The History of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary

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In Georgia, theological education starts from the 4th century. Churches and monasteries represented outstanding centers of enlightenment, as well. In the Middle Ages, particularly well-known were the cradles of education functioning in Tao-Klarjeti, Gelati, Iqalto, Gremi and Shiomghvime. Despite the times of hardship and economic austerity, educational institutions of Tbilisi and Telavi worked till the beginning of the 19th century. In 1817, a Russian Theological Seminary was founded in Tbilisi. It worked till 1917. After the restoration of the Autocephaly of the Apostolic Orthodox Church of Georgia, in the time of the tenures of the Catholicos-Patriarchs Kirion II and Leonide, profound work was carried out with the purpose of the foundation of a theological Seminary; however, in the February of 1921, under the circumstances of the renewed aggressive annexation of Georgia by Russia, when the Apostolic Orthodox Church of Georgia was declared an illegal organization, even a thought about the establishment of a theological institution was excluded. Only as late as the 14th of October 1963, with the blessing of His Holiness and Beatitude Eprem II, Catholiicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Pastoral Courses were founded in the town of Mtskheta, which in 1965 was altered into a theological Seminary. Until 1972, its Rector was Ilia Shiolashvili, Bishop of Shemokmedi, later, Metropolitan of Tskhum-Apkhaeti. Four students were admitted to the first year of the academic studies, subsequently, their number increased up to 10 in each of the years (three years of study, on the whole). In 1972, for a few months the Rector of the seminary was the Catholicos-Patriarch David V (Devdariani), from 1972 to 1977 – Metropolitan of Tsilkani Gaioz (Keratishvili), from 1978 to 1979 – Archbishop (at present – Metropolitan) Giorgi (Shalamberidze), from 1979 to 1980 – Archbishop Tadeoz (Ioramashvili), from 1980 to 1983 – Metropoitan David (Tchkadua), from 1984 to 1988 – Bishop of Tsilkani Zosime (Shioshvili).

In 1988, with the blessing of His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary was established. In its first year, the Academy opened its doors to 14 students. Also, the Theological Seminary, based in the town of Mtskheta, was unified with the Academy with its 30 students. The first Rector of the Academy and Seminary was Bishop of Tsilkani, at present, Metropolitan Zosime (Shioshvili). From 1989 to 1993, Protopresbyter Giorgi, at present, Metropolitan Iaone (Gamrekeli) fulfilled the obligations of the Rector. The years 1993-2003 is the tenure of Metropolitan Abraam (Garmelia) on this post. In the years 2004-2005, Metropolitan Theodor (Chuadze) fulfilled his obligations as the Rector. In the years from 2005 to 2009, the Rector of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary was His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. On the 23rd of October 2009, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze was appointed Rector of the Theological Academy and Seminary.

In 1993, a Theological Institute, comprising two Faculties – of Christian Anthropology and of Christian Art History and Theory – was founded within the Theological Academy. In 2005, the Faculty of Iconography, Restoration and Applied Art was added to them. In 2006, an Institute of Gardening and Ecology, and a High School of Church Singing and Hymn Study was established.