Georgia on Monday (4 January) marked the 88th birthday of the Catholicos Patriarch Ilya II.
State leaders, politicians and parisheners extended their best wishes to the Patriarch. Ilya II has been Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia since 1977, guiding the church in the difficult period leading up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the time immediately after when Georgia passed through huge political, economic and social turmoil.
Ilya II is considered the most important unifying figure in Georgian society, and commands great respect throughout the country. Despite the fact that the Church in recent years has been embroiled in a number of scandals respect for the patriarch has remained very high.
The patriarch has been in frail health for some time, and no traditional service dedicated to his birthday was conducted today. Ilia II has been in isolation for several weeks as a precautionary measure against contracting the coronavirus. In recent years there has been speculation about the succession, with some suggesting splits within the Church. But for the moment, Ilya II continues to hold the Church together, and to attract the respect of many even non practitioners.
photo: Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilya II (archive picture)