[[Image:Patriarchate_of_Georgia.gif|right|The Church of Georgia]]The '''Church of Georgia''' is one of the oldest Christian Churches, tracing its origins in tradition to the [[missionary]] efforts of the [[Apostle Andrew]] in the first century. Historically, adoption of Christianity by the kingdom of Georgia (Iberia) is traced to the missionary efforts of St. Nino of Cappadocia beginning in early fourth century. Initially, the Georgian [[church]] was part of the territory of the [[Patriarchate of Antioch]]. The church was granted [[autocephaly]] by the Patriarch of Antioch in 466. While seriously disrupted by the invasions of the various tartar tribes in the 13 and 15th centuries the autocephalous church survived until it was placed under the administration of the synodal [[Church of Russia]] in 1811. After the abdication of Czar [[Nicholas II of Russia|Nicholas II]] following the 1917 February Revolution, the Georgian [[hierarch]]s restored autocephaly that was eventually recognized by the [[Church of Constantinople]] and the [[Church of Russia]].
Patriarchate of Georgia|
founder= [[Apostles]] [[Apostle Andrew|Andrew]], [[Apostle Simon|Simon the Canaanite]]|
independence=Antioch in 486, Russia in 1917|
recognition= 486, again 1990 |
primate=[[Ilia II (
Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Georgia|Patr. Ilia II]]|
website=[http://www.patriarchate.ge/ Church of Georgia]
According to tradition the Apostle Andrew, the First Called, preached in Georgia in the first century. Tradition relates that he came with the Holy Mother's Uncreated Icon, that is the icon of the [[Theotokos]] not made by human hands. This tradition introduced a deep affection for the Theotokos into Georgian conscientiousness. Additionally, tradition speaks to preaching by other [[apostles]] in Georgia including Simon the Canaanite, Matthias, Bartholomew, and Thaddeus. The establishment of the first Georgian [[eparchy]] ([[diocese]]) was also credited to the Apostle Andrew.
The active history of Christianity in Georgia begins with the missionary activities of [[Nino of Cappadocia]] beginning in 303. By 317 her message reached the rulers of the eastern and western kingdoms of Georgia when King Miriam II of Iberia (Eastern Georgia) and Queen Nana of Western Georgia adopted Christianity as the state religion. The Christianization of Georgia progressed over the next several centuries.
As part of the late Roman (Byzantine) Empire Georgian Christianity was heavily influenced by its form of practice. Initially, the churches in Georgia were part of the Apostolic See of Antioch. The Church of Georgia became [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] when the Patriarch of Antioch elevated the [[bishop]] of Mtskheta to the honor of Catholicos of Kastli in 466, an elevation recognized by the rest of the Church. Subsequently, the Catholicos was given the added title of [[Patriarch]] in 1010, making the title of the primate of the Georgian Church the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.
The invasions of the tartars in the 13th and 15th centuries greatly disrupted Christianity and the government of Georgia. The state as well as the church were divided into two separate parts, in which the churches were governed by two separate Catholicos-Patriarchs. In 1801, Eastern Georgia, that is Kartli-Kakheti, was annexed by the Czar of Russia. By 1811, the Church in Georgia was absorbed into the Synodal Church of Russia, ending autocephaly for the Georgian church.
With recognition of the Orthodox Church by Stalin after the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, to gain support of the Church for repulsing the invasion, the autocephaly of the Church of Georgia was recognized in 1943 by the Church of Russia. Then, in 1989, autocephaly was recognized by the [[Patriarch of Constantinople]], thus approving the ''de facto'' autocephaly exercised since the fifth century.
The full title of the [[primate]] of the Church of Georgia is: "His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos-[[Patriarch]] of all Georgia, [[Archbishop]] of Mtskheta and Tbilisi" (Georgian: უწმიდესი