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Georgia's Church art through the ages on show

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, January 5
An exhibition of Ancient and Modern Georgian Ecclesiastical Art opened at the National Museum on January 4. The exhibition, dedicated to the 77th birthday of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia the Second, has been organised with the support of the Georgian Patriarchate and presents medieval icons from the Art Museum and other Georgian museums and modern art works from churches, workshops and private collections in one space for the first time.

Patriarch Ilia has visited the exhibition himself and expressed great interest in the masterpieces. He enquired of each and every detail, blessed the parish and left the exhibition smiling. The organisers of the exhibition gave the Patriarch a catalogue of modern ecclesiastical art works and thanked him for his great support.

“Today is a very special day as we have managed to present works of old and new artists in one space at the Art Museum, which has a wonderful collection of ecclesiastic treasures. The main goal of the exhibition was to show how traditions continue to develop. The modern works, which are only 10-15 years old, were created despite serious difficulties in many respects. All their artists started from zero but with support of the Centre of Architecture, Art and Reconstruction of the Patriarchate and their own desire, they have managed to reach the high level of development demonstrated in all the work presented today. Everyone is proud to see their masterpiece in the museum and we are really glad that so many people appreciate ecclesiastical art,” Ana Burchuladze, organiser of the exhibition, told the media.

“I have a very festive mood, as the birthday of His Holiness and Beatitude is a very important date. I am also glad that the New Year has begun with such a wonderful exhibition. The visitors can see the work of ancient and modern artists, draw parallels between them and discover how traditions continue to develop,” Archpriest Alexander Galdava, one of the iconographers who work is presented at the exhibition, told The Messenger.

His Holiness and Beatitude received local and international guests at the Patriarchate who congratulated him on his 77th birthday. Montserrat Caballe, the world famous soprano, wished all the best to His Holiness and Beatitude in a video address: “I call your Catholicos-Patriarch a rescuer of souls. His Holiness and Beatitude advised me to visit all the churches and monasteries of Georgia but unfortunately I was unable to do so. I keep the icon presented by His Holiness and Beatitude at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in my bedroom. I want to express my special thanks to him for his friendship. I want you to know that I am someone who will always stand with your country any time you need it,” she stated.

“Today is a very special day for Georgia. The whole country celebrates our Patriarch’s birthday. He is a timeless person. His birthday is a very blessed and happy day for us all. I wish all the best to His Holiness and Beatitude and I hope the whole of Georgia will celebrate his 120th birthday with him,” Rusudan Kervalishvili, Deputy Chairperson of Parliament of Georgia, told The Messenger.

Patricia Flor, Ambassador of Germany to Georgia, also expressed her great tenderness towards his Holiness and Beatitude. “I really appraise your Patriarch and his role in Georgian society very highly. Of course the Orthodox Church is a very important part of Georgia's strength. I appreciate the traditions of ecclesiastical art in its monasteries and churches. I am really impressed with the level of Georgian art.”

In a special speech to the Georgian people His Holiness and Beatitude spoke about the most burning issue of the country. “Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region are our pain but they are not lost. We have only lost control of them temporarily. Soon will come the blessed day when they return to Georgia. This is necessary above all for those living in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali,” he stated.

A special service for the Patriarch’s health was held at Sioni Cathedral on the morning on January 4. The Patriarch and other clergy also attended a special service at Sioni Cathedral at 6 p.m. which enabled the whole cathedral parish to wish him all the best.