Abkhazia: Historic documents tell it all
Historic documents tell it all
Disturbing news is coming from Abkhazia. With instigation of the Moscow
Patriarchate and through blindness of the separatist authorities of
Abkhazia vandals of the XXI century are purposely destroying all
Georgian trace on monuments of cultural heritage.
As a result of so-called restoration works in the Ilori St. George
Church of the XI century authenticity of the monument has been
completely erased and features characteristic of the traditional
Georgian church architecture disappeared. A Russian-style, so-called
onion-like dome was erected on top of the church, Georgian lapidary
inscriptions on the eastern wall of the church were whitewashed and
domes were painted in red.
The fresco of the first king of the unified Georgian state Bagrat III
Bagrationi and Georgian inscriptions were erased in the Bedia Church in
the Ochamchire district that was built by his where he and his mother
Queen Gurandukht are buried.
The Georgian side appealed to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to help
save other Georgian monuments and churches from the fate of the churches
of Ilori and Bedia.
The state strictly protects historical cultural monuments and in
Abkhazia there have never been and are not now any Georgian cultural
heritage monuments – unambiguously and categorically states chief
historian of the protection of the historical and cultural heritage of
the separatist Abkhazia Anzor Agumaa.
Against this background, on February 3rd with the clear order of the
Russian Patriarchate the separatist authorities of Abkhazia urgently
organized so-called people gathering at the central square of Sukhumi in
the freezing temperatures where its participants unanimously declared
about restoration of the independence of the “Abkhazian Orthodox Church”
and its separation from the Georgian Orthodox Church space. Every
participant of the event was to sign a document about the secession.
Although many of them, including members of the government and the
parliament that were organizers of the event, have till now been
declaring themselves Muslims and even pagans and have never even stepped
inside a Christian church.
According to parliamentarian Batal Kobakhia and historian Oleg Bgazhba
“nothing extraordinary is happening, the Abkhazian church is just
returning to the family of the Orthodox churches”.
The material that was prepared regarding this issue by journalist Levon
Galustian says: “main participants of the gathering were ministers,
members of the parliament, university teachers, students, successful
businessmen and bankers” and then “words of gratitude were often heard
from the tribune toward Father Vissarion Apliaa for his great service in
the matter of building the Abkhazian Orthodoxy. Many times were also
mentioned about contribution of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the time
of the difficult years of the war and afterwards as well it has not
stopped giving its spiritual care for Abkhazian believers. One of the
clauses of the appeal that was approved at the gathering was also
dedicated to the role of the Moscow Patriarchate”.
Lately, with regards to anti-government rallies that started in Moscow
and other cities of Russia Russian Patriarch Kirill publicly stated that
Orthodox Christians were to go only to churches to pray and not to
streets to rally. Now probably His Holiness will feel a little awkward
when he hears that at the Sukhumi gathering he was mentioned and thanked
alongside well-known “spiritual father” of so-called thieves-in-law
Vissarion Apliaa who instead of praying in the church was running around
with a gun in hand together with other criminals to expel hundreds of
thousands of Orthodox Christians from their homes and to destroy them.
It is not a secret at all that processes that have evolved with such
speed in Abkhazia are aimed at yet another attempt to separate Abkhazia
from Georgia, to create another barrier on the road of return of
Abkhazians and Circassians of Muslim faith from Syria and other
countries to their historical homelands and to set Abkhazians against
the Adyge peoples.
Actions of the separatist authorities of Abkhazia who are obedient and
silent followers of the Moscow instructions could not have been any
different. But how shameless must be those historians that brazenly
maintain that there are no Georgian historical monuments on the
territory of Abkhazia and Abkhazian Orthodox Christians have nothing in
common with Georgians. And that when they well know that after
Christianity came into Georgia all Orthodox Christian churches in
Abkhazia were built by Georgians and Abkhazians and church service in
these churches, even at the time of the big influence of the Byzantine
influence, were conducted in Georgian language using chrism consecrated
in the main Georgian cathedral Svetitskhoveli in Mtskheta. They can
destroy monuments, erase inscriptions, but they cannot wipe out true
history told by foreign and local chroniclers.
We do not consider it to be to much to remind those historians at least
data on those primates of the church that on the course of centuries
were at the helm of congregation of Abkhazia i.e. western Georgia.
Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia (western Georgia) such as Simon,
Nikoloz, Daniel, Arseni and Joakim led the church before XIV century.
Their work was continued by the following Patriarchs:
Stephan – Catholicos patriarch of Abkhazia (western Georgia) 1490-1516
Malakia I (Abashidze) – 1519-1540. He had a residence in Bichvinta.
Evdemon I (Chkhetidze) – 1557-1578. Catholicos Patriarch of Abkhazia
(western Georgia). He was buried in the St. George Church in Gelati.
Eftvime (Ekvtime) I (Sakvarelidze) – 1578-1616. Catholicos-Patriarch of
Abkhazia (western Georgia).
Malakia II (Gurieli) – 1616-1639. Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia. By
his order “Selection of Bitchvinta manuscripts” was compiled, as well as
Great book of Peasants of the Land of the Abkhazian Catholicos. Malakia
II ordered to the icon of the St. Andrew that was rested in an adorned
coffin and placed in the Bichvinta church.
Maxime I (Machutadze) – 1639-1657. Died in Jerusalem in 1957 and was
buried in the Monastery of the Cross there.
Svimon (Chkhetidze) - 1660-1666. Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia.
Evdemon II (Sakvarelidze) -1666-1669. Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia.
Ekvtime II (Sakvarelidze) - 1669-1973. Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia.
Davit (Nemsadze) - 1673-1696. Davit stopped Abkhazian prince Kvapu
Shervashidze from selling serfs as slaves.
Grigol II (Lortkipanidze) - 1696-1742. He prompted king of Imereti and
princes of Odishi and Guria and others to present lands and serfs to the
Bitchvinta monastery. He actively fought against the spread of Islam and
selling of serfs.
Besarion (Eristavi) - 1769-1776. Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia.
Ioseb (Bagrationi) - 1769-1776. Catholicos-Patriarch of Abkhazia. He is
buried in Gelati Monastery.
Maxime II (Abashize) - 1776-1795. The last Catholicos patriarch of
Abkhazia ( western Georgia). In 1768 the King of Imereti Solomon I sent
him as an ambassador to the Russian imperial court to ask for help
against the ottomans. He died in Kiev in 1795 and was buried in the Kiev
Dositeos (Tsereteli) - 1795-1814.
After a period of Moscow-sent Russian exarches this list was continued
with Catholicos-Patriarchs of All Georgia after restoration of autocephaly:
Kirion II (Sadzaglishvili) – 1917-1917
Leonide (Okropiridze) – 1919-1921
Ambrosi (Khelaya) – 1921-1927
Christephore III (Tsitskishvili) – 1927-1932
Kalistrate (Tsintsadze) – 1932-1952
Melkisedek III (Pkhaladze) – 1952-1960
Efrem II (Sidamonidze) – 1960-1972
David VI (Devdariani) – 1972-1977
From 1977 works of these respected church people was continued by the
metropolitan of Abkhazia (1967-1977), today’s patriarch, His Holiness
and Beatitude Ilia II who always blesses the Orthodox congregation of
Abkhazia with special warmth and love.
Artificial separation of Abkhazian people from Georgians, attempt of
their alienation from the Adyge peoples and compatriots living abroad
will remain just an attempt and it is doomed for a failure.