Site icon Iveron Icon Orthodox Church

29th of March. Saint Ambrosi the Confessor, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia (†1927)

Saint Ambrosi the Confessor, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia (†1927)

Saint Ambrosi the Confessor

Memory 16 (29) March

Saint Ambrosi the Confessor, ( Besarion Khelaia ) was born in 1861. He started his education at the theological school in Samegrelo and later graduated from the Tbilisi Seminary in 1885, the same year he was ordained as a priest. For eight years, he served in Sokhumi, northwest Georgia, while also teaching the Georgian language and leading philanthropic efforts. After becoming a widower in 1896, he joined the Kazan Theological Academy in 1897.

In Kazan, Fr. Ambrosi was deeply involved in both the cultural scene and the Georgian independence movement. He conducted historical research on Georgia, producing essays including a notable one on the Christian-Muslim conflict in the region, which led to a recommendation to pursue a master’s degree.

By 1901, after completing his studies and becoming a monk, Fr. Ambrosi returned to Georgia to advocate for the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church. This dedication led to his exile to Russia in 1905 as punishment. Upon his return, he was made an archimandrite and took charge of Chelishi Monastery, revitalizing it as a theological center and discovering an ancient gospel manuscript.

Later, St. Ambrosi joined the Tbilisi Synodal Council and became abbot of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Tbilisi. However, in 1908, he faced accusations and exile, only to be acquitted in 1910. Rejoining the struggle for Georgian Church autocephaly, he played a pivotal role in its 1917 declaration and became the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia in 1921.

Under Soviet rule, St. Ambrosi and the Church faced severe persecution, with many churches destroyed and clergy executed. In 1922, he famously defended the Georgian Church at the Genoa Conference, leading to his arrest by the Bolsheviks. He remained a staunch critic of the government, emphasizing the importance of faith even under persecution.

Sentenced to nearly eight years in prison, St. Ambrosi’s health deteriorated, and he passed away in 1927. In 1995, the Georgian Church canonized him as St. Ambrosi the Confessor, celebrating his contributions to the Church and national identity. His legacy includes his fervent defense of faith and national independence, encapsulated in his final words to his persecutors about his soul, heart, and flesh.


Exit mobile version