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Upon the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia arrived in Armenia and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin on March 16 for an official visit.
The airplane of His Holiness Kirill I, landed at the "Zvartnots" International airport at 15:00. His Holiness Karekin II, and a delegation of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church met the Patriarch of All Russia at the airport.
Mr. Armen Ashotian, Minister of the Republic of Armenia Minister of Science and Education as well as Mr. Vyacheslav Kovalenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Armenia; Mr. Oleksandr Bozhko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Ukraine to Armenia; Mr. Stepan Sukhorenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Armenia; Mr. Shohrat Jumayev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkmenistan to Armenia; and Mr. Aiymdos Bozzhigitov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to Armenia; came to greet His Holiness Kirill I at the airport.
Following the fraternal embrace of the two Patriarchs, students from the Armenian Church Youth Center presented the traditional welcome of salt and bread to the Patriarch.
The two Heads of the Churches walked through a police escort to the awaiting welcoming delegation. His Eminence Archbishop Yeznik Petrosian, General Secretary for Inter-church Relations of the Armenian Church, introduced the clergy and the ambassadors to the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In the airport, the Pontiff of All Armenians and the Patriarch of All Russia answered questions of the journalists who had gathered.
His Holiness Kirill I, is escorted by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations; Archbishop Feognost of Sergiyev Posad, Metropoliton Sergi the Bishop of Solnechnogorsk; Fr. Filipp Ryabykhv, Fr. Alexsander Vastut, Senior Deacon Vladimir Nazarkin, Deacon Antoni Sevruk, Vladimir Legoida, chairman of the Synodal Information Department of the Patriarchate of Moscow and Michael Kuksov.
From the airport, the two Pontiffs and their retinue traveled to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
Also, this article about the welcoming service at the Mother Cathedral of Etchmiadzin:Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Welcomed to Armenia and the Mother See
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services Mar 16, 2010 1:32 AM
On March 16, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, were met in the Mother See by a procession of members of the Brotherhood and seminarians of Holy Etchmiadzin, Diocesan Primates and faithful.
Under the ringing of bells and the singing of the hymn "Hrashapar", the two Pontiffs were led to the Mother Cathedral as they blessed the gathered faithful.
In front of the Holy Altar of Descent, the two church heads bowed and kissed the Holy Cross and the Gospel. Under the singing of the hymn "Rejoice Today", His Eminence Archbishop Navasard Kjoyan, Vicar General of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese, entered with the Holy Right Hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator from the Museum of the Mother Cathedral. His Grace Bishop Ararat Kaltakjian, Grand Sacristan of the Mother See, placed the relic near the altar for the Pontiffs, clergy and the faithful to kiss and be blessed by the Holy Right Hand. The Russian clergy also sang hymns dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator.
Welcoming the visit of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Pontiff of All Armenians stated in part: "Your visit to Armenia begins with a prayer in this Cathedral of the Holy Descent of the Only Begotten. Our joint prayer is the guarantor and witness of the true unity of the Holy Church of Christ. It is the spirit of Christian fraternity when we, as the children of our Heavenly Father, address God with the Lord’s Prayer: "Our Father Who are in heaven". Your visit is witness to the unity of God, the Gospel and the Church, as the one body of Jesus Christ and a true and constant reality".
Reflecting on the spirit of Christian fraternity and the long-standing relationship between the Armenian Apostolic and Russian Orthodox Churches, the Catholicos continued, "Dear Brother in Christ, during these days our Church and nation will enjoy your love and blessings, prayer and support and will pass onto you the love and warm feelings of the Armenian people towards the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian nation. Over the centuries the Russian people have continuously showed hospitality and brotherly care toward the Armenians living in the Russia.
In his remarks, Patriarch Kirill extended his appreciation for the fraternal and warm reception. Reflecting on the importance of the Christian faith in the life of the Armenian nation, Patriarch Kirill mentioned the great saints of the Armenian Church: St. Gregory the Illuminator and St. Hripsime and her companions who sowed the seeds of faith in the blessed land of Armenia.
At the conclusion of the ceremony the two Pontiffs blessed the faithful with the Holy Right Hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator and were escorted to the Pontifical Residence by the ecclesiastical procession.