RELIGION

Nowadays majority of the Georgian population practices Orthodox Christianity of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The structure of the population by religion shows the following (2014 population census): Orthodox Christian - 83%, Muslim - 11%, Armenian Apostolic - 3%, Catholic - 0.5%, Other - 2.5%.

Georgia is one of the oldest Christian countries: it is considered to be an appendage of Holy Virgin. Here Christianity was first preached by the Apostles Andrew and Simon Canaanite. According to the belief, the tomb of the latter is located in Western Georgia, by the Black Sea, in the ancient site of Nicopsia.

In the beginning of the 4th century AD, St. Nino of Cappadocia brought Christianity to Georgia. In the 30s (328) of the 4th century (337) during the reign of King Mirian the Christianity was declared the official religion.

Georgian Orthodox Church gained its autocephaly in the 5th century during the reign of Vakhtang Gorgasali. The Bible was also translated in Georgian in the 5th century. From around the 6th century the Church of Egrisi (Lasika) was headed by a metropolitan whose see was in Phases; he was a hierarch subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

In the latter half of the 9th century, the West Georgian Church broke away from the Constantinople and placed itself under the Catholicon with the see in Mtskheta. The Catholicon of Kartli was proclaimed the head of the Georgian Church, ranking as the sixth patriarch in the world’s pentarchy.

The Georgian Church has always played an important role in strengthening the national consciousness of the people. But at the same time religious fanaticism has always been alien to it. The church is tolerant to other confessions, and this has been attested by its peaceful coexistence with Catholic, Judean, Armenian-Gregorian, German-Lutheran and Muslim congregations. However, Georgian church has remained faithful to the Orthodox traditions.