Peter I of Georgia
Our father among the saints Peter I of Georgia was the first catholicos of the Church of Georgia and led the Church during the latter part of the fifth century. He was called to lead the Georgian Orthodox Church by King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Kartli. St. Peter is commemorated on November 30.
The dates of Catholicos Peter birth and death are not known. According to the biography of King Vakhtang I Gorgasali, Peter was a student of St. Gregory the Theologian and met the king during a visit by King Vakhtang to Constantinople. They developed a close friendship. It was at this time that Vakhtang also met Samuel, Peter's successor.
After having returned to his own capital, King Vakhtang sent an envoy to Constantinople to find him a wife. He also requested that Bishop Peter be elevated as catholicos and that the priest Samuel be consecrated bishop. He asked that the patriarch hasten the arrival of Catholicos Peter and the twelve bishops who were accompanying him.
The patriarch of Constantinople approved the request of King Vakhtang to establish the rank of Catholicos of Georgia. However, since the Georgian Church was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch, Peter and Samuel were sent to the Antiochian patriarch himself to be elevated. The autocephaly of the Georgian Church was proclaimed upon the arrival of the holy fathers in Georgia.
Catholicos Peter ruled the Church according to the principle of autocephaly and established a form of self-rule that later helped to increase the authority of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church. The mutual respect and cooperation between Peter and King Vakhtang laid the foundations for harmonious relations in the future between secular and Church authorities in Georgia. Their example defined the authority of the Church and a national love and respect for the king.
When King Vakhtang fought the Persians in 502?(522), Catholicos Peter accompanied him. During the battle the king was wounded seriously. It is written that “the fatally wounded king Vakhtang summoned the Catholicos, the queen, his sons, and all the nobility.” Catholicos Peter heard the king’s last confession, granted the remission of his sins, presided at his funeral service, and blessed Vakhtang's son, the prince Dachi, to succeed him as king of Kartli.
The term of Catholicos Peter's office is uncertain. Sources concerning the period of St. Peter of Georgia's rule differ. The OCA/Pravoslavie,ru articles generally describe a period from about 460 to the first decade of the sixth century. The georgianweb.com list shows the combined tenure of both Catholicos Peter and Samuel covering 467 to 502. It should also be noted Gregory the Theologian lived during the middle of the fourth century.
Peter I of Georgia
Bishop of Mtskheta
|Catholicos of Georgia
- OCA: Hierarch Peter, First Catholicos of Georgia
- Holy Catholicoses Petre and Samoel
- List of the Katholicos-Patriarchs of Georgia