Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15.13). As a follower of Jesus, Grigol Paradze did exactly that. Father Paradze’s death for others was his response to the challenges of his moment. He had an ordinary (or perhaps extraordinary) life in academia when the ethical challenges of history were presented to him. He chose to act for others, oppressed Jews and fellow prisoners. When our ordinary activities are shaken by moments of ethical challenge, what will we choose? Will we live to serve ourselves or to give our lives in some way to some degree for others?
Grigol Peradze (1899-1942)
Grigol Peradze was born in a village of eastern Georgia, son of an Orthodox Christian priest. Following in his father’s footsteps he graduated from Tbilisi Theological Seminary. Then while he was studying at Tbilisi State University, the Soviet Union occupied Georgia. Peradze fled to Germany where he finished his schooling.
In 1931 Peradze became a monk and then was ordained as a priest at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in London. He then founded a Georgian St. Nino Orthodox Church in Paris, named after the 4th Century teenage girl who brought Christianity to Georgia. He also became part of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at Warsaw University in Poland. In his academic work he discovered and gathered many precious historical documents related to Georgian Orthodoxy that had been scattered across Europe and the Middle East. He was appointed to the rank of Archimandrite in 1934.
When the German army invaded Poland in 1939 he expressed solidarity with Jews who were targeted by the antisemitic policies of the Nazis. Details have been hard to uncover, but Gestapo evidence related to his arrest indicated that he was involved handling funds that were given to assist Jews in getting out of occupied Poland. His activities had brought him under suspicion by the Gestapo, and he was arrested May 4, 1942 for sheltering and aiding Jews and other targets of Nazi persecution.
Father Peradze was first sent to prison in Warsaw and later transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp. On December 6th a German officer at Auschwitz was killed. The Nazi camp officials made all the men in that part of the camp stand naked in the cold until the killer confessed. Peradze stepped forward to save all those suffering in the sub-freezing conditions. The guards set dogs on him, then poured gasoline on him and set him afire.
Archimandrite Grigol Peradze was glorified as a saint by the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church in 1995.
- Orthodox Wiki
- Memorial & Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Orthodox Pastoral Point, Warsaw and Bielsk, Poland
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