Georgian Orthodox Church

The Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს სამოციქულო ავტოკეფალური მართლმადიდებელი ეკლესია, romanized: sakartvelos samotsikulo avt'ok'epaluri martlmadidebeli ek'lesia), commonly known as the Georgian Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Church of Georgia, is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in full communion with the other churches of Eastern Orthodoxy. It is Georgia's dominant religious institution, and a majority of Georgian people are members. The Orthodox Church of Georgia is one of the oldest churches in the world. It asserts apostolic foundation, and that its historical roots can be traced to the early and late Christianization of Iberia and Colchis by Saint Andrew in the 1st century AD and by Saint Nino in the 4th century AD, respectively. As in similar autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, the church's highest governing body is the holy synod of bishops. The church is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, who was elected in 1977.

Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia
Coat of arms of the Orthodox Church of Georgia
ClassificationEastern Orthodox
ScriptureSeptuagint, New Testament
PolityEpiscopal polity
PrimateIlia II of Georgia
HeadquartersTbilisi, Georgia
PossessionsWestern Europe, Russia, Turkey,[1] Azerbaijan, Australia, Armenia
FounderSaint Andrew, Saint Nino, Mirian III
Independencefrom Antioch: dates vary between 467-491 and 1010,[lower-alpha 1]
from Russia in 1917, 1943
RecognitionAutocephaly gradually conferred by the Church of Antioch and recognized by most of the Church, dates vary between 467-491 and 1010. Autocephaly quashed by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1811 on orders of the Tsar, partially restored in 1917, fully restored in 1943. Recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1990.
SeparationsAbkhazian Orthodox Church (2009)
Members3.5 million (2011)[2]
  1. See below, Autocephaly for details on the process

Eastern Orthodox Christianity was the state religion throughout most of Georgia's history until 1921, when it was conquered by the Russian Red Army during the Russian-Georgian War and became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.[3] The current Constitution of Georgia recognizes the special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the country's history, but also stipulates the independence of the church from the state. Government relations are further defined and regulated by the Concordat of 2002.

The Georgian Orthodox Church is the most trusted institution in Georgia. According to a 2013 survey 95% respondents had a favorable opinion of its work.[4] It is highly influential in the public sphere and is considered Georgia's most influential institution.[5][6]