President honours Georgian victim of Norman Atlantic ferry disaster

Priest Ilia Kartozia was identified by the Georgian lady from his flock., 19 Jan 2015 - 12:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

The President of Georgia has awarded late Archimandrite Ilia Kartozia a posthumous award for his "exemplary civil devotion, heroism and extraordinary personal bravery" after he died while trying to save others in a ferry tragedy in the Adriatic Sea last year.

The body of the Georgian priest, who drowned while helping other passengers on board the burning Italian ferry Norman Atlantic on December 29 2014, was returned to Tbilisi on January 18, 2015.

The priest’s body is currently lying in state at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Today Kartozia’s body will be transferred to Mtskheta to the David Agmashenebeli temple. He will be buried on January 20, 12pm in the Church’s yard.

Kartozia’s relatives paid respect to their loved one at the Holy Trinity Cathedral today.

Similarly, Georgia’s Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri attended today’s liturgy and offered his condolences to the priests' relatives.

Meanwhile witnesses said the Georgian religious figurehead died during the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster after he let a woman and her child take his place on a rescue boat.

Priest Kartozia left for Italy to make a pilgrimage to the Church of Saint Nicolas in the Italian city of Bari with eight other Georgians, reported Georgian Public Broadcaster.

In total nine Georgian citizens were on board the burning ship, including one pregnant woman and one child.

The Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic caught on fire and began to list in the early hours of December 29, 2014. 

The ferry company operating the journey from the Greek city of Patras to Ancona in Italy said 478 people were on board the ship when it departed Greece.

It is not clear what caused the tragedy, which killed at least 11 people.