Georgian President wishes Orthodox Church Patriarch “many more years” on 90th birthday

President said she was congratulating the Patriarch on the date “with immense respect and love” and “in the name of each citizen of Georgia”.Photo: President’s press office, 04 Jan 2023 - 12:50, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili on Wednesday joined messages of congratulation to Ilia II, the Catholicos Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, on his 90th birthday by wishing him “many more years” at the helm of the religious organisation.

In a social media post, Zourabichvili extended the message to the religious leader, joining messages on the date by other officials including Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

In the message, she said she was congratulating the Patriarch with the date “with immense respect and love” and “in the name of each citizen of Georgia”.

Ilia II was consecrated as the Bishop of Abkhazia - the now Russian-occupied north-western region of Georgia - and elevated to the rank of Metropolitan in 1969. After the death of Patriarch David V, he was elected the new Catholicos Patriarch on December 25, 1977. 

Between 1978-1983, he also served as Co-President of the World Council of Churches, which the Georgian Orthodox Church joined in 1962 but left in 1997.

His time at the helm of the Church has seen up to 2,000 churches and monasteries built across the country, with about 3,000 monks and nuns serving in regional sections of the organisation across Georgia.

Ilia II is consistently named the most trusted figure in the country in public polls, while the Patriarchate is ranked as the second most trusted institution after the armed forces.