St. Nino and the conversion of Georgia

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“Georgia is called Mother of the Saints, some of these have been inhabitants of this land, while others came among us from Time to time from foreign parts to testify to the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(from – Passion of St. Abo).

The story of St. Nino, for all its fabulous embellishments, is built on a solid foundation of fact. History, archaeology and national tradition are unanimous in affirming that Iberia, as Eastern Georgia was then called, adopted Christianity as its state religion about A.D.330, in the time of Constantine the Great.

From the Georgian “Life of Saint Nino”

The Conversion of King Mirian, and of all Georgia with him
by our holy and blessed Mother, the Apostle Nino.
(Her festival is celebrated on January the 14th)

“This event caused a great sensation in Mtskheta and reached the ears of King Aderc himself. Everyone, including the princes and King Aderc, tried to take possession of the garment. But the monarch was overcome with fright and alarm when he found that he could not draw it from her arms. So firmly did she fold the garment to her breast that her brother Elioz buried it with her.

“Many years later the great-nephew of King Aderc, King Armazael, looked for the Tunic among the Jews, but failed to discover it or to learn anything about it, except that it was said to be buried near a cedar of Lebanon. But the family of Elioz knew that it was to the east of the city, by the bridge of the Magi.”

In the course of three years’ preaching she made many converts. Now there was a young boy belonging to a noble family who was dangerously ill, and his mother took him from door to door to see whether she could find anyone with the gift of healing to afford help in her trouble. But no one could heal the lad, and the doctors told the woman that her son could never be cured. This woman was a hardened pagan who detested the Christian faith and prevented other people from going to consult St. Nino.

“I have no authority to leave my humble tent Let the queen come here to my dwelling, and she will surely be healed by Christ’s power” There is no God besides Christ whom this slave girl preaches “

Then St. Nino went into Kakheti and converted the people. They received her teaching with joy and were baptized by Jacob the Priest. Then she went to Bodbe, where she was joined by the Queen of Kakheti with a great following of chiefs, warriors and women-slaves. She told them of Christ’s Holy Sacrament, and taught them the true faith with words of good cheer. She related the marvels which had been brought about by the living pillar, about which they had not yet heard. They welcomed St.Nino’s teaching with joy, and the queen was baptized with all her chiefs and handmaidens.

The book “LIVES AND LEGENDS OF THE GEORGIAN SAINTS” selected and translated from the original texts by DAVID MARSHALL LANG (M.A., Ph.D. Professor of Caucasian Studies University of London).

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