Abkhazia Part 7 - History of Christianity in Abkhazia
Serious documentary Film about two thousand years of Christianity appeared in Abkhazia.
Movie shot with the blessing of Archimandrite Dorofei (Dbar) - Chairman of the Board of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia - and with the blessing of priesthood Andrew (Ampar) - Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot.
The film's director Sergei Yazvinsky; Operators film by Sergei Yazvinsky and Vyacheslav Ivanov, Project Managers: Tengiz Tarbes and Herman Marshania.
History of Christianity in Abkhazia
Faith - a unique feature of human nature, the most important part of our worldview. Endless, a powerful source of faith pervades all peoples of the world, but each source has its origin.
Christianity came to Abkhazia in the first century AD with the two disciples of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Andrew and Simon the Zealot. Later, Jerusalem monk Epiphanius, studied the route, which was the apostle Andrew, repeat it.
In his work, Epiphanius writes: Simon and Andrew came to Alanya and city Fust, and, having done many mighty works there, and learn a lot, went to Abazgs, and, entering into the great Sebastopolis, taught the word of God. Andrew, leaving Simon went with the disciples in Zikiyu.
Preaching in Sebastopolis now Sukhum, Simon the Zealot caused indignation chief of the garrison. Apostle from prosecution in hiding in the cave grotto in Anakopii - New Athos. There he lived, preached, and first began to baptize the locals, the ancestors of the Abkhazians. There is the legend he accepts martyrdom at the hands of Roman legionaries.
Epiphanius reports that located the tomb of St. Simon the Zealot is Nikopsia - the city, located in the territory between the modern New Athos and Anapa (it was an old fortress called Anakopiya). In the IX - X centuries at the burial site of Simon the Canaanite temples were raised. Cave in which the apostle prayed there to this day, as a place of worship for many people.
Some Byzantine sources report that Sebastopolis (modern Sukhumi) preached and died Apostle Matthew - he was one of the seventy disciples of Jesus Christ. Penetration of Christianity in Abkhazia continued during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, who persecuted Christians fiercely. Here, on the outskirts of the empire, the Roman authorities deported disagreeable followers of Christ preachers, soldiers and officials. Among them were soldiers of the Christian Arent and his six brothers who fell into disgrace by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice. Brothers survived torture has denied the faith, and were sent to Pitiunt (modern Pitsunda).
It is known that the two are buried in Pitiunt now Pitsunda city, and one in Ziganise, now the village Gudava. Church sources say, and the fact that the great teacher of the Church, St. John Chrysostom, in 407, he was exiled to Pitiunt, on the way there, he died in the village of Kamala, according to one version, near Sukhumi. Later, his relics transported to Constantinople.
There is information about the reference to Abkhazia holy Martyr Eugenia Trebizond with colleagues, Antioch Partiarha, heretic Peter Gannofesa and commander since Justinian the Great - Bess. There may have been others, but their names have not reached us.
This is the time of origin of the first Christian communities in Abkhazia. At the beginning of IV century Pitiunt formed parish, led by Bishop Safronov. Another bishop Pitiuntsky, Stratofil, in 325, he participated in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, his name is mentioned in the lists of the number of three hundred and eighteen bishops of the then Christian world. Pitsynda bishop - the oldest Christian communities in the Caucasus, while the subordinate chapter Pont Church, Archbishop Kessarii Cappadocia. In the V century Sebastopolis raises another Christian community, led by the Bishop Kerkoniem, which was on the list of the Fourth Ecumenical Council.
The earliest Christian church in Abkhazia are Pitsunda IV to VII century there erected seven churches. It is from here - from Pitsunda - Christ's teachings began to spread inland. Christianization Abkhazian tribes ended in the middle of the sixth century, the Byzantine emperor Justinian the Great. Byzantine historian Procopius Cesarean wrote about this in his book "The War of the Goths", "when reigning emperor Justinian, all relationships have Abazgs doomed in milder form, they accepted the Christian faith. At the same time - writes Procopius - Emperor Justinian built the Church of the Virgin in Abazgs, and assigning to them the priests, made sure that they took the whole Christian life. "
Created Abkhaz diocese, with the department in Sebastopolis (Sukhumi). Abkhazian Patriarch of Constantinople Archbishop subject. In addition, the Emperor Justinian in Constantinople established a special school, where children are given the Abkhazian church education. By this time Pitsunda plays the main Christian center of Abkhazia, relay passed Sebastopolis. To VII century in the Abkhaz diocese includes Tsentripskaya, Pitsundskaya, Anacopia, Sebastopolskaya, Tsebelda and Gainosskaya episcopal chair. Each bishop has a cathedral church, and in the list of the Diocese of the Church of Constantinople, the Abkhazian diocese is listed under thirty fourth. Student of the famous Byzantine theologian Maximus the Confessor, St. Anastasia - a priest from Rome - VII in the same century wrote about Abkhazia, a country Christ-Abazgs, but of its rulers, as Christ-leader.
In VIII century formed the Abkhazian kingdom, and there is a need for their own patriarch for the enthronement of the Abkhazian rulers. Is necessary to achieve its autocephalous Church, but to get it from Constantinople impossible. Abkhazian rulers then sent an embassy in Antioch, then independent of Byzantium. Patriarch Macarius of Antioch describes this event as "David - the king of Abkhazia - sent to Antioch to ordain bishops in many individuals, but on the way they were attacked by bandits, robbed and killed all the gifts, except only two, who escaped from the robbers came to Antioch and informed the Patriarch about befallen their grief. They also reported that their country is suffering greatly from the lack of such a person who would be ordained bishops for Abkhazia. "
Patriarch of Antioch Council convenes at which a decision on the ordination to the Abkhaz self Catholicos authorized to ordain bishops for their own people, they get John - the first Catholicos of Abkhazia. This event marks the beginning of flowering of Christianity in Abkhazia. Henceforth Abkhazian kings built temples, which today is a unique monument of Christian architecture. Architectural gem - Mokvsky Temple - was built Abkhazian king Leon third. Bediysky Cathedral was built in the time of King Bagrat III, Temple Kumurdo on the border with Armenia, Leon builds the same third.
Lyhninsky, Bzybsky, Pitsundsky, Mokvsky, Anacopia Temples are the best Abkhaz architectural monuments, formed on the basis of the Byzantine tradition. Since that time, worship in the temple are conducted in Greek and Abkhaz. Unfortunately, we have not reached the liturgical books of the time, however, preserved evidence of IX century, has come down to us from the life story of St. Cyril - educator Slavs - he was summoned to Venice's Cathedral, and asked to explain on what basis it makes writing and translating books for Slavic people.
Cyril, defending his innocence, saying that there are Christian people who serve God in their own language, and have for this book. Among these were his people and Abkhazians, in addition, it is known that the Abkhazian kings corresponded with Ecumenical Patriarch Nicholas the Mystic. No doubt, while the Abkhaz already had its own religious literature, which was lost during the decline and ruin of Christian culture.
At the end of X century, formed a joint Abkhaz-Kartvelian State in which the gradually increasing role Kartvels and Georgian church culture. Begin the dark ages in the history of Christianity in Abkhazia information about church life in this period are sketchy. In 1390, at the altar erected Pitsundsky Catholicos Arseny. He, like all of his receivers, was a native of West Georgia.
In 1454 the Turkish fleet landed off the coast Sebastopolis, the Turks captured the city and renamed it in Sukhum-Kale. Christianity gradually supplanted by Islam, and the department head of the Abkhazian Church moved from Pitsunda to Kutaisi. Several centuries in Abkhazia will be neither their bishops or existing parishes - Turks burn and loot the empty Christian churches.
In the mid-seventeenth century Patriarch Macarius of Antioch on his way to Moscow, passing Abkhazia. Preserved description of his journey. Abkhazian sovereign prince came to Macarius and asked to ordain a bishop for his people. Patriarch responds to the request and ordained bishop for Abkhazia. In 1795, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra dies last Catholicos of Abkhazia Maxim second, and with the Department of the Abkhazian Church Pitsunda ceases to exist.
In the late eighteenth century, the Caucasus is becoming a battleground, first Russian-Turkish, and later the Caucasian war scorch the Black Sea coast. Church life is almost paralyzed. In Abkhazia, the current at the time, only three of the Temple: Pitsundsky, Lyhnensky and Ilori.
Revival of church life begins only after the entry of Abkhazia into the Russian Empire in 1810, and in 1851 created Abkhaz diocese in the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1869, the management of the Abkhaz diocese entrusted Immeretinskomu Bishop Gabriel, who has done much to revive Christianity in Abkhazia, it opens up new congregations and baptized Abkhazians. Society restoration of Orthodox Christianity in the Caucasus build temples in several Abkhaz villages, there are the first representatives of the Abkhaz clergy.
In 1875, Russian monks from Mount Athos Greek commence construction of the monastery of the Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot in the town Ptsirtsha. In 1888, the monastery is being built attends Russian Emperor Alexander III. The walls of the main cathedral of the monastery, dedicated to St. Panteleimon, covered with beautiful paintings that have survived to this day. By the end of the century monastery fully completed, it becomes one of the largest religious centers on the Black Sea coast.
In 1885, the Abkhaz diocese gets the name of Sukhumi and it will last until 1917. At this time in Abkhazia is an active religious activity: open and restored temples, translated and published liturgical and religious literature, the construction of the largest monasteries - the two men in the New Athos and Dranda, and two women, in Kamani and WIOC. The monastery are parochial schools, there are priests Abkhazians. By 1917, the territory of Abkhazia are over sixty Abkhazian church groups.
As a result of the revolution in 1917, formed the Georgian Democratic Republic, followed by the Georgian Church split from the Russian Orthodox Church, and declares its independence. It will exist in the status and the unrecognized separatist church about twenty-six years. In 1918, Abkhazia is under the occupation of the Georgian Mensheviks, and the non-canonical Georgian church creates Sukhumi-Abkhazian diocese.
The coming to power of the Bolsheviks a tragic impact on the life of the Church - priests deported and killed, and the temples and monasteries are closed. In 1943, the Russian Church recognizes autocephaly of the Georgian Church and all the churches on the territory of Abkhazia, united in the Sukhumi-Abkhazian diocese transferred to its administration. Thus, the Abkhaz Church is a part of Georgia in 1943.
Georgian-Abkhazian war was an ordeal for the Abkhaz people. At this time, all the Georgian clergy leave Abkhazia, there are only four priests: Fr Vissarion serves Gudauta Church, the priest is in the Gagra Paul Temple abbot Vitali in Sukhumi Cathedral, and is rector Archpriest Peter Lyhninskogo Temple. In 1998 he created the diocesan council of the Sukhumi-Abkhazian diocese, adopt a charter. In the postwar years there has been more than a decade of Abkhaz clergy, they will be a slow and difficult process of revival of the Temples and the return of people to the bosom of the Orthodox Church.
In 1994 he was called to New Athos monastery, and in 2001 Kamansky. In 2000, the publishing house has its origins Abkhaz diocese "Stratofil", which published monographs on the history of the Abkhazian Church, religious literature and children's Bible in the Abkhaz language. In 2002 opens Athos religious school, and in 2003, when school starts Regents School. In the temple worship resumed in the Abkhaz language.
Today the territory of Abkhazia, of more than one hundred and fifty of the Temples, Temples and operates fifteen two male monastery, and the clergy has fifteen people. Despite all the efforts, the Abkhazian Church continues to be a complex and paradoxical situation. Population asks for priests in the temple, but they are missing out on all the parishes. This is due to the fact that since 1993, Abkhazia is not a bishop who would ordain the necessary number of clerics. Russian Orthodox Church to get help Abkhazia church education and ordain candidates to the priesthood, but the Georgian church does not want to address the issue of the Abkhazian Church and the Russian Church can not actively take part in this, for it recognizes Abkhazia canonical part of the Georgian church.
Abkhazian clergy do not allow to ask for help to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who can solve the urgent question of autocephaly to the Abkhaz church. On this occasion, the fifteenth in May 2011 in New Athos held ecclesiastical assembly of the people, he initiated Archimandrite Dorofei Dbar and Fr Andrew Ampar, ierodiakon David Sarsaniya Athos monastery and the monks.
By decision of the Assembly was established Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia with faculty in Anakopia. Metropolitan task - to achieve the ordination of Bishop Abkhazian and gradually transform into an independent metropolitan Abkhaz Orthodox Church. Despite the difficulties and paradoxes of modern life, the Abkhazian Church revived, temples are full members, they conducted the service, and along with Russian and Greek liturgical language, under the arches of the Abkhaz language sounds. In many of the clergy, because people do not cease to be born and die, and as a thousand years ago, they need the Faith, Hope and Love.
Father Dorotheus (Dbar), Elena Factory, Nina Yazvinskaya Sergei Yazvinsky, Hope Churyumov.
Music: KATTOO, Klaus Wiese, Voyager Recordings, Oophoi & Klaus Wiese & Tau Ceti, Dragoslav Pavte Aksentijevich, Ethnographic Male Choir of Abkhazia.
Father Dorotheus (Dbar), Tengiz Tarba Herman Marshania.
Transportation during the filming:
Daur Zantaria, Alkhas Jenny.
It was inspired by the Blessed One, the President of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia Archimandrite Dorofei (Dbar) and abbot of the monastery of the Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot Hieromonk Andrew (Ampar). Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia in 2012.