President Saakashvili awards special honour to Ecumenical Patriarch
Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II and His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I today conducted the Holy Liturgy at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta to mark the Holiday of Svetitskhovloba.
The service was attended by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, First Lady Sandra Roelofs, Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and other high-ranking Georgian government officials.
After the Liturgy, Saakashvili addressed worshippers and praised the contributions of the Georgian Patriarch.
"I want to congratulate you all on the holiday of Svetitskhovloba and on the upcoming 30th anniversary of Ilia II's enthronement as Patriarch.
"In order to mark this epoch of the strengthening of the Orthodox Church in Georgia, we are beginning a series of educational initiatives, both spiritual and secular, which will culminate on 25 December. I welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch and the worthy fathers from all of the world's Orthodox churches who have travelled here for this event. On behalf of the Georgian state I want to thank His Holiness Bartholomew I for establishing close ties with Georgia and for contributing to the popularization of Georgia in the world, particularly in the Orthodox world," the Georgian president said.
As a sign of thanks, Saakashvili awarded His Holiness Bartholomew I with an honorary medal of the first rank. "Relations between the Georgian and Greek cultures date back many centuries. I want to bestow upon this exceptional person this very prestigious award of the Georgian state, as he has made a special contribution to peace in the world, the development of human relations and the popularization of Georgia in the world," Saakashvili said.
of the President of Georgia