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Eastern Christianity

Orthodox Church of Georgia

Doctrines On all major issues the Orthodox Church of Georgia is in agreement with other Orthodox Churches. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

History Christianity came to Georgia in the fourth century through the ministry of a slave girl, Nina (d.335), whose strength of faith so impressed King Merian and Queen Nana that they adopted Christianity and made it the religion of their people. Thereafter, the church in Georgia remained under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch until the eighth century when it became autocephalous.
In 1811 Georgia was annexed by Russia, and the Church of Georgia was forced to merge with the Russian Orthodox Church. The merger produced considerable hardship for the Georgian Church: the Katholikos was suppressed and replaced by a Russian exarch, the liturgy was read in Slavonic rather than Georgian, and churches and monasteries were despoiled.
The Georgian Church regained its independence after the revolution of 1917. However, the Church continued to be heavily persecuted during the Soviet era. Hundreds of churches were closed by the government, and many were forced to practice their faith in secret. Georgia's declaration of independence in 1991 has freed the church from state interference.

Symbols Festal icons, Christ as Pantocrator, Mary as Theotokos. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

Adherents Today the Church has some 5,000,000 adherents (Europa Publications Limited 1995, 1:1284).

Main Centre
 Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia, 380005, Tiblisi, Sioni 4; tel. (8832) 72-27-18.