"To abide by Etchmiadzin and to live for Etchmiadzin means to live with the holy legacy of our land, our history, and our Motherland. Furthermore, to live for Etchmiadzin constitutes our faithfulness toward our aspirations and expectations, all of them being our guide in Armenia and in the Diaspora. Today it is our collective dream to see our Motherland in good progress, and the Armenians gathered around her with our national and cultural values at hand, aiming at national and unified purposes, bearing at heart the vision of Holy Etchmiadzin and Mt. Ararat".
H.H. KAREKIN II, CATHOLICOS OF ALL ARMENIANS
The above pontifical message carries with it the kind of spiritual power that can transform the soul of every Armenian. It is a message focused on the authenticity and the validity of 1700-year old history. These words move our souls and oblige us to bow before divine and historic realities and make us confront eternal truths. It is in this same message that the Armenian Christian realizes his true existence.
How can we utter words on behalf of the mission of the Church without even alluding to the status of Holy Etchmiadzin, our Holy of the Holies? How can a person address the children of our people forgetting to acknowledge Holy Etchmiadzin and Mother Armenia which should appear on our lips and in our hearts in the first place?
Each word and each message that spring from the heart and soul of an Armenian should build both spiritual Etchmiadzin and spiritual Armenia in our being. Holy Etchmiadzin is indeed the birthplace of the Armenian Church, as it is the rock on which Mother Armenia is founded.
Glory and honor to Vasken I, Catholicos of All Armenians of Blessed Memory, whose inspiring presence ever cultivated our mind and soul with Christian love and faith, so that we could dedicate ourselves to our homeland and to secure Holy Etchmiadzin as the way of our renewed life.
Holy Etchmiadzin is the Font of our souls in which we were christened and which radiated a new capacity through the vision and the message of Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians of Blessed Memory. He distributed them to the children of our nation as spiritual nourishment and as a destination to eternity. Today the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is full of life, thanks to Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, who made himself the non-consuming oil burning in the Lantern of the Illuminator and the calling of our soil, a challenge that keeps us all awake in our commitments so that we may dedicate our lives in unlimited service to the Holy Altar of God. Indeed that Altar is where Christ descended, and it is through the light of that Lantern that we can behold the history of our past and welcome the dawn of our new Armenia, now bloomed and bright with the blessings of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The love of God obliges us to humbly acknowledge and justly witness the ever blossomed fields of the Armenian Church, headed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Holy of the Holies of all Armenians. It was in front of the Altar of Holy Etchmiadzin that our ancestors bowed their heads loyally and faithfully, anticipating in their souls the rebirth of our present generation. Along with that experience, our Mother Language in Golden Age Armenia embodied the newly written scripts by St. Mesrob, and at the same time the heroic sacrifice of the Holy Translators assured the essence of our nation adorned with multifaceted virtues and values.
We remember as clear as today when in 1976 we entered the Mother See for the first time. The Holy See was the same then as today, attractive from within and from without. What we witness today is the tireless accomplishments of His Holiness’ twelve years pontificate. Today, what we actually witness certainly entices and obligates us, the clergy and the laity alike, to extend our just and sincere gratitude to His Holiness. This refers not only to the Mother See, but also to the complete objectives and missions realized in various fields projected from a clear crystal as it were. Those accomplishments represent only the beginning of His Holiness’ journey during his Pontificate, and God knows how much more miraculous achievements under divine providence will register our history in the coming decades on behalf of His Holiness, thus enriching "the Birthplace of our souls".
How is it possible to speak about the mission of the Church without saying even one word in favor of the Church unity, a dream with which our Church and faithful are living? It is a fallacy if our words addressed to our people do not pave way toward unity. In this temporary life what is expected from us, clergy and laity, is to reject all foreign and destructive powers that create distance between us and the source of our Mother Tutor, namely, Holy Etchmiadzin. The Armenian Church is privileged to have our Hierarchic Sees which comprise golden bridges spanned toward the Mother See Holy Etchmiadzin, the unmatched authority whose head is the Chosen of God, the Catholicos of All Armenians in the land of Armenia.
We express our deep respects to all of our Hierarchic Sees and to their honorable incumbents and salute them for their God-given service to our people through their equally illustrious leaders. This we say asking them to humbly achieve the miraculous unity and bring it to life so that they may rise in our history as truly illustrious models.
God of our fathers, we ask Thee to bless our Holy Church and the Armenian nation so that we may respond to the challenge of church unity in utmost faith founded by our Illuminator St. Gregory, by the vision of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob, St. Nersess the Graceful, St. Gregory of Narek, and of those numerous saints who served unselfishly who left behind our holy legacy. That legacy is the embodiment of the Armenian Church, founded firmly by God Himself, along with her mission which includes prime tribute to the memory of millions of our martyrs of the Genocide whose graves are left unmarked.
Our Church has been and today remains to be the Mount Tabor of our nation’s children. The Armenian Church is the anchor of our existence, as it is the "Altar of Light" for our lives. Under the arches of that church we preach the Gospel of Christ and spread the knowledge of God to renew the lives of our faithful.
Let us keep our Church away from the danger of dissension, the Church originated from the vision of the Illuminator and from the "Altar of Light" of Holy Etchmiadzin. Our Church is identified by the name of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Great Mystery in which we feel the descent of the Son of God who founded our Church personally by the golden hammer in His hand. The eternal existence of the Armenian Apostolic Mother Church is guaranteed by our loyalty toward the Mother See, as long as we concentrate our mind and spirit on that Great Mystery which rises from earth to heaven.
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
Primate of the Armenian Church Western Diocese