Wednesday, June 20, 2007


This will be a brief post. When I have more time, I'll try to elaborate.

We arrived at Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral at 8 am for the 9 am Patriarchal liturgy. Fr. Theodore is a hierodeacon and he serves at the cathedral. The cathedral is simply magnificent. It stretches 100 meters above and below ground. In addition to the main cavernous cathedral, there are at least 11 other churches within the same building. It was built very recently (less than a decade ago) and while it has the feeling of an ancient church, as it should, there many modern conveniences hidden in the structure, such as air conditioning and speakers. The Liturgy lasted 4.5 hours, which is relatively short considering that there were two ordinations (deacon and priest). By Fr. Theodore's count, there were 6 bishops (including Patriarch Ilia), 30 priests, 16 deacons, and dozens of acolytes serving in the altar.

After Liturgy, we had lunch with both Giorgis and Giorgi the elder's friend, Irma. There we feasted on khinkali, Georgian style dumplings, and drank the local beer. Afterwards, Giorgi the elder invited Derek, Giorgi D, and me to the Turkish Baths. A bit of background: The "Tbili" of Tbilisi means warm, which comes from the hot springs found in the old part of the city. It was because of these hot springs that King Vakhtang Gorgasali decided to build the city where he did. The water is sulfuric and is believed to have healing properties. At the baths, the four of us had a private bath that had a pool of warm water and a shower nearby. After taking a dip in the waters, we each had our "bath" which consisted of having a "masseur" first scrub my skin so hard that several layers came off, next lather me with soap and scrub some more, and finally wash my hair with a soap balloon and douse me with the naturally warm water. I've never been so clean in my life.

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