Tbilisi, September 23, 2019
Since January 2008, His Holiness Catholics-Patriarch Ilia II has been holding several mass Baptism ceremonies in a year, in which he personally becomes Godfather to the third and later children of married Orthodox couples.
The Baptisms are part of his initiative to improve the dire post-Soviet demographic situation in Georgia. Pat. Ilia is the most trusted and beloved man in the nation, and families are overjoyed to spiritually unite their children to him.
The 59th mass Baptism was celebrated in July, after which Pat. Ilia was Godfather to 39,242 children.
The 60th such ceremony was held yesterday, bringing the number of Godchildren of the Patriarch to more than 40,000, reports Interpress.
As usual, the Baptisms were celebrated in Holy Trinity-Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi, with about 800 children being baptized this time. Pat. Ilia personally blessed each child following the Baptisms.
“I congratulate you with this joyous day. Today is a jubilee—the 60th Baptism. These Baptisms have been held 60 times, and the number of Godchildren has reached 40,000. May the Lord grant you peace. May God bless your families, parents, brothers and sisters, and relatives. May the Lord endow you with talents, the gift of learning, a steadfast Orthodox faith, love, and the ability to help those in need. Be blessed,” His Holiness said.
Pat. Ilia has been the primate of the Georgian Church for 41 years. At the time of his enthronement, there were 15 dioceses and only 30 active churches left thanks to communist persecutions. Today there are 47 dioceses and about 2,000 active parishes, as well as about 3,000 clergy.