Unknown Pages Of The Life Of Christephore Tsitskishvili – Catholicos-patriarch Of All Georgia (According To The Documents From The Gori Archive)

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Giorgi Sosiashvili


After the establishment of the Bolshevik government in 1921 the Georgian society was in a rather difficult situation. Repressions hit the country, while the Georgian church found itself in an unbearable situation. The government attacked not only the Orthodox Church, but different religious minorities as well. On April 15, 1922 the Georgian Revolutionary Committee passed a decree №22, with 14th and 15th paragraphs saying: “Neither ecclesiastical nor religious community has the right to have the property. They do not have the right to be a legal entity; all the ecclesiastical and religious property in the Georgian Republic is announced to be public”. As we see from the document, the Bolsheviks did not give the Georgian church any rights, and religious societies were deprived of gaining the legal status.

The robbing of churches turned into a hysterical campaign. The Bolsheviks created the so-called “Union of the Atheists” and declared a ruthless fight against the Orthodox religion and ecclesiastical figures. The district government and the revolutionary committees under its guidance discredited church workers and appropriated the church property. The Bolshevik government repressions hit not only the ecclesiastical people of low hierarchy, but also the authorities of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Catholicos-patriarch of all Georgia, Ambrosi (Khelaia) became a victim of the Bolshevik government terror as a result of which the tortured patriarch died on March 29, 1927. The patriarchal throne was occupied by Christephore III, whose enthronement was held in Svetitskhoveli on October 14, 1927. The candidacy of Christephore was acceptable to the government. Vladimer Dekanozov noted about this fact in his letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

According to his information, there was a controversy between the supporters of patriarch Ambrosi and Christephore at the church council, where the patriarch should have been elected. It was to the advantage of Christephore. The supporters of Ambrosi left the council as a sign of protest. As Dekanozov noted, the new Patriarch Christephore sympathized the Bolsheviks and confronted the members of the Menshevik government.

Despite Christephore’s loyal attitude towards the existing government, soon the Bolsheviks turned against him. It was proved by the violence committed against the patriarch’s family. The leader of the Georgian Church was deprived of the house in Surami. In January, 1930, the patriarch asked the Georgian Central Executive Committee to return him the house and his land plot. He received a positive answer, though the local government, particularly the Surami Executive Committee did not return him his property. The documents in the Gori Archive give a clear picture about the government`s attitude towards the patriarch. Christephore repeatedly asked the government to return him his property. At the request of catholicos-patriarch to return his
house and land plot, he received a positive answer, though the local representatives of the Bolshevik government acted unofficially, according to the instructions of the Central Government, and neglected the patriarch’s pleas. The patriarch of the Georgian Church passed away on January 10, 1932.

Published: Aug 25, 2021

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