February 25, 2016

Contributions by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation to Christian culture in the Italian and Vatican mass media

Leading mass media of Italy and Vatican have widely covered the meetings held by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva within the framework of her visit to Vatican, discussions held towards extending cooperation with the Holy See, and inauguration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs restored following the Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s initiative.    


In an article on Vatican Radio’s website, the interview given by Mehriban Aliyeva to Vatican Radio is placed. In the response to the question “Why the Foundation in Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, has financed the works associated with restoration of a Christian heritage”, Mehriban Aliyeva said: “Azerbaijan is a country located at the crossroads of the Europe and Asia, the West and the East. This geographical location has had its impact on the rich diversity dominating in our country. There have always been friendship and brotherhood relations between the peoples living in Azerbaijan. The existence of numerous confessions is our big wealth. And restoration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs is part of the joint project of the Holy See and Azerbaijan. Our Foundation will always be ready to continue this joint business in future too.”


In an article placed on the website of the newspaper “Avvenire”, information is given about the history of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs, and it is emphasized that they are among the significant treasures of the Christian world. It was noted that restoration of these catacombs was made possible in accordance with a bilateral agreement signed between the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Holy See in 2012. On February 23 of this year, inauguration of the catacombs after restoration took place. Attending the ceremony, Mehriban Aliyeva underscored the significance of dialogue between religions. President of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture Gianfranco Ravasi said this is first time in the history that a Muslim country makes contribution to restoration of Christian monuments.  


Information has been placed also on Vatican’s website “News.va” - with wide-scale readers - about the inauguration. Special emphasis is put, in the information,  on the fact that the restoration works on the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs – restored with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation - have been carried out in an extremely delicate manner, using state-of-the-art technology.  It is noted in the article that cooperation between the Foundation and the Pontifical Council will continue further. Next project is associated with restoration of saint Sebastian tombs. A bilateral agreements was signed on restoration of these tombs, in the framework of Mehriban Aliyeva’s visit to Vatican. 


In another article placed on the information portal “Roma sette” is emphasized that Christian monuments were revived by contribution made from a Muslim country. It is noted that the Heydar Aliyev Foundation of Azerbaijan, a country with majority of population having Muslim faith, was the only organization to react positively to the call of Cardinal Ravasi in connection with restoration of the  Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs. Cardinal Ravasi said this valuable gesture by Mehriban Aliyeva is highly appreciated. 


In an article placed on the website of “ACI Stampa”, a press company known as a Catholic news agency, it is talked about the strong partnership relations between the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, and implementation of joint projects. It is mentioned in the article that the Roman catacombs, with their significance for the mankind, have been revived thanks to the support provided by the Foundation and will be maintained for future generations. In an article with comprehensive information about the restoration works, references were made to Mehriban Aliyeva’s saying: “Our greatest value is the peaceful coexistence of different religions in our country”.


An extensive article has been placed also on the website of Italy’s “La Republica” newspaper about this historical event. It is emphasized that restoration of the  Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs, valuable treasures of the Christian world, by Azerbaijan, a country with Muslim faith, is much appreciated. In the article, there is also information about the presentation of the catacombs with participation of Mehriban Aliyeva at Massimo Palace. 


“L’Osservatore Romano”, one of the most influential newspapers of Vatican, where religious news are placed, a special article by Cardinal Ravasi was given. In the article, issues associated with the restoration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been widely covered. In this article, where this project is called a landmark in restoration of Christian catacombs, it’s brought to attention that after the restoration carried out by delicate handicrafts, the catacombs will be the place most visited by tourists coming to Rome in the framework of Beneficence jubilee.