YEREVAN. – On the final day of his trip to Armenia, Pope Francis visited Khor Virap Monastery on the border of Armenia and Turkey.

The pontiff toured the monastery and talked to the priest.

Khor Virap monastery is an Armenian sacred sanctuary and a place of pilgrimage, which is located at the Armenian-Turkish border.

The Armenian king Trdat who persecuted the Christians in Armenia, after having subjected the Saint Gregory the Illuminator to durable  sufferings, sent him to the death pit of the royal prison in Artashat, known as Virap Artashat. The Saint Gregory remained in the pit for almost 15 years. It is believed that he survived thanks to a woman who every day secretly threw a loaf of bread into the pit. St. Gregory was released from the dungeon 9 days after Hripsime virgins’ martyr.

Virap monastery was founded in the seventh century. In 642 His Holiness Nerses Tayetsi III built St. George Church on the pit. Khor Virap has been and remains a place of pilgrimage for centuries . Today, and every day people visit the monastery . Among them there are many tourists and also many Armenians from Diaspora.