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Patriarchs of Orthodox churches congratulate Ilia II on anniversary

By Messenger staff
Monday, January 14
On Sunday morning, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople delivered a joint sermon at the Trinity Cathedral. Ilia II wished peace and love to Georgia and the entire world.

Expressing his respect to his “Georgian brother” the world Patriarch explained that the whole Orthodox Church is sharing the special anniversary with Patriarch Ilia II.

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople visited Georgia specially to congratulate Ilia II on his 80th birthday and on his 35 year anniversary of his enthronization.

Hosting the special guests at his presidential residence on January 10, President Mikheil Saakashvili emphasized the importance of Patriarch Bartholomew I, not only as a spiritual leader and important public figure, but also his importance in the unification of Christianity and contributing to the dialogue between religions.

"Both celebrations are very nice occasions for all of us to be here in Georgia,” the world Patriarch said, wishing the Georgian Patriarch many years of life and service and blessed the Georgian people.

Ilia II said the world Patriarch is the greatest guest for Georgia and thanked President and government for special events dedicated to his anniversary.

Meeting with the Patriarch Bartholomew I at the State Chancellery the next day, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili emphasized the importance of Ilia II for developing the Georgian nation. “The whole nation celebrates his anniversary with great love,” Ivanishvili said.

Expressing his gratitude towards the special occasion, the Georgian Patriarch said he had been only following God during these years.

The representative of the Russian Patriarchate delivered a letter of congratulations from the Russian Patriarch Kirill, where he emphasized the “wisdom and spiritual gift” of Ilia II.

Congratulating the Georgian Patriarch on special anniversaries with a message released on his official webpage on January 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ilia II’s leadership of the Georgian Orthodox Church is “exemplary” and his contribution to the strengthening of Orthodoxy in Georgia was “invaluable.”

“We highly appreciate your warm relations with Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. Your personal efforts, your calls for peace, love, creativity, accord and unity have largely contributed to maintaining multi-century ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our people during a difficult stage of history,” Putin wrote, confident that “fruitful spiritual, cultural and humanitarian dialogue will become a reliable foundation for further development of relations between Russia and Georgia.

Various public and religious figures congratulated Ilia II on the special anniversaries on January 10-14. A delegation of spiritual leaders from Serbia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Russia and the Czech Republic attended the festive events dedicated to His Holiness and visited Davit Gareji, Shio Mghvime and Bodbe monasteries.