Final moments of Georgian priest in the Adriatic Sea - Italian media about father Ilia Kartozia
03 January, 2015
Father Ilia Kartozia, abbot of Davit Aghmashenebeli Monastery, was found dead following the fire on the “Norman Atlantic” ferry on the Adriatic Sea. Italian TV network RAI 2 has published some footage regarding the deceased priest’s life and final moments.
Edition repubblica.it has published an interview by a Georgian survivor, Irakli, 25, who retold the story of Father Ilia Kartozia.
According to Irakli, once the fire emerged, Father Ilia gave him hope and he would have been in despair without him.
Irakli says he was with his wife and a 9-year-old child on the ferry.
“Father Ilia was telling me God would not abandon us. He gave me strength. He told me in what direction to go,”- said Irakli. According to him, Father Ilia had a backpack full of icons. Irakli says that Father Ilia saw a woman with a small child and let her go ahead of him and stayed on a ship.
Later, when his turn came, the rope broke and Father Ilia fell into the sea,”- Irakli remembers. Somebody threw a life preserver in the water but Father Ilia could not get to it because of the violent sea.
When his turn to be rescued finally came, the rope broke and he ended up in the sea, with rescuers failing to reach him. His body was later found near the coast of the city of Lecce. The backpack he carried and refused to part with turned out to be full of icons.
Eight Georgians were aboard the Norman Atlantic ferry on the Adriatic Sea. All of them except Father Ilia are alive and safe. Father Ilia was Head of the Mtskheta monastery.
More than 10 people died in this tragic incident.

Related story:

“Father Ilia stood beside the captain of the ship and praying till the very end”
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