BEIRUT (Armenpress and PanArmenian.net) — Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the Patriarchal Synod of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, Beirut, on the death of Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, at age 75, on June 25 as a result of a heart attack.
Vatican news sources reported that the pope recalled his close collaboration with the patriarch, one of the most prominent consequences of which was the recent declaration of St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church. “I entrust to the merciful Father the soul of this devoted pastor who, as a priest dedicated himself tirelessly to the service of the communities for whom he was responsible, and later, as bishop, carried out his ministry with faith and zeal, first in Alexandria and then as Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. I join in prayer with all those who are affected by his sudden passing and convey my apostolic blessing, in particular to the bishops of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, the family of the deceased and all those who are to attend his funeral,” Pope said in a statement.
The Egyptian-born patriarch, who resided in Lebanon, was widely known for serving the Armenian community and promoting its interests. The patriarch had visited Armenian communities in Europe, the Middle East and the US to boost Armenian catholic schools.
At his request, the archbishop of Mardine, Ignace Maloyan, martyr of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, was sanctified by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
The Catholicos Patriarch also sent the first parish priest to Moscow in 2002 in an attempt to begin a new mission among the Armenian Catholics in Russia, following the opening in 1991 of missions in Armenia and Georgia.