The reception ceremony for His Holiness Pope Francis has started at the Presidential Palace where he will meet with the Armenian authorities, representatives of the Armenian public, and members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Yerevan. Prior to that, President Serzh Sargsyan and His Holiness Pope Francis had a private meeting at the Golden Hall of the Presidential Palace.
The President expressed gratitude to His Holiness for accepting the invitation to visit Armenia – the First Christian Nation, for bringing blessings and grace to our ancient land and long-suffering people.
At the meeting, in accordance with the protocol there took place the ceremony of gift exchange. President Serzh Sargsyan presented to His Holiness Pope Francis a bronze statuette of the genius of the medieval Armenian thought, a Doctor of the Universal Church Saint Gregory of Narek. During the Pope’s visit, at the Presidential Palace there took place the ceremony of cancelling of a stamp and four postage stamps designed into a mini sheet in a form of a cross, dedicated to the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Armenia. The President of Armenia presented them to His Holiness Pope Francis. The souvenir sheet with one stamp depicts Pope Francis against the backgrounds of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, as well as the logo dedicated to the visit of Pope Francis to Armenia and the coat of arms of Pope Francis. The format of four stamps designed into a form of a cross has a symbolic meaning for the visit of Pope Francis to the first Christian Nation. The four stamps depict Pope Francis against the backgrounds of the statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator donated to the Vatican by Armenia, a monument dedicated to the theme “Armenia – the first Christian nation” in Yerevan, inner parts of the Main Cathedral of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and Saint Peter`s Basilica in the Vatican. The souvenir sheet bears the inscription “Pope Francis. Armenia. 24-26 June, 2016”, as well as “Visit to the first Christian Nation” which is the official motto of this visit.
On the occasion of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis’s visit to the Republic of Armenia, the Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia has issue a commemorative medal. Pope Francis has also received it as a gift from the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan. On one side of the medal there is Khor Virap monastery against the background of Mount Ararat and the dates of the Pope’s visit, and the reverse side of the medal depicts the statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator at the outer niche of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and the coat of arms of the Catholic Church.
His Holiness Pope Francis presented to the President of Armenia the original of the commemorative medal which was made on a special occasion of his visit to the Republic of Armenia.