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Georgian leaders congratulate Patriarch Ilia II on his jubilee

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, January 5
Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II turned 84 years old yesterday. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili wished happy birthday to the Patriarch in his statement.

The PM underlined that the Patriarch’s entire career and life has been dedicated to the service of the nation and homeland.

“He has always been an example of humility, generosity, patience, tolerance and love. I wish him a long life and health," Kvirikashvili’s statement reads.

The President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, sent a letter of congratulation to Ilia II.

“Our nation is lucky to have such a wise spiritual leader in this very difficult and dramatic period. Your tireless efforts are a benchmark of inner perfection for your parish and all people of good will. I wish health and courage to you," the President’s letter of congratulation reads.

Moreover, Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, also congratulated the Patriarch with his jubilee.

Kobakhidze underlined that restoration of autocephaly of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox church was the achievement of Ilia II.

“On behalf of Parliament and myself, I would like to wish health and longevity to you for serving God and your nation,” the Speaker stated.

Ilia II was elected the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia on December 25, 1977. One of his most significant achievements was the initiative to increase Georgia's declining birth rate.

In the late 2007, concerned with Georgia's declining birth rate, Ilia II offered to personally baptize any child born to a family that already has at least two children, as long as the new child was to be born after his announcement. He conducts mass baptism ceremonies four times a year. The patriarch's initiative spurred a national baby boom, because being baptized by the Patriarch is a considerable honor among adherents of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Ilia II has around 20,000 godchildren at present.

At present, the Patriarch's birthday events have been temporarily postponed due to his poor health condition.

Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Patriarchate of Georgia, Archpriest Kakhaber Gogotishvili says that Ilia II is better, however, he needs a lot of rest.

“The concert and other festive events will presumably be held in spring," said Archpriest Kakhaber Gogotishvili.