Catholic missionaries began to work in the Georgian kingdom in the 13th century, setting up small Latin communities. A Latin diocese existed in Tbilisi from 1329 to 1507. In 1626 missionaries began to work specifically with Georgian Orthodox faithful [see the Orthodox Church of Georgia]. In 1845, the Russian government, which had controlled Georgia since 1801, expelled the Catholic missionaries. But in 1848 Tsar Nicholas I agreed to the creation of a Latin diocese at Tiraspol with jurisdiction over Catholics in the vast southern regions of the empire, including Georgia.
A small community of Armenian Catholics existed in Georgia since the 18th century. Because the tsars forbade their Catholic subjects to use the Byzantine rite, and the Holy See did not promote its use among the Georgians, no organized Georgian Greek Catholic Church ever existed. In 1920 it was estimated that of 40,000 Catholics in Georgia, 32,000 were Latins and the remainder of the Armenian rite. However, a small Georgian Byzantine Catholic parish has long existed in Istanbul. Currently it is without a priest. Twin male and female religious orders "of the Immaculate Conception" were founded there in 1861, but have since died out.
After Georgia became independent again in 1991, the Catholic Church was able to function more freely, and a significant Armenian Catholic community was able to resume a normal ecclesial life.
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