The Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church is one of the most ancient Christian Churches of the world. Georgia is considered to be a country alloted to the Most Holy Mother of God and the Holy Mother of God is the main protector of Georgia.
The Apostle Andrew the First-called went to preach in Georgia with the Holy Mother's Uncreated Icon. Together with Saint Andrew the Gospel was preached in Western Georgia by the Holy Apostle Simon the Canaanite who was then buried there near Sukhumi, in the village of Comani. The Georgian land also embraced another Holy Apostle - Saint Matthias. He preached in the Southwest of Georgia and was buried in Gonio, a village not far from Batumi.
In the 4th century Equal to the Apostles Saint Nino from Cappadocia spread Christianity in the Georgian Kingdom Iberia (Eastern Georgia). In 327 Christianity was adopted as the state religion by the King of Iberia Saint Mirian and Queen Saint Nana.
Saint George is a patron Saint of Georgia.
In the 5th century the first outstanding examples of Georgian and world hagiographic literature ('Life of Saint Nino' and 'Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik') were written.
Well-known centers of Christian culture were the Georgian Monastery in Sinai, Georgian monastery complex (Iveron) on Mount Athos (the well-known "Wonderworking Iberian Icon of the Mother of God" is located in this Monastery), Georgian churches in historic province Tao-Klarjeti (territory of Turkey since 16th century), Georgian Petritsoni Monastery in Backovo (Bulgaria), Bagrati Cathedral, Gelati Monastery and Academy, Ikalto Monastery and Academy, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, monastery in Martvili, monastery complex Davidgareja, etc.
Outstanding Georgian representatives of the Christian culture were: Evagrius Ponticus (Evagre Pontoeli. 4th century), Peter the Iberian (Petre Iberieli. 5th century), Euthimius the Athonite (Ekvtime Atoneli. 955-1028), Giorgi the Athonite (Giorgi Atoneli. 1009-1065), Arsen Ikaltoeli (11th century), Ephraim the Lesser (Ephrem Mtsire. 11th century), etc.
After the occupation and annexion of the Kartlian-Kakhetian Kingdom (Eastern Georgia) in 1801 by Tsarist Russia the Autocephalous status of the Georgian Church was abolished. This status was restored in 1917.
The Georgian Church is managed by the Holy Synod. The Holy Synod is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia. Since 1977 his Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II (born in 1932) is the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and Archibishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi.