Georgian priest who died in ferry disaster praised for heroic rescue effort

admin | 04 January 2015
TBILISI, DFWatch–A witness has told how a Georgian priest helped save people before he himself perished in the Norman Atlantic disaster.

Father Ilia Kartozia reinforced other passengers’ confidence, which aided in the evacuation of the doomed ferry, Irakli, a Georgian survivor, told Italian daily la Repubblica.

He said Kartozia comforted him and gave him the strength to bring his nine year old son, wife and in-laws to safety.

“He was the one to save me, to give me strength,” the 25 year old told the newspaper.

When the fire started he took his son and started to run, but felt scared.

“He urged me, reassured me, told me to be confident and think about God.”

When people got to where the lifeboats were and it was his turn, the priest saw a woman with a little girl, possibly of Greek nationality, and he told them to go before him. Then when he was leaving the ferry the rescuing rope yielded. Someone threw him a life vest but he was unable to reach it due to the rough sea and he drowned, Irakli recalled.

The priest was on his way to visit the grave crypt of Saint Nicholas in Bari, and had with him a backpack with icons which he said he would always carry with him.

There were eight Georgians on the ferry, all of whom were rescued except Kartozia. At least ten people died in the catastrophe.

Italian TV channel Rai 2 reported that when Kartozia’s body was found on the shores at Lecce a backpack was also found filled with icons.

In Georgia, comparison is drawn between the priest’s courage and the theologian Grigol Peradze, who was arrested during World War II for sheltering Jews and died in Auschwitz. Peradze was canonized as a saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 1995.

Система Orphus Do you see a mistake in the text? Highlight it and click: Ctrl + Enter
Since you are here…

…we do have a small request. More and more people visit Orthodoxy and the World website. However, resources for editorial are scarce. In comparison to some mass media, we do not make paid subscription. It is our deepest belief that preaching Christ for money is wrong.

Having said that, Pravmir provides daily articles from an autonomous news service, weekly wall newspaper for churches, lectorium, photos, videos, hosting and servers. Editors and translators work together towards one goal: to make our four websites possible -,, and Therefore our request for help is understandable.

For example, 5 dollars a month is it a lot or little? A cup of coffee? It is not that much for a family budget, but it is a significant amount for Pravmir.

If everyone reading Pravmir could donate 5 dollars a month, they would contribute greatly to our ability to spread the word of Christ, Orthodoxy, life's purpose, family and society.

Choose currency:
Other amount
Dear Friends,

Our website exists owing to your generous assistance, thanks to the funds donated by our beloved readers.

Please assist us in the continuation of our work.