A Session Dedicated to the Jubilee

On December 20, 2023, a jubilee session, dedicated to the 46th anniversary of the Enthronement of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi and Metropolitan of Bitchvinta and Tskhum-Apkhazeti, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, was held at Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary.
The session was opened by the Rector of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, Doctor of Philology, Theology and Political Sciences, Professor, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze. He spoke about the Patriarch’s special contribution to the Church and the country. Speeches were given by: Metropolitan of Manglisi and Tetritskaro, Doctor of History, Professor Anania Japaridze. The topic of his talk was The Merits of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Blessed Ilia II. His Eminence Anania spoke about the greatest contribution of the Patriarch to the determination of the historical boundaries of the Church. He noted that in the second half of the 19th century, especially in the 20th century, during the era of Communist rule, the view on the borders of the Georgian Church was deliberately changed and falsified. There was an opinion that Western Georgia was not included in the jurisdiction of the Church of Georgi in the 4th - 10th centuries. His Eminence said that at the session of the Holy Synod held on July 5, 2012, the Patriarch made a decision to take real, effective steps to present and popularize the true history of Georgia, and by doing so, His Holiness laid the foundation for the research of the latest Georgian historiography. Doctor of History and Theology, Professor Sergo Vardosanidze gave a talk on the topic – The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II and the challenges of the Orthodox Church of Georgia in 1977-1990. Mr. Sergo Vardosanidze noted – “46 years have passed since the Enthronement of His Holiness and today we have the opportunity to look once again at what challenges the young Patriarch faced after his enthronement as Patriarch on December 25, 1977 in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.” Then he focused on the aforementioned difficulties: “
1. The Church was in financial difficulty (the Patriarchate borrowed money from the state for the expenses of the banquet).
2. The majority of the clergy (70 people) were elderly people.
3. The number of functioning churches and chaples was 50.
4. In accordance with the 1945 Management-Board Regulations, only 7 dioceses out of fictitiously existing 15 had a governing hierarch, five of them were deans of different churches in Tbilisi.
5. The Church had no parish, no higher theological school, no publications.
6. The issue of the recognition of the autocephaly of the Church of Georgia not determined, neither was the diptych.
7. The heart of the Church of Georgia - Svetitskhoveli - had a status of a historical monument. It was forbidden to ordain hierarchs or consecrate myrrh there… The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia started to solve the mentioned problems step by step,” - added Mr. Sergo Vardosanidze and spoke in detail about the great works of the Patriarch.
Academician of Gelati Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Philology and Theology, Professor Edisher Chelidze spoke about the merits of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II in the study of ancient Georgian liturgical monuments. He noted - “One important direction of the ministry of the Catholicos- Patriarch of Georgia has always been a scientific study of ancient Georgian liturgical monuments and, their restoration in today’s service, as far as possible. It was with his blessing that in 2002 the ‘Book of Needs’ translated by Saint Giorgi the Athonite according to Sin.73 manuscript was published, which in 2006 was followed by the publication of the first fundamental volume of the ‘Book of Needs’ in Asomaturuli and Nushkhuri script. Later, in 2020-2022 the same ‘Book of Needs’ was published in three volums. Among the liturgical monuments, ‘Zhamistsirvebi’ or ‘Kontakion’ is of special value, whose source study is being carried out intensively in Tbilisi Theological Academy. The first and most important part of this work, namely, ‘The Liturgy of St. John the Chrysostom’, with its relevant scientific footnotes, has already been published in the third volume of the aforementioned ‘Book of Needs’. In addition, it is planned to publish the unique ‘Lectionary of Jerusalem’ or the earliest Church typicon of greatest value, he noted.
The following speakers congratulated the Patriarch on his anniversary and talked about his special merits, recalling stories of personal contacts with him: Academician of Gelati Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Philology and Theology, Professor, Archpriest Bidzina Gunia. Doctor of Philology and Theology, Professor, Archdeacon Demetre (Davitashvili), Doctor of Philology, Professor Gvantsa Koplatadze, Head of the Department of Georgian Language and Literature of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, Doctor of Philology, Professor Lela Khachidze, Doctor of Philology Professor Maya Rapava, Doctor of Philological Sciences, Professor Guram Benashvili, Master of Psychology and teacher Gvantsa Gugeshashvili.

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