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M.Ghaghanidze:Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani and Western Christianity

1. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani (1658-1725), a Georgian nobleman, statesman and political figure, writer and scholar, whose religious environment was predominantly Eastern Christian (although, pro-Catholic tendencies were not alien in the royal court and among the noblemen), associated his confessional choice with the Catholic Church and his political choice with Catholic Europe. Orbeliani confesses Catholicism in Georgia and afterwards, passing through France, travels to Rome, where he meets the high representatives of the Roman Curia, including Pope Clement XI.

2. When young, Orbeliani took part in developing the Georgian version of the Roman Catholic Catechism. At 1680s the Caholic Cathecism was translated in Georgian by Giustino of Livorno, and Orbealiani helped him in his work. Some years later we can see, that his autographic collection, which he had with him in Europe and later brought to Georgia, also includes such a doctrinal manual called ‘The Gates of Paradise’, which represents to Georgian readers the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Catholic Church and also the liturgical practice of the Church. Presently it is difficult to determine Orbeliani’s original contribution to the creation of this book. Later three revised versions of ‘The Gates of Paradise’ were developed (or four versions according to as yet unconfirmed assumption), which were cleansed from the signs of Catholic confession by its editors (Nikoloz Orbeliani, Prince Vakhushti, Nikoloz Chachikashvili and, maybe, Mzechabuk Orbeliani) .

3. It is common that the Roman Church views the Pope as the successor of Saint Peter, who, on his part, is believed to be the head of the Apostles. According to the view of the Eastern Church, the heads of the Apostles are Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In his homilies delivered in the Davitgareja Monastery, Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani always referred only to Saint Peter as to the head of the Apostles. The texts were uttered before Orbeliani publicly declared himself a Catholic. This fact, as well as each similar case, once again points to Orbeliani’s earlier confessional inclinations.

4. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani’s ‘Georgian Lexicon’, which is the earliest of the surviving Georgian explanatory dictionaries and which is conserved in different manuscript versions, includes as a separate entry a definition and reasoning on Purgatory. The latter, as one part of the etarnal life, is not recognized in the Eastern Christian Teaching. Consequently, Sulkhan-Saba’s recognition of Purgatory is another evidence of his confessional orientation. This entry had negative repercussions among the outstanding Georgian followers of Eastern Christianity.

5. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani’s close relationship with the Holy See is also reflected in his correspondence, conserved in Rome, represented by two surviving letters which are: that of Orbeliani addressed to Pope Clement XI, dating to 1709, and Clement XI’s letter and blessings to Orbeliani, dating to 1715. 

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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