11 April 2003, 12:45

Ilya the Second

Ilya (Elijah) the Second, Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia, archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi. Layman name: Irakly Georgievich Gudushauri-Shiolashvili.

Born January 4, 1933, in the city of Ordjonikidze (now Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia) in a family of Georgian immigrants. In 1952, upon finishing high school, entered Moscow Clerical Seminary, then continued his studies in Moscow Clerical Academy. In 1959, took the vows. In 1960, upon graduation from the Academy, he was asked to continue his scientific activities, but due to the lack of clergy, hieromonk Irakly returned to his homeland and was appointed to serve in the Batumi Cathedral. For the faithful service, in 1961 was ranked as hegumen, later as archimandrite; on August 26, 1963, the Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia Ephraim the Second imposed him to be a bishop and appointed the Bishop of Shemokmedi, as well as Patriarch's choir bishop (vicar).

Simultaneously, bishop Ilya was the rector of Mtskheta Cleric Seminary, at that time the only clerical school in Georgia, from 1963 to 1972. In 1967, bishop Ilya was transferred to Abkhazian eparchy. In 1969, was ranked metropolitan. On November 9, 1977, upon the decease of Catholicos Patriarch David the Fifth, according to the Holy Synod's decree, was appointed Patriarchy Guardian; on December 23, 1977, was elected the Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia. On December 25, 1977, took his enthronement under the name of Ilya the Second.

In 1978-1983, the Catholicos Patriarch Ilya the Second was the president of the World Church Council. He is awarded with highest awards of Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Russia, Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and virtually all orthodox Churches of the world. New York Clerical Academy has entitled Catholicos Patriarch Ilya the Second an honorary degree of Doctor of Theology.

For the years that Ilya the Second heads the Georgian Orthodox Church, a lot has been done for development of spiritual and religious life in Georgia. New clerical schools have been opened in different areas of the country: clerical seminaries in Batumi, Akhaltsikh, and Kutaisi, a clerical college and gimnasia in Khulo, gimnasias in Tbilisi, Batumi, and Zestafoni. After many centuries, Gelat clerical academy and Gelat Academy of Sciences under the auspices of the Church were restored.

At Ilya the Second's blessing, a Bible in modern Georgian language has been published, as well as theological collections, newspapers, brochures and books, magazines, and three kinds of calendars. At this initiative, were created Center of Patriarchy, Departments of Missionary Work and Evangelization, Publishing, Sacrament Search and Preservation, Relations with the Military and Law Enforcement, Finance and Economy, and External Politics, Information Services, Humanitarian Services, Pilgrimage Services, and Dzlevai Youth Center.

Over the last years, the number of Georgian Orthodox Church's eparchies has increased from 15 to 27, and the number of functioning monasteries and convents has increased to 53. Several new saints have been canonized. A construction of the country's largest church - St. Trinity Cathedral - was started to commemorate the 2000th Christmas and 1500th anniversary of Autocephaly.

This is only a small part of what has been done at His Holiness and Beatitude Ilya the Second's blessing. Besides, Catholicos Patriarch Ilya the Second is an undoubted spiritual leader of the Georgian people, and his opinion on key issues of the social life is taken into consideration by both common people and political elite representatives.

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