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YEREVAN. - The ecumenical ceremony led by Pope Francis and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II took place in Yerevan Saturday evening.

To the strains of George Handel’s Hallelujah, children came up to the stage, holding grape vines, soil and water in their hands.  Parallel with this, the video material on Noah’s Ark was screened, accompanied with the video message by Archbishop Armash Nalbandian, leader of the Damascus Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

“In the recent years, Armenia has become a similar ark of rescue for thousands of migrants from Middle East, whose ancestors escaped the Armenian Genocide by miracle. And now Armenians from Syria, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Iran will put handful of soil in the ark, where an Armenian grape vine will be planted. And let this gift to the Holy See - the Noah’s Ark with a part of Armenia - remind of this important spiritual ceremony,” Nalbandian noted.

The Catholicos and the Pope approached the model Ark, where they were joined by girls and boys dressed in the national costumes of the Armenian provinces.

They gave the Catholicos and Pope Francis the soil, brought from their respective countries, for consecration, These children had come from different regions of Syria, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Iran.

The presented theatrical allegory symbolizes a Biblical scene: the grape vine symbolizes Noah’s path to rescue and revival, since it was exactly Noah who, according to the Bible, went down Mount Ararat and planted a grape twig.  It is no coincidence that the emblem, which has been created on occasion of Pope Francis pilgrimage to Armenia, included the Biblical Mount Ararat.  The motto of the Pope’s visit is “Visit to the First Christian Nation”. Armenia will gift this model to Pope Francis and transport it to Vatican. 

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