Western orientation of the Georgian Church in the Middle Ages

Western orientation of the Georgian Church in the Middle Ages

Greatly celebrated Rome, Europe and the whole West preaches on your merits Blessed Hilarion and rejoices in your commemoration day, worty

(Old Georgian hymn of St. Hilarion Georgian)

In the articleI mainly discuss lesser-known sources (Simeon Pgdzahankeli, Heiton, Alberich, the annals of the Augustinian monastery …), therefore, the reader will see a more varied, interesting and unexpected information.

First of all, I will discuss the Latin religious beliefs of the great teacher of the Georgian Church – George Mtatsmindeli because some researchers try to hide this.

We will not talk much here about the well-known fact that George himself proclaimed the Church of Rome to be the most faithful defender of the apostolic doctrines before the Byzantine emperor.

While the Greeks and Latins were arguing about the descent of the Holy Spirit, George translated into Georgian – “The Symbol of Athanasius”, where the Holy Spirit was considered to come from the Son, i.e. the Latin pneumatological formula was described – ,,The Holy Spirit from the Father and from the Son”.

If this doctrine of the Catholic Church was a heresy for George, obviously he would have removed this passage from the text, as did the anti-Catholic editors of his translation.

In fact, the great father of the Georgian Church believed in the doctrine of the Catholic Church about the descent of the Holy Spirit not only from the Father but also from the Son.

It is symptomatic that the struggle with this translation of Giorgi began in the 18-19th century.

The 12th-century A65 manuscript of the “Symbol of Athanasius” – George’s translation – “and from the Son” was still written, but this place has been removed by the later editor (162), This later editor was anti-Catholic, so he tried to erase traces of this doctrine in the text.

In another Georgian manuscript of the symbol of Athanasius, the 19th-century anti-Catholic editor made a note with the translation of Giorgi Mtatsmindeli – “and from the son” – “not from the son!”.

If in George’s oldest, 11th-century manuscripts it says “and from the Son” (A584,245r. Jer.151,45r), all other manuscripts of the 18th-19th centuries have already been removed this place in the text, at the same time the Pope was removed from the Georgian diptychs of the 13th-14th centuries …

After all we can conclude the following: During the unity and strength of the Georgian state, when the Georgian Fathers translated many theological literatures, had numerous theological centers (the Maghalashvili Gospel inscription speaks of seven such schools in one diocese), the Georgian Church had its own position on the Church of Rome, but after the political and cultural fall, Influenced first by Greek and especially Russian anti-Catholic propaganda, Georgia rejected the historic choice of its best clergy of the Church – unity with the Catholic Church.

At the beginning of its relations with Georgia, Russia started struggle with the Catholic missionaries in Georgia, the Russian ambassador – Zakharev, started anti-Catholic propaganda, and after the conquest of Georgia, Russia expelled the Catholic missionaries from Georgia, because Russia’s goal was and is the ecclesiastical isolation of Georgia.

Simeon Pghdzahankeli (probably Simeon, the Armenian translator of Petritsi’s philosophical works), a prominent Armenian priest of the 13th-century Georgian Church, who preached Diophysitism in Armenia, In the antimonophysical work created around 1213, he considered it the primary crime of the Armenian Monophysite Church to have severed ties with the five great apostolic churches (Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem).

(Ոչ սու ասում. Չորրորդին, վասն զի ի Հինդ ենհամաշխարհական և առաՔելական եկեղեն դե ացն՝ iոար են ևԳունին ձեռնադրութիւնն Վ.ասն զիԼանցաոր և եղեն աւանդութեանց Նոցին և

յանդիմանին չիւրեանց ղըՐոյն, զոր օր ընդ օրէ ընթանուն։ Լասն զի Գրիգոր Պարթևն Հայոց իԿեսարի Կապադոկացւոցն էառ զձևսՆադրու թիւն և զմեռոնն…).

Thus, the Georgian Church considers isolationism to be a great crime for the universal Church of Christ, that is why the Georgian priests of Athon, who were the main authorities of the Georgian Church, recognized the supremacy of the Pope, which infuriated the Greeks.

Greek monk – Gregory Icodomopoulos’s letter to Archbishop Dimitrios of Ohrid 1217 – year:

“The Georgians did not oppose the Latins and disgracefully obeyed them. They voluntarily went to Thessalonik with the Cardinal, obeyed the Pope’s will and performed a symbolic gesture – they (Latin and Georgian) put their hands on each other and thus separated themselves from the Greeks.”

Another great priest of the Georgian Church, Arsen Safareli, had earlier rebuked the Armenians for severing ties with the only four great patriarchates – Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Jerusalem, because he believed that the Patriarch of Antioch was a heretic, if the Pope was considered a heretic, the Georgian Church could have removed him from the diptych as he had before the Patriarch of Antioch, but the Church Fathers in Georgia, like George Mtatsmindeli, thought that the Church of Rome was the greatest defender of the apostolic doctrine. Therefore, even in official texts such as royal documents, unlike the Greeks, the Georgians did not remove the Pope from the diptych, as we can see in the 1189 document of Queen Tamar, this position in Georgia in the time of Tamar was reflected in the work of Simeon Pghdzahankeli, where he considers isolationism to be the unforgivable crim.

The works of the Armenian Catholic monk Heiton were very popular in Europe in the 14th century, he gave a lot of advice to the Pope on Eastern issues, interestingly, in one of them he says that Georgians have the right faith.

Simeon is a good example of the attitude of the Georgian Church towards the Church of Rome – he speaks of the need for union with the five great Apostolic Churches, including the Church of Rome, another Armenian priest, Catholic Heyton, is a good example of the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Georgian Church, because this Catholic monk, like the Catholic Church, believes that Georgians have the right faith.

But relations between the Catholic and Georgian Churches were not just relations between individuals.

In the 13th century, Alberich notes that Cardinal Pelagius sent apostles to “the land of the Georgians, who are Catholics” (Howorth, 1889: 362).

In a previous letter, we quoted Pope Honorius III’s 1220s epistle from the annals of the Augustinian convent in Bedfordshire, in which the pope considered Georgians to be Catholics.

The special value of this excellent source is that here not a separate author speaks about the Catholicism of the Georgians, but the head of the Catholic Church himself, In addition, there are many documents of Georgian Patriarchs and Kings of this period, where the pope has not been removed from the diptych, therefore, the spiritual connection between the Catholic and Georgian Churches was official.

Beka Chichinadze

In the photo – an excerpt from the translation of Giorgi Mtatsmindeli, where it is said, that the Holy Spirit also comes from the Son, and in the corner there is an anti-Catholic inscription of the later period, which says, that the Holy Spirit does not come from the Son.