Tbilisi, April 3, 2020
All parishes and monasteries in Georgia will remain open for Palm Sunday and Pascha, His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II wrote in an address published on the official site of the Georgian Patriarchate on Wednesday.
“Any person, at the time of a trial, seeks for deliverance and consolation,” His Holiness said. “Today, when a new infection that has spread throughout the world threatens the life of the population, it is natural that parishioners would place special hopes in the Lord and be drawn to church.”
“For believers, spiritual food is just as important and necessary as physical food; therefore, it is impossible to close the doors of the churches, and they will be open for those who want to come to Church, to receive God’s grace and be spiritually strengthened,” His Holiness’ message reads.
There is presently a quarantine regime in Georgia, prohibiting gatherings of more than three people in public places.
"Given the current situation, I would like to address you, our spiritual children, and give you the following advice: Follow the appropriate instructions; observe the established distance while near to other people, including in church or in the church yard; during the Divine Liturgy (and other services), only clergymen should remain in the church, while a limited number of parishioners are allowed to join them in large cathedrals, though it is generally recommended that parishioners remain in the church yard,” the statement reads.
Clergy may also serve the Liturgy in the courtyard of their church. The elderly and sick are especially advised to stay at home.
The message also emphasizes that “celebrating the services is an integral duty of the priesthood for the clergy and is of paramount importance for the entire nation.”
His Holiness and the Georgian Church have addressed the topic of the coronavirus several times before. In early February, the Patriarch spoke of it as a trial, given by God to strengthen our faith and our prayer life.
A month later, His Holiness revealed that he had been granted a spiritual vision, which he understood to mean that “with the help of prayer and the blessing of the Lord, we will be able to overcome this disease.”
In March, the Georgian Church called upon its faithful flock to increase its prayer life, and for clergy to bless their churches and the surrounding streets with holy water and ring the church bells every day.