Friday, January 27, 2006

Eastern churches

Meanwhile among the Julian-calendar Orthodox today is something of a triple crown: St Nino, who Christianised the country of Georgia (which makes the best wine in the world, Kindzmarauli — sorry, Italy); St Sava, the bishop who was the father of the independent Serbian Church (both countries use the Julian church calendar); and the leave-taking (отдание) of Theophany. С праздником!

So Georgia, which confusingly shares the ancient name of Iberia with Spain and Portugal (just like there’s a Spanish/Portuguese Galicia and a Ukrainian one), has been Christian since 330. Neighbouring Armenia (Hayastan) is the world’s first Christian country, beating the Roman Empire by a few years. So I reckon Georgia is the third nation to adopt Christianity officially.

Armenians are Oriental Orthodox (as are the Eritreans); Georgians Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox like the Russians. They speak completely different languages (Armenian is distantly related to English; Georgian not). Interestingly both the Armenian and Georgian patriarchs have the title Catholicos.

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