Catholicos Visits Javakhk: First Visit to Region by Head of Armenian Church in Century


AKHALTSKHA (President news service) — Earlier this week, Catholicos Karekin II started off on his visit to the region of Javakhk, Georgia. It was the first time that a head of the Armenian Apostolic Church set foot in the Armenian-populated area in over 100 years.

Accompanied by Ilia II, Catholicos patriarch of All Georgia, Karekin II was feted in the Georgian town of Borzhom, famed for its mineral waters. The two were greeted by local church and government officials.

From there, the Armenian Church delegation made its way to the town of Akhaltskha where they were received by Lasha Jkadvan, regional governor of Samtskhe-Javakhki, and Armenian Church Locum Tenens for Javakhk, Fr. Babken Salbyan.

The two church leaders then made their way to St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Akhaltskha. There to greet them were local community leaders and young Armenians dressed in folk costumes who offered the traditional welcome of bread and salt.

Karekin II then addressed the assembled crowd, saying he was pleased to see that Javakhk Armenians continued to follow the path of their ancestors and remain faithful to the Armenian Church.

The Armenian Church pontiff urged the crowd to boldly face the challenges confronting them while at the same time promising that the church would do all it could to provide religious and educational guidance.

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It was then the turn of Catholicos Ilia II to address the crowd. He stated that the trip of Karekin II was an historic occasion and stressed the important contributions made by Armenians in Georgia in the life of the country.

Karekin II then presented the church with a gift of a painting of the Holy Virgin Mother.

The delegation then made its way to the Hovhannes Tumanyan Armenian School in Akhaltskha. There they were entertained by students, who had prepared a literary and musical recital.

School Principal Svetlanna Harutyunyan welcomed the church leaders on behalf of the school staff and pupils. Karekin II then blessed all in attendance, urging them to watch over the educational institution as a national treasure.

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