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Iavnana celebrates 80th anniversary of Georgian Patriarch

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, January 8
Georgian Patriarch Ilia II turned 80 years old on June 4th. The Iavnana Foundation provided an opportunity for Georgian opera singers performing inside and outside the country to dedicate their songs to His Holiness at the State Concert Hall.

The concert opened with Mravalzhamieri and the hall greeted the patriarch with great applause.

Iavnana’s concert was aired on Rustavi 2 so that anyone could follow the live events from the concert hall, as well as send text messages to congratulate the patriarch. People gathered in Sno- the native village of the Georgian Patriarch where his friends recollected their childhood. People gathered in front of Trinity Cathedral with children in their arms; and poet Lia Sturua emphasized the importance of Ilia II for Georgia from Makhata hill – the place where the construction of Virgin Mary Church is under the way.

Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili congratulated the patriarch with on the special anniversary saying that Ilia II “filled the spiritual emptiness” of Georgians after the era of “violent” atheism of the post-Soviet Union. Emphasizing the merit of His Holiness towards the Georgian nation, Usupashvili said Ilia II has managed to “wake up civil consciousness” among Georgian citizens and strengthen Georgia's statehood.

Calling Ilia II the first and most important citizen, Usupashvili wished him long life. “…And we should do whatever you have teaching us for so many years,” the Parliamentary Chairman said, confident that the dream of Ilia II will also come true and he can see how Georgia is filled with love inside and outside the church.

Chairman of the Trans-Caucasian Muslims Council, Allahshukur Hummat Pashazade who arrived to Tbilisi for this special date congratulated His Holiness on behalf of Azerbaijan President Ilhalm Alyev and awarded his “elder brother” with the Council’s highest order for his merit in developing the dialogue between the nations and cultural relations in the world.

He said Ilia II is not the spiritual leader of only Orthodox Christians, but also for Muslims. “Everyone is congratulating the Patriarch despite the religious differences throughout the Caucasus,” he said.

Zurab Sotkilava, Makvala Kasrashvili, Iano Alibegashvili, Badri Maisuradze, Stela Grigoryan, Lado Ataneli and other opera musicians arrived to Georgia especially for this date. Liana Isakadze performed the orchestra version of Ave Maria originally written by His Holiness. “I am happy to have an opportunity to wish long life to His Holiness,” Lado Atoneli told The Messenger.

President of Iavnana Foundation, Paata Burchuladze, Iano Alibegashvili, Nato Netonidze and the youth choir Mdzlevari also performed Ilia II’s Ave Maria with the Tbilisi Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Nikoloz Rachveli.

Poet Maka Bliadze attended the concert and also sent a text message on behalf of those people who could not use their opportunity to congratulate His Holiness. “It is happiness to live in an era with a Patriarch who is a hope for everybody,” Bliadze told The Messenger.

Actor Kakhi Kavsadze said if everyone lives as the Patriarch teaches “we can survive.”

Ilia II blessed the whole country. “I am sure the time when we will celebrate the unity of Georgia will come soon,” he said on his birthday.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili attended the celebration with his wife and cabinet members. Although he was not present, President Mikheil Saakashvili expressed his respect to Ilia II on his Facebook page and wished him health and long life, emphasizing the “personal merit” of His Holiness in building an independent and democratic country.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi is honored to congratulate His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II on his 80th birthday and on the 35th anniversary of his election. Patriarch Ilia II has worked to unite people of different beliefs through a shared faith in humanity and peace.

For the past 20 years, the United States and the Georgian Orthodox Church have worked together to promote peace, advance development and alleviate poverty. We reflect on Georgia's progress, and recommit ourselves to the work that remains.

On this landmark occasion, we wish Patriarch Ilia II good health and many years of continued service to the Georgian people.