Sunday, July 10, 2011

St. Cyrion the New Martyr of Mtskheta

Joyous feast! Today we commemorate Catholicos-Patriarch St. Cyrion (or Kirion) II of Mtskheta and All Georgia. St. Cyrion was the first catholicos-patriarch to be enthroned following the restoration of the Georgian Orthodox Church's autocephaly in 1917. Born in Russian-occupied Georgia, St. Cyrion undertook theological studies there and in Ukraine and gradually rose until he was consecrated to the episcopacy.

Due to the Saint's strong support for the restoration of the Georgian Orthodox Church's independence the imperial government had him transferred to new eparchies frequently, with the result that he shepherded flocks in what today are Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Abkhazia, and Belarus between his consecration in 1901 and the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917.

Following the February Revolution the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church in Georgia moved quickly to proclaim the restoration of the Georgian Orthodox Church's autocephaly and by popular demand St. Cyrion, then Archbishop of Polotsk, returned to Georgia to be elected and enthroned as catholicos-patriarch in Mtskheta. In 1918 Georgia declared its independence in the midst of the great political upheavals and conflicts engulfing the former Russian Empire.

In the same year that Georgia regained its independence St. Cyrion was found murdered in his residence near Mtskheta, having served as patriarch for less than a year. Due to Georgia's annexation by the Soviet Union it wasn't until 2002 that the Georgian Orthodox Church glorified the passion-bearing patriarch as a saint. More on St. Cyrion's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

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