Patriarch Celebrates 42 Years in Power

The Georgian Orthodox Church marked the 42nd anniversary of the enthronement of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II on Wednesday.

Patriarch Ilia II has officially been the spiritual head of the Georgian Orthodox Church for 42 years, elected on December 23, 1977, when he was 44 years old.

A church service was held at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta to mark the special occasion.

Politicians including Bidzina Ivanishvili, Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister of Georgia and Archil Talakvadze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia attended the liturgy.

“Congratulations to our beloved Patriarch on the 42nd anniversary of his enthronement,” Bidzina Ivanishvili said. “You know how difficult these 42 years were, how difficult our country was [to live in] a few years ago. Our country has endured many challenges and trials over these 42 years. The contribution of our Mother Church and His Holiness, the Patriarch, is greatest. The Church and His Holiness have very often been the largest pillars and examples. You know today that our daily or spiritual life is difficult and needs to be handled in a very well organized and thoughtful manner. Both the State and the Church perform their functions in a very thoughtful and orderly way so that we can overcome all challenges and lead our country to victory. Our country is happy to have such a spiritual father. We wish our beloved Patriarch health and long life.”

“It is impossible for us to evaluate [the Patriarch’s] merits to the country, it is impossible to evaluate his merits in building churches, it is impossible to evaluate his merits in the educational field, and most importantly, it is impossible to evaluate his merits in maintaining peace in the country,” the Prime Minister said.

“The Patriarch is our shepherd and of course, on behalf of the Government of Georgia, I congratulate him on this great holiday, I congratulate the whole Georgia, the orthodox world on this day, and I wish him health and the ability to serve our country for many, many more years.”

The Patriarch in turn thanked his supporters.

“Today is a truly historic day. It is a great mercy from God on us. I am grateful to God and our nation for giving me the opportunity to do this job. Our nation has been gifted with love from God and we must keep it close to our hearts. We should not respond with hate to love. I am grateful for your love. God bless you,” he said.

His Holiness will turn 87 in January.

Based on public polls, Patriarch Ilia II is the most trusted figure in Georgia.

By Ana Dumbadze and Nini Dakhundaridze

26 December 2019 19:09