Authorities attend first liturgy at Iveria Holy Virgin Mary Church

People from 38 eparchies of Georgia has arrived to participate in the first service., 13 May 2014 - 14:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Catholicos Patriarch His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II delivered the first service at Iveria Holy Virgin Mary Church in front of hundreds of worshipers at Makhata hill in Tbilisi. 

Despite the church still undergoing major construction, people from 38 eparchies of Georgia gathered at the site to participate in the first service.

The service was held during the Holy Virgin Mary’s Week – an important week in the religious calendar - which will also include the 5thSymposium of Religious and Science, held in Tbilisi from 12-16 May.

This week's events have been dedicated to the worship of the Virgin Mary, who was chosen to preach Christianity in Georgia.

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, and Parliament Speaker, David Usupashvili, represented the Government at this morning’s gathering. The pair highlighted Georgia’s stance on the path of Christianity.

"It is a great honor for me to participate in this symposium that is dedicated to the worship of the Virgin Mary. The tradition of worshiping the Virgin Mary is very firm in Georgia and it is symbolic that this kind of scientific symposium has been held in Georgia,” Garibashvili said.

He believed love, peaceful coexistence, tolerance, virtue and empathy were the main values of Georgia and its people.

"The commitment to these values ​​has made Georgia a part of European civilization and culture.”

Parliament Speaker Usupashvili believed the Georgian country and the church lacked civilized cooperation with each other.

"I believe, despite centuries of tradition, the Georgian country and the Orthodox Church both lack one thing – the experience of civilized cooperation. This was caused by foreign factors,” Usupashvili said.

"The stereotype that the West is the enemy of Orthodoxy while Communism and Imperialism are the savers of Orthodox must be revised and destroyed.”

Construction continuing at Iveria Holy Virgin Mary Church

The wonder-working and chrism overflowing icon of the Virgin Mary was brought from the United States by clerics on May 6 and was placed at the new church for one day to mark today’s special occasion.

During this morning’s service the Patriarch thanked God for choosing Georgia as the blessed country, allocated to the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.

The service was also attended by Government officials, including former and current Prime Ministers of Georgia together with their wives, Ministers and politicians.

Paata Burtchuladze, a famous Georgian operatic bass vocalist and founder of a charity fund to help fund construction of the church, took part in the ceremony. He called believers to come and pray.

Burchuladze established the Iveriisa foundation on July 27, 2010 with the sole aim of funding construction of the Iveria Holy Virgin Mary Church.

Since it established four years ago, the fund set a goal to build the church using joint efforts of Georgian citizens.

The temple is currently being built by the local population and Georgian emigrates. To date, 204,000 people are involved in the public project.

A book titled A Book of The Dead and Living has been created to record the names of all the Georgians who will help build the temple.

The participants of the St Iveria Virgin Mary project can also see their names on the foundation’s webpage;

If you would like to make a donation to the project, phone: 0901 77 77 77 and speak to the phone operator (donations start at 1 GEL a month).