On behalf of Community of the Orthodox Christianity in the Caucasus,” the Bishop of Imereti Gabriel (picture №1) went to Abkhazia to review the Orthodox parishes (religious communities) in 1868.
On May 17 he visited the village of Duripsh. According to Bishop Gabriel, the inhabitants of the village were mostly newly baptized. There was no church in the village, but there was a priest. Near the house of that priest Bishop Gabriel met with the inhabitants of the village. Unfortunately, Bishop Gabriel did not mention the name of that priest.
According to Laura Benia, her great-grandfather Chsyp Tarba was a priest in the Duripsh church. Unfortunately the descendants of Chsyp Tarba don’t remember his Christian name. It is possible that his Christian name was Joseph, derived from Chsyp (Dzhsyf).
He finished Religious school at the Gelati Monastery. The priest was married to Esma Hyshba, he had four sons (Nickua, Dyrmit, Murat, Hassan) and three daughters (Manya, Nasya and Tsitsa).
After the Russian-Turkish war in 1877-1878 he was forced to leave Abkhazia with his family and went to the Ottoman Empire. The priest took all church utensils with him.
The priest and his family lived in the barracks with other Muhajirs. He didn’t go out of the barracks for three months. He was afraid of being forced to go to the mosque by Turks. He could return to Abkhazia with his family three months later. Buried in the village of Duripsh (picture №2).
Thus, the priest who was mentioned by Bishop Gabriel was Chsyp Tarba. It is possible that the Duripsh Church was built at that time (probably wooden). The Duripsh church could be built before the Russian-Turkish war in 1877-1878 or after it. When he returned to Abkhazia from Turkey.
In 1893, the Bishop of Sukhum – Agafodor visited Duripsh. He baptized 34 persons there.
Books of birth certificate of the Duripsh church community of that time preserved in the archives of the Ministry of Justice of Abkhazia (picture №4). According to these books baptisms, weddings and burials in the Duripsh Temple of St.Archangel were committed by the following priests: the priest of the Duripsh parish Joel (Nicholay Ladariya in 1901-1908), a missionary priest of the Sukhum Eparchy – Tarasy Ivanitsky(1901), priest Nicholay Kirtadze (1901), the parish priest of the Achandara Church – Nodya Simon (1901).
Parish clerks: Konstantin Sheklashvili (1900-1904), Paul Benevolensky (1904), Alexis Antalava(1906-1908) helped the priests. According to the Books of birth certificate priest Joel (Nicholay Ladariya)(picture №5)was the abbot of the St.Archangel’s church in the village of Duripsh.
In 1914, an article titled “Day of Joy” was published in the magazine “Employee of the Transcaucasian Mission”. The article reported on the celebration connected with the consecration of a new stone church in Duripsh.
According to the author of this article, the church was collapsed from disrepair in 1910. After that the church service was stopped and the parish clergy lived in the town of Gudauta (apparently, one of them was Nicolay Ladariya).
The Sukhum Diocesan Ecclesiastical Brotherhood named in honor of St.Alexander Nevsky started the construction of the temple in Duripsh. The construction of the temple started after the donations which were collected throughout the churches of the Russian Empire. The aim of the donations was the construction of new churches and renewal the old ones on the territory of Abkhazia.
On October 28, 1913 the construction of a new church was started in the village of Duripsh. The solemn consecration of the new church was held one year later on September 28, 1914. The cost of the church construction totaled 5.900 rubles. The Duripsh church could accommodate 350 people.
Its dimensions were: the length of the altar and the bell tower – 28 yards, the width of the middle part – 11 yards, the height of the bell tower with cross – 17 metres.
The church was built of rough stone. The walls inside the church and outside were plastered with cement mortar and whitewashed (picture №6).The temple was provided with church utensils. The iconostasis was old (the one which collapsed in 1910), but it was extended, refurbished and re-gilded.
The ceremony was attended by the priest of the Sukhum Cathedral Protopopov with Deacon Sokolov, priest from Gudauta District – Joseph Lakerbaya. A lot of people gathered from all surrounding communities in the village of Duripsh.
According to church tradition, at first the new church was consecrated with a procession around it. The throne was consecrated in honor of St. Michael the Archangel. The chorus of pupils from Gudauta sang Religious hymns. Then the Divine Liturgy in Abkhazian began. During the Liturgy, the chorus of the Likhny church sang in Abkhazian.
At the end of the Liturgy, priest Nicholay Ladariya gave a speech about the importance of the Orthodox church. His speech made a deep impression on the congregation.
The celebration ended with a modest festive dinner organised by the community of Duripsh. Apparently, Nikolay Ladariya remained a priest of the Duripsh temple untill his death, which occurred in 1924. After his death the temple was closed.
In the Soviet period the church and the church utensils were partially destroyed (picture №7).
In October 2014 the temple was cleared. On October 13, 2014 a blessing of water was held. The clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Eparchy headed by priest Vissarion Aplia. After the service, Vissarion Aplia congratulated on people and said that the church would be restored.
The author of the article is Doctor of Divinity, Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).
1. Bishop of Imereti Gabriel (1825-1896).
3. Metropolitan of Stavropol and Caucasus, the former Bishop of Sukhum, Agafodor (1837-1919).
4. Books of birth certificate of the Duripsh church community in 1900-1908.
5. The priest of the Duripsh Church Joel (Nicholay Ladariya). From the private archive of M.Ladariya.
6. The modern appearance of the Duripsh temple. Photos of Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).
See also in Gallery: The Temple of Archangel Michael in Duripsh [Смотреть]