The Most Reverend Theodor
Metropolitan of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti
Chorbishop of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia
In laity – Dimitri son of Amirani Tchuadze
Was born: April 11 th , 1967, in Sighnaghi.
Angel Day: Ι week of the Great Lent - Theodore the Martyr Commemoration Day
Consecrated as a monk: 22.02.1991
Sanctified as a deacon: 02.04.1991
Sanctified as a priest: 08.09.1991
Sanctified as a bishop: 27.10.1996
Metropolitan Theodor, in laity Dimitri son of Aleksandre Tchuadze, was born on April 11 th , 1967, in Sighnaghi. His family moved to Telavi in 1974. He graduated Telavi high-school in 1984 and he continued his studies at the Faculty of Construction of Georgian Polytechnic Institute. In 1968-1988 years he served in the ranks of the Soviet Army. He enrolled into Akhaltsikhe Theological Seminary in 1990. On February 22 nd the Superior of Sapara Holy Saba Monastery Sergi (at present metropolitan) consecrated novitiate Dimitri as a monk and named him Theodor. On June 2 nd 1991, in Sioni Cathedral, His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II sanctified monk Theodor as a monk and deacon and on September 8 th , 1991 - monastic priest. He was appointed Superior of Sapara Monastery in 1992. On July 12 th , 1993, he received a Hegumen title and Archimandrite title on October 26 th , 1996. On October 27 th , 1996, in Mtskheta Svetitskhoveli patriarchate temple, His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II with the co-celebration of Holy Synod members, sanctified Archimandrite Theodor as Bodbeli Bishop.
Metropolitan Theodor is the Superior of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti eparchy since November, 1998. From March, 2003 to June 4th, 2004 the bishop Theodor was a Chairman of Financial and Economic Council of the Patriarchate of Georgia, from June 4th, 2004 to February, 2015 he is a principal of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary. From February, 2005 he is a Chorbishop of Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia. In December, 2003 for devoted and long-term service in the church Theodor received Archbishop title and in 2006 Metropolitan title. On December 24 th , 2007, Metropolitan Theodore was awarded with St. George’s I rank Order. Metropolitan Theodore has to work in one of the difficult regions, where due to historical distress except Orthodox Georgians live the Catholic Georgians, Monophisite Armenians, in historical Tao- Klarjeti (??), that today is part of Turkey our brothers, converted to Islam (??). With the effort of Metropolitan Theodore, it’s peaceful in the eparchy and no confrontations upon religious grounds occur. With the blessings of His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, the Metropolitan Theodore participates in International Christian Forums.
Despite many difficulties and resistance, Archbishop Theodore has traveled multiple times to historical Tao-Klarjeti, visited Khandzta, Shatberdi, Parkhali, Tskarostavi, Ishkhani, Khakhuli …. Met with the Georgians, living in Turkey.
Territorially the most extensive, this Eparchy includes a large part of historical South-Western Georgia. It
includes Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, Aspindza regions and historical Georgian provinces in Turkey – Tao,
Klarjeti, Shavsheti, Kola and Artaanida. It is true that nominally, but fairly the jurisdiction of Akhaltsikhe
Bishop applies on historical lands since October 17, 2002, after the Holy Synod of Georgian Orthodox
Apostolic Church decreed Akhaltsikhe eparchy to be called Akhaltsikhe, Tao-Klarjeti and Lazeti eparchy
and Georgian Church jurisdiction to be restored in historical borders. At present the eparchy unifies
former Atskuri, Tsurtskabi, Ishkhani, Bana, Anchi, Erusheti, Tbeti, Akhizi eparchies, Sapara, Zarzma,
Vardzia, Opizi, Shatberdi, Khakhuli, Khandzta and other archimandrites (monasteries).
One of the major eparchies of South-Western Georgia (Samtskhe-Saatabago, Javakheti, Tao-Klarjet- Shavsheti) for centuries was Atskuri eparchy, founded by St. Andrew the Apostle, in the cathedral of which seated St. Virgin Mary’s miraculous icon not made by human hands (Acheiropoieta). The ancient episcopacy of Atskuri was abolished during Turk’s oppressing, in the end of the XVII century. It, with the name, however with an increased area, Atskhuri eparchy was restored in 1917 and existed until 1981 by this name. The eparchy was named Akhaltsikhe and Meskhet-Javakheti eparchy in 1981 and in 1995 eparchy was divided into two – Akhaltsikhe and Borjom-Akhalkalaki eparchies.
In the past, the episcopacy and monastery centers located on as of today Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti territory, at the same time were strong homes for Georgian literature. Here, for centuries worked famous Georgian theologians, translators, calligraphers. At the same time, this area was mostly affected by foreign invaders – in the second half of XVI century, it completely disappeared from the common Georgian body and began systematic Islamization of this party Evidently, most of all the churches and monasteries were damaged. Almost every episcopacy was demolished, in Christian Georgian population, left without a bishop and frequently without a priest, Catholic missionaries began to preach and later, the Armenian Monophysites. The change of religion led to the division of Georgian population in Tatars (Georgians, converted to Islam), French (Georgians, converted to Catholic) and Armenians (Georgians, converted to Monophysite). Religious confusion was followed by ethnic confusion and this once prosperous and Orthodox, traditional party, that was named Akhaltsikhe Sapasho, became a party with foreign traditions and ethnoculture. There was an extremely difficult condition in this ancient part of Georgia during communist regime. Although, the Atskuri eparchy was restored in 1917, the high priests only nominally carried the Matskvereli bishop title. The revival of the Church life begins since the end of 70’s of the XX century – here the high priests were bishop Ambrosi (Katamadze), metropolitan Anania (Japaridze), metropolitan Sergi (Chekurishvili), metropolitan Nikoloz (Pachuashvili). Metropolitan Theodor (Tchuadze) is the Superior of the eparchy since 1998.
There was no active Orthodox Church in the eparchy before the 80s of the XX century. Metropolitan Theodor valiantly continued and extended the merit that metropolitan Anania (Japaridze), metropolitan Sergi (Chekurishvili), metropolitan Nikoloz (Pachuashvili) began.
Metropolitan Theodor (Tchuadze)
From 1998- Present - Metropolitan of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti
Archimandrite Nikoloz, Superior of Zarzma Monastery
In laity – Vladimer Getsadze
Was born: June 1 st , 1977, in Kutaisi.
Angel Day: December 19 th and May 22 nd
Consecrated as a monk: 27.04.2000
Sanctified as a deacon: 01. 04. 2001
Sanctified as a priest: 02. 11. 2003
Archimandrite Nikoloz, in laity Vladimer Getsadze, was born on June 1 st , 1977 in Kutaisi. He graduated from Kutaisi high-school in 1995, studied in Kutaisi Theological Seminary in 1995-1998 years. Remained in the Sapara Holy Saba Monastery in 1998, where the Superior of Monastery monastic priest Arsen (Asanidze) consecrated him as a monk in 2000. Bishop Teodore sanctified him as a deacon in 2001. Bishop Teodore sanctified him as a monastic priest in 2003 and in that same year he was appointed as a Superior of Zarzma Monastery. He became hegumen in 2008 and archimandrite in 2011. He also is a Superior of Mokhi St. Andria the First-Called Nunnery since 2017.
Zarzma Monastery is located in Georgia, in Adigeni Municipality of Samtskhe-Javakheti region, in
historical party Samtskhe, village Zarzma, river Kvabliani gorge.
Zarzma Monastery was established by the clergyman of early Feudal age, Serapion Zarzmeli, from Klarjma, whose life is described in a famous literary work “Life and Work of Blessed and Blissful Father of Ours, Serapion” by a writer and churchman Basil Zarzmeli.
Serapion Zarzmeli’s and his brother’s desire to establish a monastery, was met with hostility by the people from the near settlement, they demanded their expulsion too. Serapion gave a miracle to the local people: One day the cliff split and flow started to come out that washed away almost the whole village, this is the reason why it is called Zarzma, as the people “were ineffably scared and frightened”. There are different opinions about the establishment of the monastery. Local Major, Giorgi Chorchaneli helped Serapion during construction. He has offered villages and lands to the monastery.The original church has not survived, it was build by an architect Garbaneli. The present temple of Zarzma was built in the beginning of XIV c. at the age of the Head of Samtskhe Beka, minister at court. The date is established with the disposition of church bursar inscriptions. Samtskhe’s strength creators are presented on the wall icons: Sargis I, I independent ruler of Samtskhe-Saatabago, then his son Beka I, who is a father of Sargis II and Kuarkuarasi. It turns out that three generations are presented here, according to their reign years, the temple is built between the last years of XIII c. and 1308 year (Beka’s death). The statistical data of the monument also confirms this date.
The oldest historical remain is the X century inscription brought from an earlier building framed in the entrance arch of one of the chapels, that tells the story of Georgian King David III the Great Kuropalates marched against Feudal Barda Skliarosi, who rebelled against the Byzantine Emperor to help the Byzantine kings. “I, son of Suliman Ivane build a holy chapel” – writes the member of the march, who had some connection with Zarzma, “ When Skliarosi resigned, Davit Kurapalati was praised, he rescued the holy kings and sent all of us with the army”. Ivane Sulisdze writing bears witness that Zarzma was an important center in X-XI centuries.
In 1577 the new owners of Zarzma Khurtsidzeebi partially changed the art of Zarzma church to new ones, the open first floor of the bell tower altered to Ioane Makharebeli church and partitioned the temple gate. Besides, they donated various blacksmith materials to the church, cared to decorate adorn it. The construction of Khurtsidze is the last chapter in the history of ancient Zarzma. At the end of XVI century Zarzma was emptied with other cultural centers of Samtskhe: “Zarzma church was corrupted by irreligious and filth Tatarian people, the monastery was deranged, ravaged and demolished”. All the property of Zarzma – icons, crosses, other ecclesiastical materials, primarily main holy Zarzma Transfiguration icon – was sent to Guria and there in village Shemokmedi, was rested in specially built church. At present, the saved treasure of Zarzma is kept in art museum. In XVIII-XIX centuries deserted, with Islamic population encircled Zarzma was gradually collapsed and damaged. The painting was so sordid that no scholar of the XIX century noticed the portraits of Atabags and other historical figures on its walls. It was restored in 1905, as a result the painting and stylistic features were violated. The Zarzma Monastery was an important cultural-educational hub that was clearly demonstrated by Basil Zarzmel's hagiographical work. Other bibliophiles worked in Zarzma residence: Germane Zarzmeli, Benedict Zarzmeli and others.
There are several ancient buildings in Zarzma: Great temple and chapel built on its east part, bell tower and propped chapel to its north; The same small, single-naved chapel at the north-west corner of the temple; remains of two small churches in the south and a spring in the east of the temple.
There is a hollow in the ground in the west of bell tower, near the wall, according to the locals, the tunnel to the river started from here. Now the tunnel is filled with sand. Other monastery buildings (monks, refectory, etc.) have not been preserved.
The temple is a domed building built with curved stone. Zarzma has light proportions and characteristic elements. This is its southern gallery – gate. It has occupied the entire south side of the main building. The entrance is from south and west side. The interior space is derived from the four armies of the cross and the middle rising dome. There is a deacon’s house and sacrament place on the side of deep arc, which are right-angled, without and arch. From the general decision of the interior, it is interesting and completely original loft held up on the west side naves. The author of Zarzma has denied its function and has only used a decorative element. The lofts from the east are open with one arch and to the west arm – two each arcs. The temple facades are made of gray curved stone with high master crafts. Colorful stones bring life and joy to the facades. In some places the other color stones are scattered here and there, there is a dual stone chess-work on the collum of the dome (above the window). Furthermore, on the collum of dome, in the ornamented laces, the background is painted. For this reason, ornament is seen more clearly from afar. The decoration is assembled around the door-windows. As for the décor performance technique, it’s performed with two methods - the majority are above the surface of the facade, and the rest is cut.
On the East façade great ornamented cross on the top of the window is mainly eye-catching. The cross arms grip almost all the width of façade.
The main window and entrance on the west facade are not placed on a single plumb axis. This leaves an unusual impression, but the architect's idea is easy to understand: The window is placed exactly in the upper part center of the façade and entrance is placed exactly in the low part center. This part is wider, as the west wall of east outbuilding is added to its right. The eastern façade of Zarzma temple, long gripping gate with arcs gives it more celebratory look. Temple has a very elegant dome. It is twelve-faceted and has the same amount of windows. But it's just a common impression, actually just six of them is real. Dome ribs are isolated and facets are processed separately with arcs.
The Zarzma Cathedral is now completely undamaged, its walls and roof are inviolable. It was repaired in XIX-XX centuries. Its paintings were restored at that time, which was covered with such dirt layer that they could not make much of it. Unfortunately, the repairers did not limit themselves with cleaning- solidifying, they renewed the paintings and which caused a great damage to it. However, Zarzma paintings are a very important monument. It is uncommon that almost all the pictures and all the figures in the old art are saved as they are in Zarzma.
Here we have the full painting of the temple. It is of great importance that a number of the portraits of historical people are presented in Zarzma painting, Samtskhe atabags are expressed: Sargis I, his son Beka minister at court and his children Sargis II and Kuarkuare, also the historical people (King of Imereti Bagrat III, Serapion Khurtsidze and others) portraits of XVI century. Stone septum in the temple gate is made by Khurtsidzeebi. This septum separates the right part of the gate. A chapel was also here. The septum inscription recalls “Its builder abbot Khurtsidze Gabriel… his mother, daughter of Ivane, Guldam been to Gaiane” and “his father, Shota been to Shio”. The parents of Gabriel name change means that they became monks. Other parts of Zarzma paintings are entirely of ecclesiastical character. The first floor of the bell tower, at first, was open from two sides (East and West). Old arc, that was built up, is still quite distinctive on the west side. In the east, the arc is covered by the extended wall (pulled out to some extent). The Zarzma bell tower is one of the oldest and largest in Georgia. Temple and church tower building materials and its processing characteristics are the same; The second floor pillars and
temple window ornaments are the same. The main detail of the bell tower is first floor star-like vault. Ornamented “wheel”, similar to which is in the temple gate and is now hardly visible. After building up the walls the first floor is dark. The bell tower itself was on the second floor. This open arc pavilion is not decorated inside. The present look was given to the bell tower in 1577. Khurtsidzeebi, who were the owners or Zarzma, built up the open arc of the first floor and turned a small church, exiting to the fence into a chapel. However the wall ornaments are of a low quality, faces are coarse, the cuts are rough, even simple rules are not preserved. There is a large inscription of Khurtsidzeebi, on the eastern wall of the cross. The inscription says that the "holy church”, i.e. first floor chapel, “was built” in the name of Ioane Evangelist with the order of Parsman Khurtsidze.