Plans for Pope Francis to visit Armenia in June are under consideration, according to the Vatican. 

His spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, told reporters a visit is "under examination, probably for the second half of June". But he stressed that dates and a detailed itinerary have yet to be finalised.

Armenia is home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world and the Pope has controversially supported the country's efforts to have the mass killings suffered by ethnic Armenians under the Ottoman Empire recognised internationally as genocide.

His call to revisit the World War One killings has caused a chill in the Holy See's relations with the Turkish Republic which was hewn out of the Empire soon after the war.

The Pope has already visited Turkey as Pope and would be the second pope to visit Armenia since it became an independent state following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Pope John Paul II went there in 2001.

The trip will be the latest in a series of visits by the Argentinian pontiff to countries on Europe's periphery where Catholics are in a small minority. He has already travelled to Albania and Bosnia.

Armenia's Christians are mostly Orthodox - meaning they have no institutional bond with Rome. But in the year 301, long before the 11th century schism between the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches, the country became the first ever to adopt Christianity as a state religion.