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Pope Francis: to unveil statue of Saint Gregory of Narek on 5 April

Next Thursday, 5 April, in the Vatican Gardens, the Pope will unveil a bronze statue of Saint Gregory of Narek, who is a hero in the Armenian culture, a doctor of the Church, a bridge between East and West, and an icon of ecumenism. The unveiling – the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See informs – will take place at noon, in the presence of Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia, of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The statue is the work of artist David Erevantsi. It was cast in bronze at a foundry in the Czech Republic and was made thanks to the financial support given by the Armenian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mikayel Minasyan, and by Arthur Dzhanibekyan. Two copies were made, one for the Vatican Gardens and one for the gardens of the Catholicosate in Etchmiadzin. “Art – the statement reads – thus becomes a message of brotherhood capable of uniting sister Churches”. The idea of presenting Vatican City and Pope Francis with the soon-to-be-unveiled bronze statue of Gregory of Narek came up two years ago, during the Pontiff’s journey to Armenia, when President Sargsyan gave the Holy Father a small bronze statue of the Saint in the hope that one day he would be able to see a bigger one in the Vatican Gardens. Gregory of Narek was a poet, a monk, a theologian, a philosopher, a mystic and a saint (951-1010). He is considered a central figure, almost a hero, in the history of Armenia, for he helped shape the Eastern Christian thinking. In some respects, from an intellectual point of view, he can be likened to Dante Alighieri, which is why some scholars consider him an extraordinary bridge between East and West. Pope Francis elevated him to the dignity of Doctor of the Universal Church on 12 April 2015 with a special apostolic letter, announced on that very day during a special mass celebrated in St Peter’s in the presence of Karekin II, Aram I, and Nerses Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics.

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