Tbilisi, January 4, 2015
Citizens of Georgia greeted Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia on his birthday on January 4, reports Gruzia Online. His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II turned 82.
The future Patriarch Ilia II (birth name: Irakli Georgievich Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili) was born on January 4, 1933, in the city of Vladikavkaz (now the capital of the autonomous republic of North Ossetia in SW Russia).
In 1952 he graduated from the secondary school no. 22 of Vladikavkaz and joined the Moscow Theological Seminary.
On April 16, 1957, as a second-year student of the Moscow Theological Academy, with the blessing of then Catholicos-Patriarch Melkhisedek II of All Georgia (1872-1960), he was tonsured a monk in the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Tbilisi. In 1960 he graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy.
On August 26, 1963, he was consecrated Bishop of Batumi and Shemokmedi by Catholicos-Patriarch Ephraim II (1896-1972) and appointed a patriarchal vicar.
In 1967 Bishop Ilia was moved to the Diocese of Abkhazia and in 1969 was elevated to the rank of metropolitan.
On November 9, 1977, after repose of Catholicos-Patriarch David V (1903-1977), by the decision of the Holy Synod he was appointed Locum Tenens, and on December 23, 1977, was elected the new Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. The enthronement of Ilia II took place on December 25, 1977.
Over the past 37 years, the number of dioceses in Georgia increased from 15 to 46. There are currently 48 bishops in the country, including the Patriarch. The numbers of monasteries, convents, churches, and clergy have risen as well.