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The visit of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, His Holiness, Ilia II to the United States of America.

Ilia II, Catholicos and Patriarch of all Georgia

The Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, His Holiness, Ilia II, visited United States in May 14-26, 1998. On May 23, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from St.Tikhon's Seminary and presided over the Memorial Day on Monday, May 25.

Welcome Georgian Orthodox Patriarch:

His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, received official notification from the Orthodox Church in Georgia, that His Holiness, ILIA II, Catholicos and Patriarch of the All Georgia, has accepted his invitation to visit the United States, and arrived here May 14. Patriarch ILIA was the official guest of Metropolitan THEODOSIUS.
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At the beginning of Patriarch ILIA's visited to America, he met with the Supreme Catholicos of all Armenians, His Holiness, KAREKIN, who was also making an archpastoral visit to the Armenian Church in U.S. during the month of May. The two heads of Churches have already exchanged official visits to Georgia and Armenia.On May 15 they were the guests of honor at a luncheon hosted by His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS.
During his visit to America, Patriarch ILIA met with Orthodox Church leaders and government officials in Washington, at the U.S. State Department, Library of Congress and Georgian Embassy. In New York he was join the Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko and the entire faculty on May 16 for commencement exercises. He was also received by His Eminence, Archbishop SPYRIDON at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and by the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ. Patriarch ILIA is well acquainted with the challenges of ecumenical relations, having served in the past as President of the World Council of Churches. While in New York he gave a speach at Georgian Independence Day observances at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University on May 19.
At the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSUS, Patiarch ILIA II was presided at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St Nicholas Cathedral in Washington on May 17. His Eminence, Archbishop HERMAN welcomed the Catholicos to St Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary on May 23.
"This will be a working visit," according to Fr. Gregory Havrilak, OCA Director of Communications. "Through our office the Catholicos has already made arrangements to meet with the Committee on Human Rights at the State Department in Washington, and with the Secretary General of the United Nations." The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, which convened at St Tikhon's Monastery, has invited the Georgian Primate to participate in their discussions.
Accompanying the Catholicos on this official visit were His Eminence, Metropolitan CALISTRATE (Margalitashvili) of Kutaisi and Gaenati, Rector of the Gelati Theological Academy, His Eminence, Archbishop DANIEL (Datuashvili) of Tskhum-Abkhaseti, Chairman of the Department for Mission and Evangelization, Arch priest George Zviadadze, Deputy Rector of Tbilisi Theological Academy, Protodeacon David Davitashvili, and Mr. Ilia Vacheishvili, Interpreter.
Patriarch ILIA visited North America in 1986 as a guest of the Orthodox Church in America. During that visit he was awarded an honorary doctorate by St Vladimir's Seminary. His degree citation reads : “Dedicated to the spiritual revival of the Georgian people, he presided over the consecration of many bishops, expanded the program of theological education, initiated publications, and gained the respect and admiration of many."

His Holiness, llia II (Irakli Shiolashvili), was born in 1933. In 1956, young Heraclius (Irakli) entered the Moscow Theological Seminary and Academy where, on April 16,1957, he was tonsured a monk with the name llia. On May 10,1957, he was ordained a Priestmonk by the late Patriarch Alexis of Moscow and All Russia. On August 25,1963, Father Ilia was consecrated as Bishop of Shemokmedi and Vicar to the Georgian Patriarch Ephrem II. From 1963 to 1972, Bishop llia was rector of the Georgian Orthodox Theological Seminary and from 1967, Bishop of the Diocese of Sukhumi and Abkhazia. During this period, Bishop llia made many trips abroad on behalf of the Georgian Church. On December 23, 1977 upon the death of the Catholicos-Patriarch David V, Metropolitan Ilia was elected the new primate of Georgian Orthodox Church. On December 25, he was formally enthroned as Catholicos-Patriarch in the ancient Cathedral of the Dormtion of the Mother of God in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. During his tenure as Primate, the Catholicos-Patriarch has been known a particularly energetic churchman. The number of functioning churches in Georgia has more than doubled, a number of monasteries have been repaired and opened, the number of seminarians has also doubled, additional bishops have been consecrated, and the Georgian Church, in general, has been experiencing a revival, especially characterized by an influx of youth into the churches.

Georgia - is located in the Caucasus region (East Europe) of the former Soviet Union. Wedged between Russia and Caucasus Mounains in the north, Azerbaijan in the east, Black See in the west and Turkey and Armenia in the south. The Georgian Orthodox Church was founded in the 4th century by Saint Nina (Nino), Equal-to-the Apostles. Georgian Church recived autocephaly in VI century. In 1801, with the expansion of the Russian Empire into the region, the Georgian Church was incorporated into the larger Russian Orthodox Church and lost independence. Georgians never gave up their fight for independence. Georgia regained its sovereignty in 1918 and was an independent democracy until 1921. After 70 years of communist suppression, Georgia once again (one of the first) reclaimed its independence in 1991.

Georgia - one of the most ancient countries in the world, is situated at the cross-roads of Europe and Asia. It occupies 69.700 sq. km between the Black and Caspian Seas (about the size of Ireland), with a population of 5.5 million people. Religion - Eastern Orthodox Christian. Population growth rate - 0.4%; Life expectancy - 68 (m) and 76 (f); Currency - Lari; Member of CIS, EBRD, ECE. Georgia has been wracked by ethnic fighting since the breackup of the Soviet Union. They are a proud people with a 5,000-year tradition and deep devotion to the folk arts. Georgia has many historic cities including the capital, Tbilisi, and several large and vital ports on the Black Sea. Because of its cosmopolitan flair, many consider Tbilisi to be the Paris (or "Second Paris") of the Caucasus.

The State language, Georgian, is over 2000 years old and has its own alphabet - one of only fourteen (14) in the world. In addition to Georgian, most Georgians speak Russian and increasing numbers speak English, French and German. The population is highly educated with a 99 percent literacy rate (Adult literacy rate) and the highest percentage of college graduates in the former Soviet Union. Georgia's economy was one ofthe best in the Soviet Union. The country is known for its rich agricultural land, superb wine industry, and variety of terrain and climates from tropical sea coast to 19,000 ft. mountains. Natural resources include water, minerals, semi-precious stones and oil. Established agricultural products include tea, grapes, tobacco and vegetables. The country is well-suited for tourism, agricultural, metallurgical and technological industries. Extremely low labor costs (low than in the China), favorable foreign investment laws, a reformist government (president - Eduard Shevardnadze), and political and macroeconomical stability combined with a comfortable climate, make Georgia an ideal place to establish a base in this part of the world.

If you need more information about Republic of Georgia, please, visit Georgian Web Page at:

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