On October 31, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and with the attendance of the President of Armenia, Mr. Serzh Sargsyan; the re-consecration service of the St. Gevorg Cathedral of Tbilisi, Georgia, was offered.
The restoration work of the St. Gevorg Cathedral, originally built in the 13th century, began in 2012, through the efforts of the Armenian Chruch Diocese of Georgia, and the “Initiatives for Armenia’s Development Foundation” (IDeA).
The Catholicos of All Armenians was met by the clergy of the Armenian Diocese of Georgia, led by His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan, Primate of the Diocese; benefactors of the Church and numerous pilgrims.
Then, under the singing of the “Hrashapar” hymn, His Holiness accompanied by the clergy procession entered the Church, where the re-consecration service began.
Under the singing of hymns and psalms, the holy altar, pillars, and baptismal font were washed with water and wine during the consecration service. Then under the singing of the hymn Hrashapar, the Holy Muron was processed to the Altar, which His Holiness consecrated.
His Eminence Archbishop Yezras Nersisyan, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Nor Nakhijevan and Russia; His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan; His Grace Bishop Arshak Khachatryan, Chancellor of the Mother See; His Grace Bishop Hovnan Hakobyan, Grand Sacristan of Mother See; and His Grace Bishop Vardan Navasardyan, Director of the Christian Education Center; consecrated the columns of the altar, the baptismal font and the outer walls of the altar.
At the conclusion of the consecration service, the Catholicos of All Armenians extended his message of blessing to the faithful.
“Through the prayers of our forefathers, we offer our thanks up to Almighty God, for granting us the grace to conduct the re-consecration service of the Saint Gevorg Cathedral of Tbilisi. As we celebrate this solemn service, we recall the history of the 800 year mission of the Saint Gevorg Cathedral, which is an eloquent testimony to the national and spiritual revival of the Armenians on this blessed land of Georgia, while symbolizing the centuries-old Armenian-Georgian friendship.
Saint George (Gevorg) is one of the most venerated saints, whose name is inseparably linked with the history of Christianity in Georgia and Armenia. Saint George is a fighter for justice, a Soldier of Christ, who sacrificed himself for the strengthening of Christian faith, and spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ. The author of Armenian hymns calls St. George “the brave fighter and commander” and “pride of humanity”. In iconography Saint George is depicted riding a horse, and slaying a dragon, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil, the victory of light over darkness, the victory of truth over lies. Church history teaches us that Christianity spread across the world and captured the hearts and minds of people due to invincible devoted men like the great warrior. Because of their special reverence and respect for Saint George, the Armenians and Georgians have formed cultural and spiritual values and named and continue to name their children in honor of Saint George. The love shown towards the warrior moved the Georgian people to declare Saint George as the patron saint of Georgia.”, stated His Holiness.
Referring to the close friendly relations between the Armenian and Georgian people, as well as to the preservation of Armenian churches on the Georgian ground, His Holiness added: “On the solemn occasion of the Re-Consecration of the Saint Gevorg Cathedral, we remember our great ancestors – Armenian religious and art workers, poets and writers – the Catholicos Nerses Ashtaraketsi, Naghash Hovnatanyan, Sayat-Nova, Makar Yekmalyan, Hovhannes Tumanyan, Raffi, Muratsan, Gabriel Sundukian, and many prominent Armenians, who had prayed, lived, and worked in the hospitable Georgian land.
The Armenians of Georgia didn’t differentiate Georgia from their own historical homeland, and worked for the benefit and progress of the state, suffering the difficulties and celebrating the achievements alongside the Georgian people, and if the occasion required, protected the borders of the country from enemies. This is how Georgia became home to many Armenians and the beloved land with many examples of Christian behavior, its traditional hospitality, its distinct flavor of life, and unique national culture and art.
We are pleased to see Armenians of Georgia thriving and dedicated to the building of spiritual life, putting forth their best efforts for a bright future for Georgia.
We believe that the re-consecrated Saint Gevorg Cathedral will invigorate the spiritual life of Armenians and strengthen the Armenian-Georgian friendship. Armenians and Georgians, as ancient Christian nations, unwaveringly believe in the sacred and saving mission of the Church of Christ. The Church is a Heavenly shelter on earth, where love, peace and harmony dwell, where troubled souls find rest from everyday concerns. God’s sweet calling resonates in the Church: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28). In the Church; national, racial, social and cultural discrimination is eliminated. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” – says the apostle (Galatians 3:28). In the Church we become one in Christ, are called upon to be spiritual brothers and sisters, to live a life imbued with Christ’s love, and to spread Christ’s light all over the world.
Beloved and pious faithful, the re-consecration of the Saint Gevorg Cathedral fixes our gaze on sanctuaries, churches, and monasteries built on this blessed land of Georgia, which starting with the period of atheism have been left without prayer and without care, and even today, unfortunately collapse and turn to ruins. Today’s service instills confidence in us, that with the support of the Georgian authorities and through the combined efforts of the Armenian Diocese of Georgia and pious faithful, our places of worship will be reconstructed and will gloriously shine”.
The Catholicos of All Armenians welcomed the presence of President Serzh Sargsyan to the sacred service, and wished him God’s support in the execution of his high mission.
His Holiness expressed his appreciation to Mr. Ruben Vardanian, devoted son of the Church, for the implementation of the renovation initiative of the St. Gevorg Cathedral, through the IDeA Foundation. Catholicos Karekin II, also conveyed his blessings to the philanthropist who joined the initiative: Mr. Albert Avdolyan, Bidzina Ivanashvili, Danil Khachaturov, Sergey Sarkisov, Konstantin Margaryan, Boris Nahapetyan, and Andrey Mkrtchyan.
His Holiness expressed his appreciation to the Primate of the Diocese and the clergy, for their diligent and devoted service offered to the Georgian-Armenians, as well as to the members of the Diocesan Council, and devotees of the educational and national institutions.
His Holiness also asked for God’s blessings for the Armenian and Georgian architects, craftsmen, builders and workers.
At the conclusion, the Catholicos of All Armenians prayed that God preserves the Georgian country prosperous and bright.
Following the service, an awards ceremony was held. Individuals who played important roles in the reconstruction work of the St. Gevorg Cathedral were granted Orders of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church and awarded Pontifical Letters of Blessing and Appreciation. Mr. Albert Avdolyan, Mr. Sergey Sarkisov and Bidzina Ivanashvili were granted the Order of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Mr. Danil Khachaturov, Mr. Sergey Sarkisov, Mr. Konstantin Margaryan, Mr. Boris Nahapetyan and Mr. Andrey Mkrtchyan were granted the Order of Saint Sahak – Saint Mesrop of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church. Mr. Artur Amirkhanyan, Mr. Aramayis Kamalov, Mrs. Irina Kondratova, Mrs. Eleonora Malkhasyan, Armen Jilavyan, Mr. Edgar Manukyan, Mr. David Davidyants and Mrs. Armine Ghazartyan were awarded letters of Blessing and Appreciation.
After the conclusion of the service, His Holiness and President Serzh Sargsyan attended the unveiling of a memorial plaque in the church courtyard, which lists the names of the benefactors and donors.
Attending the consecration service were State officials of Georgia and Armenia, benefactors of the Armenian Church, foreign diplomats and numerous Georgian-Armenians.