- Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church
Infobox Orthodox Church
| show_name = Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church
caption = "Ascension of the Cross," 5th century Bas-relief from the Jvari Monastery, Mtskheta, Georgia
Apostle Andrew, Saint Nino
independence = 4th century AD
recognition = Orthodox
territory= most of Georgia,
Mount Athos, Crete
website= [http://www.patriarchate.ge/] The Georgian Orthodox Church (full title Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church, or in the
Georgian language: საქართველოს სამოციქულო მართლმადიდებელი ავტოკეფალური ეკლესია "Sakartvelos Samocikulo Martlmadidebeli Avtok'epaluri Ek'lesia") is one of the world's most ancient Christian Churches, and tradition traces its origins to the mission of Apostle Andrew in the 1st century. It is an autocephalous (self-headed) part of the Eastern Orthodox Churchsince 4th century A.D. Georgian Orthodoxy has been a state religionin parts of Georgia since the 4th century, and is the majority religion in that country.
The Constitution of Georgia recognizes the special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the country's history but also stipulates the independence of the church from the state. The relations between the State and the Church are regulated by the Constitutional Agreement of 2002.
Christianity in ancient and feudal Georgia
According to tradition, when the Apostles were sent out to preach the
Gospelto the nations of the world, the Apostle Andrew the First-called went to preach in the districts of the Caucasuscorresponding to modern Georgia (ancient Colchisand Iberia), taking with him the Holy Mother's Uncreated Icon (an iconof the Virgin Mary that tradition holds was not made by human hands). Another tradition says that the Apostle Simon the Canaanite (better known in the West as Simon the Zealot) also travelled to the Caucasus, and Georgian tradition holds that he preached in Western Georgia and was buried near Sokhumi, in the village of Anakopia. Another Apostle, Saint Matthias, is said to have preached in the southwest of Georgia, and to have been buried in Gonio, a village not far from Batumi. Some Christian sources also attest to the presence in Georgia of the Apostles Bartholomewand Thaddeus who came north from Armenia.
The first Georgian
Eparchywas founded in Atskuri(south-west Georgia), traditionally by the Apostle Andrew.
The oldest Georgian church was constructed in the beginning of the 3rd century, in the village
Nastakisi( Kartliprovince of Eastern Georgia).
Georgian Christianity was historically influenced by the church of the
Between the 6th and 9th centuries, Georgia underwent a cultural transformation as
Well-known centers of Christian culture included the
Outstanding Georgian representatives of Christian culture included
The invasions of Genghis Khan in the 13th century and Tamerlane in the 14-15th century greatly disrupted Georgian Christianity. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, both church and state were divided into eastern and western parts, and accordingly the two parts of the Church were ruled by two Catholicos-Patriarchs. In 1801 the Kingdom of
The Georgian Orthodox Church in modern times
Following the overthrow of the Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, Georgia's bishops unilaterally restored the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church on
A special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the history of the country is recognized according to Article 9 of the
About 82% of Georgia's population identified themselves as Georgian Orthodox in 2002 (the remainder being Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Other). In 2002, it was reported that there were 35 dioceses and about 600 churches within the Georgian Orthodox Church, served by 730 priests. The Georgian Orthodox Church has around 5 million members around the world (of whom about 3,670,000 live within Georgia) and administers, as of 2007, 35 eparchies (dioceses).
Catholicos-Patriarchs of Georgia since 1917
The Georgian Orthodox Church is managed by the
* Kirion II (1917-1918)
* Leonide (1918-1921)
* Kristefore III (1927-1932)
* Kalistrate (1932-1952)
* Melkisedek III (1952-1960)
* Efrem II (1960-1972)
* Davit V (1972-1977)
* History of Georgia
* [http://www.patriarchate.ge/ Official Web Site of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church]
* [http://www.orthodoxy.ge/ Georgian-language Web Site regarding Georgian Orthodoxy]
* [http://www.geo.orthodoxy.ru/ Russian-language Web Site regarding Georgian Orthodoxy]
* [http://www.britanica.com/eb/article?eu=37230 Georgian Orthodox Church - Encyclopedia Britanica]
* Metropolitan Anania (Japaridze). "Christianity in Georgia".- in "It is Georgia" (collection of articles), Tbilisi, 2003, pp. 115-126 (in Georgian)
* [http://www.pravoslavie.ru/enarticles/070306192614 Lives of the Georgian Saints, Russian Orthodox Portal]
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