The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II is today celebrating his 90th birthday.
Government officials, representatives of various sectors of society and leaders of foreign Churches sent their congratulations to the Patriarch. Among those who visited the Patriarch to offer their congratulations was the prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili.
Ilia II remains one of the most influential personalities in Georgia despite his old age and frail health. He leads an Orthodox Church that has revived considerably after the collapse of communism, but which is divided, and according to some, riddled with scandal. Senior clergymen within the Church juggle to position themselves for the day when the Patriarch passes away. It will be a historic and landmark moment not only for the Church but for the whole of Georgia.
Ilia II was born the son of Irakli Giorgi Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili on January 4, 1933. He was ordained as a monk in 1957 and was named Ilia; On April 18, 1957, he was ordained as a archdeacon in the Patriarchal Church of Zion; On May 10, 1959, he became a priest in the Church of the Saint Sergius Monastery; On December 19, 1960, he was elevated to the rank of Abbot, and on September 16, 1961, to the rank of Archimandrite; On August 26, 1963, he was appointed as the Auxiliary bishop of the Catholicos-Patriarch; In 1963-1972 he was the first rector of Mtskheti Theological Seminary; In 1967, he was transferred to the Diocese of Abkhazia; In 1969, he was raised to the rank of metropolitan; On December 23, 1977, he was elected as the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.