pope to the Armenian Genocide Memorial: flowers and prayers for the victims
Francis visits the "Hill of the Swallows," the Tzitzernakaberd Memorial Complex to commemorate those who died during the "Great Evil." A long silent prayer before the entrance of the building, then the Psalms and the Gospel in Armenian and Italian in the Flame Room of perpetual memory. Immediately after the meeting with the descendants of those who were housed by Pope Benedict XV in Castel Gandolfo during the persecutions.
Yerevan (AsiaNews) - A long silent prayer, in order to entrust to the Lord the souls of the deceased but also to tragedies such as the Armenian genocide never happen again. The visit to the memorial that is located on the "Hill of the Swallows" was to be the moment more "sensitive" from a geopolitical point of view of the visit of Francis in Armenia and becomes instead the more purely spiritual.
The pope, accompanied by his retinue, comes to Tzitzernakaberd Memorial Complex a few minutes before 9 am (local time). To welcome him there is Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and the bishops of his Church. Also present were several political figures. Francis follows three soldiers, carrying the crown of yellow and white flowers - the colors of the Vatican flag - to the entrance of the Memorial.
The crowd gathered in the area is large, and welcomes with cheers and songs the arrival of Francesco. Among those present many young people and children, leading the genocide images.
After a long moment of silent prayer, Francis enters the building located on the "Hill of the Swallows". This consists of 12 high "stems" of stone, representing the 12 provinces that suffered the Armenian Genocide of 1915: inside there is the House of the Flame of perpetual memory. Right here, after laying the wreath, they stop the pope and his guests. Along with Karekin II, the pontiff intoned a psalm. One of the bishops of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Armenian law a passage from the Gospel; the same text is read little later in Italian by one of the Catholic bishops present.
In his prayer, Francis entrusts to the Lord present and remember the saints of which today we remember. April 23, 2015, the Armenian Apostolic Church has canonized into power a half million men, women and children who died because of their ethnic and religious affiliation. From that year on, the next day, April 24, becomes the "Day of Remembrance" for the victims, as announced by the Armenian Patriarch Karekin II in which he officially opened the celebrations of the centenary of the genocide.
The Holy Father, the Catholicos and the President is then transferred to the museum terrace. Down the garden path, the Pope blesses and watering a tree in memory of the visit. On the terrace there are also some of the 400 children descendants that since 1919, for several months, they were housed and cared for in the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo to the times of Pope Benedict XV and Pius XI. Both popes appealed at the time of the Ottoman sultan to put an end to the massacre in progress.
Before taking leave of the Holy Father signed the Book of Honor and moved then to Yerevan car at the airport from where the 10 am local time off - on board an Alitalia A321 - at a time of Gyumri.