Melchizedek I of Georgia

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Our father among the saints, Melchizedek I of Georgia was the ruling bishop of the Church of Georgia in the early part of the eleventh century, from 1010 to 1033. He is believe to have been the first Catholicos of Georgia to be honored as Catholicos-Patriarch. He is commemorated on October 1.


Little is known of the early life of Catholicos Melchizedek. Traditionally, he has been described as being of noble lineage and to have been a pupil of King Bagrat III. Details of his consecration as bishop are not known. He became Catholicos upon the death of Catholicos Simeon about the year 1010. He led the Church until about 1033, through the reigns of Kings Bagrat III, George I, and Bagrat IV.

During his lifetime, Catholicos Melchizedek journeyed several times to Constantinople. Historians believe that during one of the visits the patriarchs of the East approved “Catholicos-Patriarch” as the official title of the senior hierarch of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church. In his will, he is referred to as “Catholicos-Patriarch”.

Under his leadership, the ancient Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, that dates back to the fourth century, was restored and adorned anew. To help finance the restoration effort, Catholicos Melchizedek included among his visits to Constantinople a visit to Emperor Basil II (the Bulgar-slayer) to raise funds for the restoration of the cathedral. Generously treated, Catholicos-Patriarch Melchizedek returned to Georgia and was able to pursue the greatest construction project of that century in Georgia.

In his will, that has been preserved, Melchizedek bequeathed a long list of holy objects, monasteries, and villages to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. He also specified in his will where he wished to be buried.

The Church of Georgia glorified St. Melchizedek on October 17, 2002.

Succession box:
Melchizedek I of Georgia
Preceded by:
Simeon III
Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia
Succeeded by:
John V (Chrisostomus)
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