Radio Vatican – Armenia, Awaiting the Pope in the Words of a Religious – 19 June 2016

RV16012_ArticoloNext Friday, Pope Francis will take off for Armenia where he will stay for three days until 26 June. This country of the Caucuses had already embraced the Gospel by 301 AD, as is remembered by the motto of this apostolic visit: ‘Visit to the First Christian Country’. For the Catholic-Armenian community the awaited embrace with Francis is drawing near, as we are told in this report by  Davide Dionisi.

The first ‘Red Cross’ of the Caucuses was that of the Camillians of Ashotsk, an inhabited centre two-thousand metres above sea level that is the location of the Redemptoris Mater Hospital, a health-care institution created by John Paul II and Italian Caritas to provide care and treatment to the poorest members of the population after the earthquake of 1998. Father Mario Cuccarollo has been the head of this institution ever since its beginnings and here he tells us the story of the hospital and how people are awaiting the visit of Pope Francis. With a hope: that he will engage in an unplanned initiative and go and embrace its patients.

‘The hospital was built by Italian Caritas following a request by John Paul II. It is a hospital which in practical terms renewed the health-care service of the whole of the zone of the former region of Ashotsk, and it has twenty-one clinics in its local area. It is a prefabricated building which belongs to an area inhabited by about 15,000 people but it receives patients in practice from almost the whole of Armenia and also many from neighbouring Georgia. People are certainly awaiting the Pope with great fervour. He will be received as the most important person in the world, and thus there are great expectations’.