Ilia II of Georgia bigraphy, stories - Patriarch of Georgia

Ilia II of Georgia : biography

January 4, 1933 -

Ilia II (also transliterated as Ilya or Elijah; ) (born January 4, 1933) is the current Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and the spiritual leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church. He is officially styled as Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, the Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi and Metropolitan bishop of Abkhazia and Bichvinta, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II.

Initiative to revive Georgia's declining birth rate

In the late 2007, concerned with Georgia's declining birth rate, Ilia II offered to personally baptize any child born to a family that already has at least two children, as long as the new child was to be born after his announcement. He conducts mass baptism ceremonies four times a year. According to the church official, the patriarch's initiative spurred a national baby boom, because being baptized by the Patriarch is a considerable honor among adherents of the Georgian Orthodox Church.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7964302.stm

Ilia II and Russia

During the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war, Ilia II appealed to the Russian political leadership and the church, expressing concerns that “the Orthodox Russians were bombing Orthodox Georgians," and dismissing the Russian accusations of Georgia’s “genocide” in South Ossetia as “pure lie”. He also made a pastoral visit, bringing food and aid, to the Russian-occupied central Georgian city of Gori and the surrounding villages which were at the verge of humanitarian catastrophe. He also helped retrieve bodies of deceased Georgian soldiers and civilians.. the International Herald Tribune. September 5, 2008. Civil Georgia. 2008-08-16 Ilia II also blessed the September 1, 2008 “Stop Russia” demonstrations in which tens of thousands organized human chains across Georgia.. Civil Georgia. 2008-09-01

In December 2008, Ilia II visited Moscow to pay a final farewell to Russia’s late Patriarch Alexy II. On December 9, 2008, he met Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, which was the first high-level official contact between the two countries since the August war.. Civil Georgia. 2008-09-01 Later, Ilia II announced that he had some “positive agreements” with Medvedev which needed “careful and diplomatic” follow-up by the politicians.. Civil Georgia. 2008-12-16

Biography

Ilia II was born as Irakli Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili () in Vladikavkaz, Russia's North Ossetia. He is a descendant of the influential eastern Georgian mountainous clan with family ties with the former royal dynasty of the Bagrationi.

He graduated from the Moscow clerical seminary and was ordained a hierodeacon in 1957 and hieromonk in 1959; he graduated from the Moscow clerical academy in 1960 and returned to Georgia, where he was assigned to the Batumi Cathedral Church as a priest. In 1961, he was promoted to hegumen and later to archimandrite. On August 26, 1963, he was chosen to be the bishop of Batumi and Shemokmedi and appointed a patriarchal vicar. From 1963 to 1972 he was also the first rector of the Mtskheta Theological Seminary - the only clerical school in Georgia at that time.

In 1967, he was consecrated as the bishop of Tskhumi and Abkhazeti and elevated to the rank of metropolitan in 1969. After the death of the controversial Patriarch David V, he was elected the new Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia on December 25, 1977.

The new patriarch began a course of reforms, enabling the Georgian Orthodox Church, once suppressed by the Soviet ideology, largely regain its former influence and prestige by the late 1980s. In 1988 there were 180 priests, 40 monks, and 15 nuns for the faithful, who were variously estimated as being from one to three million. There were 200 churches, one seminary, three convents, and four monasteries. During the last years of the Soviet Union, he was actively involved in Georgia's social life.

The patriarch joined the people demonstrating in Tbilisi against the Soviet rule on April 9, 1989, and fruitlessly urged the protesters to withdraw to the nearby Kashueti Church to avoid the bloodshed. This peaceful demonstration was dispersed by the Soviet troops, leaving behind 22 dead and hundreds injured. During the civil war in Georgia in the 1990s, he called the rival parties to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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