Eparchy

eparqia

This eparchy, being the largest one, includes bigger part of historic south-west Georgia. It comprises of Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, AspindzaMunicipalities and historically Georgian provinces of Tao, Klarjeti, Shavsheti, Kola, Artaani and Lazeti now forming part of Turkey. Although nominally, the jurisdiction of Akhaltsikhe archbishop has been , righteously extent to the historic territories since October 17, 2002, after the decision of holly Synod of Georgian Orthodox Church on naming Akhaltsikhe eparchy as the Eparchy of Akhaltsikhe, Tao-Klarjeti and Lazeti and restoring jurisdiction of Georgian Church within the historic borders.

At present the eparchy unites episcopacies of former Atskuri, Tsurtskabi, Ishkhani, Bana, Anchi, Erusheti, Tbeti, Akhizi and Archimandracies (monasteries) of Sapara, Zarzma, Vardzia, Opiza, Shatberdi, Khakhuli, Khandzta and etc.

Atskuri Episcopacy established by Saint Andrew the first had been one of the main eparchies of south-west Georgia (Samtskhe-Saatabago, Javakheti, Tao-Klarjeti-Shavsheti). Its cathedral homed Acheiropoietos, Miraculous Icon of Mother Mary. Ancient Atskuri Episcopacy was abolished under the government of Turks by the end of XVII century. It was revived as a larger Atskuri Eparchy in 1917 and continued to exist till 1981. In 1981 the eparchy was renamed as Akhaltsikhe and Meskhet-Javakheti Eparchy while in 1995 it was divided into Akhaltsikhe and Borjom-Akhalkalaki eparchies.

In the past, episcopacies and monasteries existing at the present Akhaltsikhe, Tao-Klarjeti and lazeti territories, represented hubs of Georgian bibliography. They were hosting famous Georgian theologian writers, translators, and calligraphists. At the same time, this territory used to incur most loss due to foreign invaders-In the second half of XVI century it was torn apart from the unified Georgian Organism and its intense islamization was started. It is not surprising that churches and monasteries were put in the worst position. Almost all the episcopacies were abolished. Catholic missionaries and later Armenian monophysites started preaching in the Christian Georgian population left without episcopes and often without priests. The change of religion resulted into the division of Georgian population into Tatars (Mohammedan Georgians), French (Catholic Georgians) and Armenians (monophisite Georgians). Religious mix was followed by ethnic mix and the once blossoming land with orthodox traditions was renamed as Akhaltsikhe Pashalic and became the land of foreign tradition and ethnic culture. The conditions were extremely hard in this ancient land during the communist regime too. Although Atskuri Eparchy was restored in 1917, governing archbishops were holding the titles of Atskuri Epischops only nominally. The revival of monastery life starts by the end of 1970’s –when Episcope Ambrosi (Katamadze), Metropolitan Anania (Japaridze), Metropolitan Sergi (Chekurashvili), Metropolitan Nicholoz (Pachuashvili)  undertake the responsibilities of Archbishops. Since 1998 Metropolitan Theodore (Chuadze) has been a governing archbishop of the eparchy.

There were only two churches functioning for decades. At present, 19 churches and 9 monasteries are functioning in the eparchy. There is a theological seminary working at Sapara Assumption Church.

Metropolitan Theodore (Chuadze)

Mitropolitan of Akhaltsikhe,Tao-Klarjeti and Lazeti since 1998.