Pope to visit Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan this year
Following in the footsteps of St. John Paul II, who previously visited Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1999, 2001 and 2002 respectively, Pope Francis will visit Armenia on June 24-26, and travel to Georgia and Azerbaijan later in the year.
The visit to Armenia this summer follows an invitation of Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, the nation’s civil authorities, and the Catholic Church. Pope Francis had previously expressed his wish to visit the country in 2014, saying “I promised the three (Armenian) Patriarchs that I would go: the promise has been made. I don’t know if it will be possible, but I did promise.”
Armenia suffered a terrible genocide in 1915 which the Pope described as “one of many great persecutions” during a mass on 7 Sep. Ottoman Empire carried out a brutal persecution which targeted Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christian minorities. About 1.5 million Christians, most of them Armenians, were killed, and millions more were displaced as a result.
Pope Francis will visit the Caucasus nations of Georgia and Azerbaijan from Sept. 20 – Oct. 2. A Vatican statement said the Pope accepted “the invitations from His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, and the civil and religious authorities of Georgia and Azerbaijan”.