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ANTELIAS, Lebanon -The pilgrimage day in Antelias becomes an opportunity for a long-awaited meeting every year between the faithful and the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Our people once again experienced this unique moment on March 9, when the Catholicosate of Cilicia was filled with a large number of the faithful who had come to commemorate the beginning of Saint Gregory the Illuminator’s imprisonment in Khor Virab.

His Holiness Aram I presided over the Holy Mass held in Antelias on the occasion of the Pilgrimage Day. The Prelate of the Western Prelacy of Northern America, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian officiated the mass and delivered the sermon. The Catholicosate’s “Shenorhali” choir sang the hymns under guidance from artistic director Zakar Keshishian. While both the bells of the Mother Church were being tolled during “Havadamk”, the Pontifical procession started marching from the Veharan, led by Cilician Brotherhood members carried the box in which the Holy Relic of Saint Gregory the Illuminator is placed. The silver-coated Relic consists of a bone from the right hand of the Patron Saint of the Armenian Church.

In his Sermon, Archbishop Mardirossian first spoke about the life and dedication of the Greatest Saint of the Armenian nation starting from his years as a young teen when he was rescued from a vengeful Armenian king and taken to Kayseri, where he received Christian education. Recounting the historical chronicles, the Archbishop talked about the great conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity following the efforts of the Saint. Finally, he prayed to God to keep the Catholicosate of Cilicia strong and for peace in our Lebanese homeland.

Following the mass, a large procession of the Cilician Brotherhood members, priests and Seminary students carrying several Holy Relics made a round tour around the Mother Church led by Catholicos Aram I. During the procession, elderly faithful with awful tears and children with innocent smiles kissed the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, presenting their wishes to God and relying on the prayers of the Great Saint. When the procession returned to the Mother Church, the Pontiff and the religious class went up the Altar, where the ceremonious service of water blessing was held with the Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. The Catholicos blessed the faithful with the Holy Right Hand of the Patron Saint.

The Catholicos recited the “Paradya” prayer for curing the ill and a special prayer for the strengthening of faith. It said: “We, your pilgrim sons, oh Saint Gregory, the great pilgrim of God, appeal to you from the Cathedral of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias. Oh Illuminating Pontiff, bless our nation in Armenia and the Diaspora under your Holy Right Hand. Bless in particular, your pilgrim people gathered in the Mother Church in Antelias. Erase our sins, cleanse our spiritual and physical faults; grant health to the sick; enlighten the dark paths of our life; flourish with heavenly goods the life of our nation’s children, our families and our Big Family, the life of your honorable people for the brightness of the Holy Armenian Apostolic and Orthodox Church and for the eternity of the Armenian nation.”

After the water blessing service, the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator was placed on the main Altar under the watchful eyes of Cilician Brotherhood members. Armenian and foreign faithful visited the Catholicosate until 8:00 OM in the evening to kiss the Relic. After Atchahampouyr, the faithful also visited the Holy Trinity Altar, kneeling before the Relic of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and praying to God in this sacred area.
Disabled People International

ANTELIAS, Lebanon - His Holiness Aram I received today a group of disabled people from Africa and several European countries, representing the Disabled People International organization. The group, which comprised handicapped and blind people met with His Holiness.

The representatives informed the Catholicos of plans to form a union for the disabled in the Middle East in order to encourage attention and activities aimed at helping disabled people.

Addressing the guests, the Catholicos saw in their mission the truest principles of Christianity. In his speech, he replaced the word disabled with the concept of people “with other abilities”, because such people serve society in various ways despite their inability to carry out certain tasks due to physical obstacles. The Catholicos stressed that such people should be given more consideration in our societies in order to make use of their mental and other capacities. He highly praised his visitors, each of which told about his work, service and experiences in life.

Catholic Relief Services

ANTELIAS, Lebanon - Catholicos Aram I received the deputy director of the Catholic International Relief Organization, Bishop John Fares, in Antelias on March 5. The General Director of the organization’s Middle East Department accompanied Bishop Fares. The New York-based relief organization carries out large-scale humanitarian projects.

The Pontiff and Bishop Fares held talks that lasted for over an hour and focused on humanitarian assistance projects in Lebanon, particularly those aimed at rebuilding the country and developing the quality of life of immigrants in the post-war period. His Holiness Aram I also talked about the economic crisis, stressing the need to create jobs for the youth in order the stop the exodus of Christians from the Middle East.

The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is one of the two Catholicosates of the Armenian Orthodox Church. Its jurisdiction extends over the Armenian Communities in the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. The Catholicosate, the administrative center of the church is located in Antelias, Lebanon. /// Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia - Communication and Information Department.
Contact: V. Rev. Fr. Krikor Chiftjian, Communications Officer.

Armenian Catholicosate Of Cilicia's Address
PO Box : 70 317 Antelias - LEBANON
Tel: (+961-4) 410 001 / 3
Fax: (+961-4) 419724


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