Pope Francis blesses statue in Vatican Gardens in honor of St. Gregory of Narek

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This choral singing in Armenian began the inauguration ceremony of the new statue of St. Gregory of Narek in the Vatican Gardens. 

Pope Francis blessed the bronze piece in the likeness of this Armenian mystic from the 9th century. 

A large delegation from the Armenian government and Apostolic Church joined the Holy Father. The president of Armenia and the Apostolic Patriarchs Karekin II and Aram I were present. 

St. Gregory of Narek has been a Doctor of the Church since 2015. Pope Francis gave him this title in the same year as the centennial anniversary of the Armenian genocide. 

The saint is considered a hero of Armenian culture and one its most-celebrated poets. He's known as the St. Augustine of Armenians. He's also the symbol of ecumenism between Catholics and Orthodox Christians in Armenia. 

Before the ceremony, the pope met in private with the president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, with whom he discussed the reality of Christian minorities within the context of the war that plagues the region. 

The president presented the Holy Father with a replica of the church of St. Hripsime, one of the first Armenian Christian martyrs. Pope Francis gave the president a carving of the Holy Family and the main documents from his papacy. 

Later, the pope also met in private with Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, who presented him with St. Gregory of Narek's main works. 

Lastly, the Holy Father met with an enthusiastic Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia. 

The Armenian Apostolic Church separated from Rome following the Council of Chalcedon in 451. According to tradition, it was founded by the Apostles Bartholomew and Jude. 

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