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The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia forms part of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, the center of which is in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The Diocese is controlled according to the canons of the Bible and the Armenian Church, by the orders of the Catholicos of All Armenians. The Head of the Diocese is appointed by the order of the Catholicos of All Armenians.

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia covers the whole territory of Georgia. The Cathedral of Surb Gevorg in Tbilisi is the seat of the Primate of the Diocese. As of 2013 there are 16 clerics and 50 operating churches at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia.

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church in Georgia unites and heads the churches operating on the territory of Georgia, guides the Armenian Christian community, and is under the authority of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia includes the communities, operating and not operating churches, located in Tbilisi, Javakheti, Adjaria and Kvemo Kartli regions.

In July of 2011 Georgian parliament adopted a law, according to which the operating in Georgia religious communities could be granted the status. In accordance with the law, on March 12, 2012 the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia was registered as a legal entity of public law at Civil Registry Agency of Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

Nowadays the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia imposes requirements on Georgian authorities about the restitution of 442 Armenian churches.  Some of them are ruined or their territory is used for the construction of other objects or they are simply changed into Georgian Orthodox Churches. The Diocese requests the restitution of Surb Norashen Astvatsatsin Church , Surb Nshan Church , Saint Gevorg of Mughni Church, Yerevantsots Saint Minas Church, Shamkhoretsots Karmir Avetaran in Tbilisi, Surb Nshan Church in Akhaltsikhe that have been confiscated during the Soviet Period. Georgian authorities have not yet responded to this request but the reconstruction of Surb Norashen Astvatsatsin Church continues.

Period of Formation of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia

According to historical sources the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia as a separate ecclesiastical unit has existed since the 5th century. This fact is proved by the 10th century Armenian historian Ukhtanes of Sebastia, who is known for his “History in Three Parts”, in the chapter  “History of the Severance of the Georgians and Armenians” he tells that already in the 5th century there was the residence of Armenian Bishop in Tsurtavi. It is remarkable that, even though Tsurtavi belonged to the Georgian Church, the Diocese there was Armenian, where from the 5th century by the order of Saint Shushanik church ceremonies were conducted in Armenian.

At the same time, it should be mentioned, that according to the 12th century Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa the greatest Georgian king David the Builder (1089-1125) gives for those times the highest status to the representation of Armenian Church in Georgia, the administrative center of which was in Tbilisi. It is assumed that the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia was founded in the 12th century. Since the 13th century the Cathedral of Surb Gevorg in Tpkhis (Tbilisi) has been the seat of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.