In a message sent to Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan, administrator of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, Pope Francis mourned the death of Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, saying that he was “deeply rooted on the Rock that is Christ.”

The funeral for the deceased Patriarch was celebrated at the Cathedral of St. elie and St. Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut, Lebanon. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, read the Holy Father’s message at the celebration.

“I conserve in my heart the memory of my encounter with him, accompanied by the bishops of the Synod and the faithful of this Patriarchal Church, on the occasion of the commemoration of the victims of the Metz Yegern and the proclamation of St. Gregory of Narek as as Doctor of the universal Church,” the Pope stated.

“It was as if these events lived in the vicinity of the relics of the apostle St. Peter had marked the long and faithful journey of your 'Caput et Pater', revealing some of his most characteristic aspects.”

The Pope recalled Patriarch Nerses’ zeal for the Church, noting his promotion of the continuing formation of the clergy and his tireless  ministry to the Armenian people.

“Patriarch Nerses was finally able to rejoice with the Armenian people at the elevation of St. Gregory of Narek to the luminous title of Doctor of the Church,” he wrote.

“His Beatitude wished the spiritual influence of this great saint be an example for pastors and faithful, convinced that through St. Gregory of Narek everyone can experience the wonders that the Lord is able to achieve in the heart that opens up to Him in daily simplicity and humility, and in solidarity with the drama of humanity, through ceaseless intercession.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit continue to renew the Armenian Catholic Church through the commitment of their pastors and faithful.

“We also entrust to the Father of all Mercy the labours , linked to the the limits and weaknesses of the condition of the pilgrims on their way to the eternal homeland,” he wrote.