ORTHODOXY AS AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF MODERN GREEK IDENTITY IN THE 1860S – 1910S (AN EXAMPLE OF THE GREEK CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS IN BATUM)
Abstract: A Georgian littoral city Batum, situated on the South-Eastern shores of the Black Sea, has had an interesting history in many respects. It was included in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. In 1878 Batum was reintegrated with Georgia (a part of the Russian Empire at that period). In the 1880s – 1910s it served as an industrially important city in the whole Russian Empire. At the same time, it was very colourful nationally and religiously. Greeks in Batum, one of its largest and oldest minorities, settled there in the 1850 and beyond. Batum’s Greeks were actively involved in all spheres of city life, especially in entrepreneurship, politics, culture and education. The Church of St. Nicholas was built in 1865 – 1871 by the local Greek flock. It is the first stone building and the first Christian monument which has survived up to now in Batum. The aim of the article is to present all aspects concerning the process of the building, from acquiring its permission to its completion. It is also underlined that the Church had mobilized and unified, on the one hand, the local Greeks and, on the other hand, the local Greeks with Greeks of Pontus and especially, of Trabzon. In the article a special emphasis is given to present the church as a centre of the Greek community. The article reveals that all successful Greeks of Batum were involved in activities initiated or organized by the church of St. Nicholas. It is evident that the church is the space that helps the Greeks of the diaspora to maintain such an important marker of identity as language. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (i. e. before the sovietization of Georgia) it was the Church that united the Greeks living in the non-Greek space and strengthened their perception of their national identity and desire to preserve it. All this was happening in harmony and there are no cases of confrontation with local church circles or structures. The church was the factor that spiritually united the population of Batum and the Pontus region within the framework of two different empires.
Authors: Tchkoidze, Eka
Source: Konštatínove listy, 2022, vol.: 15, issue: 1, pages: 97-108 (PDF file)
Keywords: GREEK IDENTITY, ORTHODOXY, BATUM, CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS, GEORGIA, RUSSIAN EMPIRE