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October 15, 2001


An Ecumenical Prayer Service will mark the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as the state religion in Armenia. Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs will be the homilist. Representatives of Philadelphia area Christian churches will participate in this important celebration.

Sunday, October 21, 2001
7:00 p.m.
Saint Sahag & Saint Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church
630 Clothier Road
Wynnewood Pa
Reception to take place after service

The prayer service is sponsored by the Armenian Inter-Communal Committee of Philadelphia as it observes the proclamation of Christianity as the state religion in Armenia in the year 301 A.D. Even before official acceptance by the Roman Empire, however, many Armenians actively practiced their Christian faith.

As part of the international observance of this milestone, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, visited Armenia from September 25 - 27, 2001. The Holy Father celebrated Mass and visited a monastery. The Pope prayed before an ancient dungeon, where, according to tradition, Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years. Saint Gregory's prayers are credited with the eventual conversion of the Armenian king and the entire nation in 301 (Catholic News Service, September 28, 2001). Today there are approximately 150,000 Catholics in Armenia, out of a total population of 3.8 million.

Until 1981, Armenian Catholics in the Philadelphia area looked to the Latin-rite Archbishop as their shepherd. In 1981, an Armenian Catholic exarchate (similar to a diocese or Archdiocese) was established in New York City for Armenian Catholics in the United States and Canada.


Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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