Catholics Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II turned 88 today. He has been leading the spiritual life of the Orthodox Georgian parish for 43 years now.
No traditional service dedicated to the event was conducted today. Ilia II has been in isolation for several weeks as a cautionary measure against contracting the coronavirus.
Ilia II was born Irakli Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili in Vladikavkaz (then Ordzhonikidze), currently North Ossetia [Russian Federation] in 1933.
In 1967 he was appointed bishop of Tskhumi and Abkhazeti in the western, currently occupied region, and elevated to the rank of metropolitan in 1969.
Ilia II became the Georgian patriarch back in 1977.
After the death of Patriarch David V, he was elected the new Catholics-Patriarch of Georgia on December 25, 1977.
In the new position Ilia II has initiated a range of reforms, enabling the Georgian Orthodox Church to largely regain its former influence and prestige by the late 1980s.
From 1978 to 1983, Ilia II was Co-President of the World Council of Churches (WCC), an ecumenical organisation the Georgian Orthodox Church had joined with other Soviet churches in 1962.
In May 1997, the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church announced its withdrawal from the WCC.