Patriarch Ilia II recently turned 80. (Photo: DFWatch.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — A large number of clerics from different Orthodox countries will start gathering in Tbilisi tomorrow to mark the 80-year jubilee of the Georgian Patriarch Illia II.

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople is among the guests arriving in Georgia to congratulate the patriarch on 35 years since inauguration and his 80th birthday.

The Serbian Patriarch will be the first to arrive in the evening of January 9. Also expected are the Metropolitan of Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and the Metropolitan of Bulgaria.

Representatives of other Orthodox churches will also come, headed by bishops.

A delegation will arrive from Russia as well, chaired by Metropolitan Hilarion, bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, accompanied by two other bishops.

Georgian Patriarchy will host the guests on January 10.

Georgian Patriarch Illia II marked his 80th birthday on January 4. A special event was organized for him at Tbilisi Concert Hall where politicians and other public figures congratulated him. He also received congratulations from the Georgian President and Prime Minister.

Illia II is a very popular person in Georgia. According to surveys of public attitudes, he has consistently remained on top of the list of most trusted people in the country. More than 90 percent of people say they trust him.