On 22-23 November 2019 Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University staff paid a visit in Istanbul, where held two important meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch His All-Holiness Bartholomew and the Georgian Catholics society at Ferichoe region (central region of Istanbul).
On 22 November Sabauni staff visited Georgian Catholics Sanctuary located in the central region of Istanbul (Ferichoe), where the family of Simon Zazadze, Paul, Paulina and Natali Zezadze hosted us. In the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Paul thanked the Georgian delegation for their interest and visit at the Georgian sanctuary. He provided short history of the sanctuary and the church of Notre Dame de Lourdes, he spoke about the past difficulties and current challenges. “My sisters and myself, we are very happy that we have the honor to continue the great work of our grand-father, Pavle Zazadze and Father, Simon Zazadze and take care on the treasure that left our ancestors here. My grand-father and my father had huge work to protect the library until now, the library where are kept thousands of books and manuscripts in several languages. Today we cooperate with the Georgian state and National Library of Georgian Parliament, we are working on the digitalization of the books and soon those books will be available online for the wide audience. I think it is really good job and present for the Georgian people”. While speaking about the history he mentioned how difficulties had his father and grand father to keep some manuscripts safety. “Besides all the difficulties, we have kept this treasure safety and this is all due to the patronage of the Virgin Mary, we always feel her glory and bless” - mentioned Paul.
Prof. Vaja Vardidze, rector of Sabauni thanked the hosts for their time and the protection of the Georgian sanctuary during the years the Zazadze’s family did. “I have had an honor to visit Georgian sanctuary several times and meet with Mr. Simon Zazadze. I have to confess that all the time I come here, I always have a sense of pride and admiration, as I feel a great work of our ancestors. It is a great pleasure to visit and get to know the traces of immediate ancestors. Thank you very much for this flawless work and dedication you are doing for the Georgian people. I would like to express our readiness and support in your endeavors. We will be happy to host you at our University and our country”-said the rector.
Thankful words were said towards the Zazadze’s family from Mons. Giuseppe Pasotto, the founder of Sabauni and the apostolic administrator of Latin Catholics in Caucasus and father Gabriele Bragantini, who visit often the Church of Notre Dame de Lourd and serve the Holy Mass (11 February each year).
Sabauni staff had an opportunity to visit Library where the thousands of books and manuscripts are kept in Georgian, French, Italian, Greek, Latin, Slavic, Turkish and other languages (17 languages ). Among them, there are the first Georgian Grammar published in 1670 in Rome by catholic priest, Francisco Maria Maggio and dictionary of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani (Manuscript). Here are also the XIX, XX century’s Georgian newspapers and periodic published in France and in Georgia. Among the valuable books, there are the books published in the printing house of the sanctuary (since 1870).
After the archive, we have visited the Church of Notre Dame of Lourdes and Monastery. At the end of the meeting, holy mass dedicated to St. George’s feast was celebrated by Msgr. Giuseppe Pasotto.
Here are the brief History of the Sanctuary and Monastery:
The Founder of the Church, Catholic priest Petre Kharischirashvili was born in 1818 in Akhaltshikhe. 24 years old he was consecrated as a priest in St-Petersburg. He was teaching at the Kutaisi Theological Seminary. In 1857 he went abroad to pray, praying in the holy places of Jerusalem, Italy. He came to Istanbul in 1859 and began caring for the church. The same year he received the Pope's permission to establish a Georgian Catholic community in Istanbul. It was impossible to have the legal right without the monastic place. According to the archives a nobleman had donated 1230 arable land to the community for the construction of an apartment and a chapel. Then Father Peter and his disciples bought more than three times more land. In a will written by Father Peter in 1863, it is known that the land of the Tabernacle, the chapel, the immovable property, was the property of all members of the Catholic parish after his death.
In the 1861 father Peter laid the foundation for St. Mary's Church and sanctuary, where he died on October 9, 1890. His heart is still stored in special alcohol cans. He is buried inside the church. Father Petre Kharischirashvili has ordained a liturgy in Georgian at the Georgian Catholic Church in Istanbul.
In 1869-1871 he founded a convent of mothers and fathers, Georgian-French, Georgian-Greek women's and boys' schools, and a Georgian printing house. In addition to the religious subjects, the school taught medicine, pharmaceutical work, foreign languages and pedadogy. Prominent Georgian scientists and writers Mikheil Tamarashvili, Mikheil Tarkhnishvili, Ivane Gvaramadze, Benedicte Vardidze and others were brought up in this school.
The Ferricope Georgian Reserve was not only a religious institution but also a large cultural and educational center. In 1911 a Georgian club was established here, where meetings and evenings were held, with at least 150 Georgians attending each meeting. The abode of Fericheo was the home of the Georgians, a reliable refuge. From 1921 many Georgians who had been persecuted by the Bolsheviks had fled Georgia before arriving in France. The members of the First Government of the Independent Republic of Georgia, chaired by Noe Zhordania, had lived here for three months.
Father and son Pavle and Simon Zazadze have greatly appreciated the care of the Sanctuary. Pavle Zazadze was originally from Akhaltsikhe, from the village of Ude. In 1913, priest Benedict Vardidze took him to Istanbul to study as a clergyman at the Ferricoye Monastery School. But soon World War I broke out and life got mixed up. Many Georgian students went to Germany to study, but Paul stayed in Istanbul, studying commerce and becoming a celebrity. In 1966, when the monastery was emptied and the last nun died, Pavle Zazadze became the patron of the Georgians Sanctuary at Ferrichoe, he even went to church deeply elderly and cared for this holy place. After his death - since 1989, his son Simon Zazadze has continued this noble cause under his father. At present, the work of the ancestors is led by Paul Zazadze’s, son of Simon, along with his sisters, Paulina and Natalie Zazadze.