Below is the official transcript of the press release issued by the president’s public affairs department
President Serzh Sargsyan’s official visit to the Holy See started with a private meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis this morning.
The president of Armenia thanked the Supreme Pontiff for his dedication and sustained attention to bilateral relations and for entertaining a sincere and warm dialogue between Armenia and the Vatican. Serzh Sargsyan stressed that this is the fifth meeting with His Holiness for the past few years, which speaks for itself.
Noting that it is always a great honor for him to meet with Pope Francis, the Armenian president remembered warmly the Pope’s 2016 visit to Armenia, which was held under the motto of “Pilgrimage to the First Christian Country,” as well as his 2015 visit to the Vatican and the participation in the Divine Liturgy at St. Peter’s Cathedral, which became a historical event, since the genius child of the Armenian nation, St. Gregory of Narek was conferred upon the title of Doctor of the Ecumenical Church and was recognized as one of 36 greatest thinkers of the Catholic Church.
Noting that the statue of St. Gregory of Narek stands among the statues of other great saints in the heart of the Catholic world - the Vatican - Serzh Sargsyan expressed profound gratitude to the Pope for making a decision to that effect and went on to advise that a copy of the statue will be placed in Etchmiadzin, the spiritual center of the Armenian Church. Thus, St. Gregory of Narek and his legacy shall become an eternal symbol of solidarity between the two Christian communities.
During their private talk, the President Sargsyan and the Pope expressed readiness to further develop and deepen the Armenia-Vatican interstate relations, strengthen the spiritual and cultural ties between the two countries.
At the end of the meeting, the parties exchanged gifts. President Sargsyan presented the silver scale-model of St. Gayaneh Church to the Pope. His Holiness Pope Francis handed to the President a marble copy of the sculpture depicting the Holy Family, kept in one of Vatican’s museums, as well as copies of the last three books authored by the Pope.