On Sunday 7 March His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos–Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, attended Mass presided over by the Holy Father Francis in the “Franso Hariri” stadium in Erbil, in northern Iraq.
At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis warmly greeted the Catholicos–Patriarch with the following words: “I greet with affection His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos–Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, who resides in this city and honours us with his presence. Thank you, dear Brother!”
Together with the Catholicos–Patriarch, the Holy Father evoked the Christians of the various confessions present in Iraq, recalling their common suffering, seed of unity: “Together with him, I embrace the Christians of the various denominations: so many of them have shed their blood in this land! Yet our martyrs shine together like stars in the same sky! From there they call us to walk together, without hesitation, towards the fullness of unity”. At the end of the Mass, His Holiness Mar Gewargis offered a chalice to the Holy Father.
The Catholicos–Patriarch was accompanied by His Grace Mar Elia Isaac, Assyrian Bishop of Baghdad, Ukraine and Georgia, together with His Grace Mar Abris Youkhanan, Assyrian Bishop of Erbil and Patriarchal Vicar, and His Grace Mar Paulus Benyamin, Assyrian Bishop of Chicago.
Also in attendance at the Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Holy Father were His Grace Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul, and His Grace Ghattaz Hazim, Metropolitan of Baghdad and Kuwait of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.
Photos © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media