Renowned choralist Nana Peradze chants His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II’s beautiful composition “Kyrie Eleison” (Lord Have Mercy).
The head of the Orthodox Church in Georgia since 1977, His Holiness has composed several hymns, many poems, and has played an active role in the increase in Georgia’s post-communism population following his 2007 announcement that he would personally baptize any new infants born to Georgian families with two or more children.
The Patriarch is widely considered the most morally authoritative and honorable public figure in Georgia. In the wake of deepening popular cynicism toward corrupt politicians and ethical scandals, in 2007 His Holiness expressed his support from the pulpit for the adaption of constitutional monarchy and a restoration of the ancient royal House of Bagrationi. This caught the Saakashvili administration off-guard and they have not dismissed or ridiculed the Patriarch’s comments.
During the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war which saw Russian ground troops invade the country, the Patriarch delivered food and medical supplies to the besieged city of Gori and appealed to Russian Church leaders to intervene with Moscow civil authorities to put an end to the carnage. He attended Russian Patriarch Alexei II’s funeral in December 2008 prior to meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev. Ilia II has since worked extensively to heal relations between Georgia, Russia, and the disputed territory of Abkhazia, which is currently recognized internationally as an autonomous republic within Georgia but which Russia considers independent.