The Georgian Orthodox Church is having an eventful year: priests have been dispensing blessings from a helicopter, visiting the US State Department and debating a poison conspiracy. Most notably, Patriarch Ilia II, the aging Church leader and Georgia’s most beloved public figure, has appointed a standby amidst a growing rivalry for his succession.
But odd things first. A few weeks ago, several priests went whizzing around in a state border-police helicopter, dispensing blessings and candies from the sky. The airborne priests whirled above Georgia’s eastern Kvareli region in what appeared to be an unauthorized trip. It later transpired that local priests occasionally go for such rides to ward off evil.
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