The Holy See’s Resident Diplomatic Mission in the Republic of Armenia
For many of the world’s countries the longest standing diplomatic relationship is with the Papacy – itself the oldest diplomatic entity in the world. Relations with the Church of Rome and Armenia date back to the very origins of Christianity, 2000 years ago when Christianity spread from Jerusalem to the “known world” where meetings and exchanges became forums for questions that touched upon daily life.
Throughout the centuries, this very long and rich relationship between Armenia and the Holy See has continued to be strengthened. Accordingly, an Apostolic Nunciature (Embassy of the Holy See) was opened on North Avenue in Yerevan in 2021.
Modern formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Armenia began on 23 May, 1992, when the Republic of Armenia attained independence and both entities formally established relations. The Holy See for its part appointed as the first Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador) to Armenia, H. E. Jean-Paul Aimé Gobel (1993-1997). He was followed as Apostolic Nuncio by H.E. Peter Stephan Zubriggen (1998-2001), H.E. Claudio Gugerotti (2001-2011), H.E. Marek Solczyński (20011-2017) and H.E. José A. Bettencourt (2018 to present). Since establishing formal diplomatic relations with the Republic of Armenia, the Holy See has continually maintained diplomatic agents to foster relations with Armenia, alongside other initiatives on varying levels and channels between various institutions.
Over the years ongoing relation between the Holy See and Armenia took form with the work and presence of the Mekhitarist Congregation, the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the clergy of the Ordinariate for Catholics of the Armenian Rite in Eastern Europe, the Sisters of Charity in Spitak and Yerevan, with the Hospital “Redemptoris Mater” in Ashotzk, built after the 1988 earthquake, and with Armenian Caritas, to name but a few, all of which draw upon resources and support of the worldwide Catholic Church. These Catholic institutions in Armenia also provided valuable support to the Holy See’s diplomatic agents’ mission in the country. In the early years, Apostolic Nuncios could also rely on offices generously provided by succeeding Archbishops of the Ordinariate for Catholics of Armenian Rite in Eastern Europe.
In 2019 during his visit to Armenia H.E. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States, affirmed “the intention of all the Catholic communities present in Armenia – the Armenian Catholic, Catholics of the Roman rite and those of other rites – is to strive for the well-being of Armenian society as a whole. Our Communities continue to do this through their activities in the spiritual, cultural, educational, charitable and humanitarian fields” (press statement, 9 November, 2019 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yerevan).
The opening of the Apostolic Nunciature’s residence on North Avenue in Yerevan is a temporary arrangement in view of establishing a more substantive diplomatic mission with sufficient space to adequately support the multiple faceted engagements of the Holy See’s mission in the Republic of Armenia. While celebrating 30 years of official diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Armenia, the Holy See looks to building a future relationship that continues to prosper and benefit all Armenians.