The last meeting from the Pope’s trip to Armenia was in one of the most important Christian places in the country.
This is the Khor Virap monastery, formerly a fortress. Here at the bottom of a well, St. Gregory the Illuminator was arrested for 13 years in times of persecution against Christians. St. Gregory miraculously cured the king, who then converted and in 301 Armenia became the first Christian nation in history.
The Pope was received with bells, and of course, with an Armenian choir.
He went first to the chapel guarding the well, and the Armenian Patriarch explained the significance of the place. There they lit a votive candle together, and then proceeded to another chapel.
Here they used the same flame to light another candle the Pope brought from the Vatican. For the last time during the trip, they prayed the Our Father together, each in their own language.
The symbolic visit concluded at the viewpoint that faces Turkey, which is a few kilometers from the rigid border. From there one can see Mount Ararat where, according to tradition, Noah’s Ark stopped after the flood.
Therefore, as a gesture of peace, the Pope and Patriarch released doves toward Turkey.
Although the gesture was planned for weeks, it was even more meaningful because just one day before Turkey had criticized the Pope’s words on the Genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. They said it showed the Pope’s “mentality of the Crusades.”
Meanwhile, in Khor Virap, the Armenian choir said goodbye to Pope Francis with an Armenian melody sung with Latin text. It was a combination of styles that poetically summarized the result of the trip.