Holy Hierarch Alexandre, Bishop of Guria and Samegrelo (†1907)

Memory 27 October (9 November)

The holy hierarch Alexandre (Alexi Okropiridze in the world) was born in 1824, in the village of Disevi in the Gori district, to the family of the village priest. Growing up around the church, he received his primary education at Gori Theological School and later continued his education at Tbilisi Seminary.

Having completed his course of study at the seminary in 1845, he was tonsured a monk at the Tbilisi Monastery of the Transfiguration and given the new name Alexandre. From Tbilisi the young monk Alexandre traveled to the theological academy in Kazan to continue his studies. He graduated with honors and returned to his homeland.

Hieromonk Alexandre taught the Holy Scriptures, Latin, moral theology, and archaeology at Tbilisi Seminary until July 27, 1851. Then, at the order of the Holy Synod, he was appointed dean of the theological school in Abkhazeti on September 21, 1851. He was also entrusted with overseeing monastic life in the Abkhazeti diocese and with supervising the instruction at Kutaisi Theological School.

Alexandre considered a broadening of the network of theological institutions most essential to the strengthening of the Christian Faith in his country. From the very beginning of his labors in Abkhazeti, he exerted an enormous amount of effort to improve the Ilori Theological School in Ochamchire. At first Alexandre was active as a pedagogue, then from February 29, 1856, as an archimandrite, and fromMarch 4, 1862, as a bishop. He was as beloved throughout all of Georgian society as he was by the local population, and many called him the “Second Apostle to Abkhazeti.”

Alexandre’s pastoral activity coincided with a difficult period in Georgian history. The divine services were no longer being celebrated in the Georgian language, and as a result many of the people began to drift away from the Church. Many Georgian churches and monasteries, considered cultural and academic centers from ancient times, were deserted. The Georgian language was no longer being taught in schools, and the poorest families could not afford to educate their children. The learned and erudite Bishop Alexandre considered the revival of spiritual life and learning, firmly rooted in the national consciousness, the principle means by which to reinvigorate the national spirit and encourage cultural advance.

Alexandre’s efforts on behalf of the revival of the churches and monasteries in Abkhazeti are, among his many labors, most worthy of note. Through his efforts alone two churches were restored in Sokhumi. Outside of Abkhazeti, Alexandre renewed the magnificent monasteries of Shio-Mgvime, Zedazeni, Davit-Gareji, and Shemokmedi. He restored Jvari Church, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Disevi Church, and many other churches in Guria-Samegrelo, Atchara, and Imereti.He devoted special attention to the Shio-Mgvime Monastery and the surrounding area, which had been devastated by that time.

Owing to St. Alexandre’s generous financial contributions, a diocesan school for women was founded in Tbilisi in 1878.

By his initiative and personal contributions, a great number of spiritual and historical books, textbooks and collections of sacred hymns were published. Not a single God-pleasing project was undertaken without Alexandre’s support.

St. Alexandre spent the remainder of his days at the Shio-Mgvime Monastery, which he himself had restored. Only once — on September 9, 1907, the day his spiritual son St. Ilia the Righteous was buried — did he step outside the monastery walls. The eighty-threeyear-old Alexandre outlived the great son of Georgia by two months and fell asleep in the Lord on October 27 of the same year. St. Alexandre is buried at Shio-Mgvime Monastery.

We honor thy holy virtues and labors, O Holy Hierarch Alexandre, and entreat thy protection before God!

Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze


For further information on the book THE LIVES OF THE GEORGIAN SAINTS by Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze contact St. Herman Press:
St. Herman Press, P.O. Box 70, Platina, CA 96076
http://www.stherman.com/catalog/chapter_five/Lives_of_the_georgian_saints.htm

11/9/2007

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