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Ephrem Mtsire or Ephraim the Small (Georgian: ეფრემ მცირე) (died c. 1101/3) was a Georgian monk at Antioch, theologian and translator of patristic literature from Greek.

Information as to Ephrem’s life is scarce. Early in life he received a thorough Hellenic education presumably in Constantinople, where his purported father Vache Karich'isdze, a Georgian nobleman from Tao, had removed in 1027. Ephrem then became a monk at the Black Mountain near Antioch, which was populated by a vibrant Georgian monastic community of around 70 monks. Later in his life, c. 1091, Ephrem became a hegumen of the Castalia monastery in Daphne, outside Antioch.

Ephrem’s hellenophile translational technique proved to be fundamental for later Georgian literature. He was the first to introduce literal rendering into Georgian, and made scholia and lexica familiar to Georgian readers. Some of his notable translations are the works by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Basil of Caesarea, Ephrem the Syrian, and John of Damascus. Ephrem’s original work "Tale on the Reason for the Conversion of the Georgians" (უწყებაჲ მიზეზსა ქართველთა მოქცევისასა; uts’qebay mizezsa k’art’velt’a mok’tsevisasa) is yet another manifesto in defense of autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church which was subject of a dispute between the Georgian and Antiochian churchmen in the 11th century.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephrem_Mtsire

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Eustathius or Eustace of Mtskheta (Evstat'i Mtskhet'eli; Georgian: ევსტათი მცხეთელი) (died c. 550) is an Orthodox Christian saint, executed for his apostasy from Zoroastrianism by the Persian military authorities in Georgia. His story is related in the anonymous 6th-century Georgian hagiographic novel The Passion of Eustathius of Mtskheta.

One of the earliest extant works of the Georgian literature, The Passion of Eustathius of Mtskheta (მარტჳლობაჲ და მოთმინებაჲ წმიდისა ევსტათი მცხეთელისაჲ) was written by an anonymous author later in the 6th century, within thirty years of Eustathius' reported death. The morphology of the work as well as some theological phrases also supports this dating, although the earliest surviving manuscript dates from c. 1000 (Georgian National Center of Manuscripts, MSS H-341). The text is also interesting for the first Georgian formulation of the Ten Commandments, an account of the life of Jesus which recalls Tatian's Diatessaron (a Gospel harmony of the 2nd century), and traces of influence of the 2nd century Apology of Aristides. The Passion was first published by Mikhail Sabinin in 1882.

Eustathius is reported by the hagiographer to have been a Persian cobbler originally called Gvirobandak, son of a Zoroastrian priest (magi), from Ganzak. Having converted to Christianity, he flees persecution to Georgia (Iberia), then under the Persian military authority, in 541. He settles at the Christian town of Mtskheta and marries a Christian woman. The local Persian cobblers’ guild denounces Eustathius to the marzban Arvand Gushnasp with seven other converts to be judged. Arvand punishes the apostates by having their noses pierced and casts them in prison under sentence of death. Six months later, Arvand releases them, however, as a farewell gesture to the local people, when recalled from Georgia by the king Khosrau I. Four years later, under the new marzban Bezhan Buzmir, Eustathius is rearrested, but reaffirms his faith before the court in a speech of some 3,000 words that makes up nearly half the Passion. Eventually, the marzban, albeit reluctant, has him beheaded in Tbilisi.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustathius_of_Mtskheta

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Euthymius the Athonite (Georgian: ექვთიმე ათონელი Ekvtime Atoneli) (ca.955-1028) was a renowned Georgian philosopher and scholar, also known as Eufimius the Abasgian or St. Euthymius the Georgian. The son of Ioane Varaz-vache Chordvaneli and nephew of the great Tornike Eristavi, Euthymius was taken as a hostage to Constantinople but was later released and became a monk joining the Great Lavra of Athanasios on Mount Athos. He subsequently became the leader of the Georgian Iviron monastery and emerged as one of the finest Eastern Christian theologians and scholars of his age. Fluent in Georgian, Greek and other languages, he translated many religious treatises and philosophical works. Among his major works was the translation of Sibrdzne Balavarisa (Wisdom of Balahvari), a Christianized version of episodes from the life of Gautama Buddha that became very popular in Medieval Europe as the story of Barlaam and Josaphat. Of equal importance was Euthymius’ work to prepare Georgian translations of various Greek philosophical, ecclesiastical and legal discourses.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthymius_of_Athos

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George of Chqondidi (Georgian: გიორგი ჭყონდიდელი, Giorgi Chqondideli) (died c. 1118) was a Georgian churchman and court minister best known as a tutor and the closest adviser of King David IV of Georgia (r. 1089-1125).

He served as a archbishop of Chqondidi (Chqondideli) in west Georgia and possibly played a role in a palace coup in which George II was forced to cede power to his young and energetic son David IV, while himself was reduced to the status of a co-king. George was the tutor and spiritual father of David and was appointed by the new king as the Grand Chancellor of Georgia (mtsignobart’-ukhutsesi) following the ecclesiastic council of Ruisi-Urbnisi of 1103. Henceforth this office, for a time the greatest at the Georgian court, was usually held by the incumbent archbishops of Chqondidi. Giorgi appeared as David’s key ally in his reforms of the church and state machinery. He personally supervised successful efforts at recapturing the strongholds of Samshvilde (1110) and Rustavi (1115) from the Seljuk Turks. In 1118, he accompanied the king in his travel to the Kipchak lands to negotiate a recruitment of these nomad tribesmen in the royal army of Georgia. He was never to return to Georgia though, as he died in Alania around that year. According to the Georgian Chronicles, George "was mourned as a father, and even more deeply, by the whole kingdom, and by the king himself, who wore black for forty days". And he was buried at the Gelati cathedral. The art historian Guram Abramishvili identifies George with the saint depicted on a fresco from the Ateni Sioni Church as leading a row of royal donors.

On June 27, 2005, George of Chqondidi was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church which marks his feast day annually on September 12.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_of_Chqondidi

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George the Hagiorite – Giorgi Mt'ats'mindeli or Giorgi At'oneli (Georgian: გიორგი მთაწმინდელი, გიორგი ათონელი) – (1009 – June 27, 1065), was a Georgian monk, religious writer, and translator, who spearheaded the activities of Georgian monastic communities in the Byzantine Empire. His epithets Mt'ats'mindeli and At'oneli, meaning "of the Holy Mountain" (Hagiorite) and "of Athos" (Athonite) respectively, are a reference to his association with the Iviron monastery on Mount Athos, where he served as hegumen.

One of the most influential Christian churchmen of medieval Georgia, George acted as an arbitrator and facilitator of cross-cultural engagement between his native country and the Byzantine Empire. He extensively translated the Fathers of the Church, the Psalms, works of exegesis and synaxaria from Greek – some things which had not previously existed in Georgian, revised some others, and improved the translations of one of his predecessors, Euthymius of Athos, to whom (and also to John of Athos) George dedicated his most important original work "The Vitae of John and Euthymius". Active also in Georgia, he helped regulate local canon law, and brought his young compatriots to be educated at Athos. His defense of the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox church when it was questioned by the Patriarch of Antioch made him one of the most venerated saints in Georgia. He featured prominently during the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Christendom, being one of the few Eastern churchmen who defended the separated Western brethren.

Biography

George was born in Trialeti, a southern province of Georgia, into the aristocratic family of Jacob, sometime envoy of King Bagrat III of Georgia to Iran, and his wife Mariam. He was sent to a local monastery at Tadzrisi at the age of seven to commence his education and after three years moved to another, at Khakhuli. Around 1022, George was sent to Constantinople where he mastered Greek and gained a profound knowledge of Byzantine theology. After his return to Georgia in 1034 he took monastic tonsure at Khakhuli, then made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and subsequently spent some time as the disciple of another Georgian monk, George the Recluse, on the Black Mountain near Antioch. In 1040, George established himself at the Iviron (literally, "of the Georgians") monastery on Mount Athos, Greece. Four years later, upon the death of the hegumen Stephanos, George was consecrated as his successor. He reorganized and refurnished the Iviron cloister, and made it into a vibrant center of Georgian Orthodox culture.

At some point between 1052 and 1057, George left his fellow monk George of Oltisi in charge of the Iviron monastery, and set off to Antioch to appear before the Patriarch to defend his brethren, accused by a group of the Greek clerics of heresy. The dispute quickly evolved around the canonical legality of the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox church, which had originally operated within the framework of the see of Antioch, but had been becoming increasingly independent since the 6th century. In defense of the Georgian autocephaly, George was referring to St. Andrew's mission to ancient Colchis and Iberia, a version which appears in medieval Georgian ecclesiastic tradition. Early in the 11th century, the autocephalous catholicos Melchisedek I (1012-30) assumed the additional title of patriarch, but Antioch was reluctant to recognize the move on the grounds that none of the Twelve Apostles had peregrinated in Georgia. In the end, George persuaded Theodosius III of Antioch to grant his confirmation to the autocephalous status of the Georgian church. This happened around the same time when the Byzantine government finally abandoned its efforts at forcing Georgia into submission, and reconciled with the Georgian king Bagrat IV.

In the gradually increasing polarity of the patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople that preceded the East-West Schism and the dénouement of 1054, the position of Georgian churchmen, and especially that of the Iviron monastery, was more lenient than the Greek (the other notable exceptions were Patriarch Peter III of Antioch and Metropolitan John III of Kiev). George was one of the few clerics in the Byzantine world who had deplored Michael I Cerularius’s stance towards the Western brethren aloud, and asserted, in 1064, in the presence of the Byzantine emperor Constantine X the inerrancy of the Roman church.

Although George declined Bagrat IV's repeated urges to lead the Georgian church, he, in 1057/8, took up the royal invitation to return to Georgia for five years. There, he initiated reforms in the Georgian church that were to contribute to a cleansed ecclesiastic hierarchy and regulate its relations with the increasingly strengthening royal authority. On his way back to Greece, George visited Constantinople and obtained the imperial decree for the education of Georgian students at Athos. He did not reach his destination, however, and died at Athens on June 29, 1065. The Athonite monks interred him at the Iviron monastery.

George the Hagiorite was subsequently canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church and is remembered annually on July 10.

Legacy

The influence of George’s legacy on Georgian religious tradition was immense. He worked on an updated translation of the Gospels and translated, more literally, writings of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, John of Damascus, Nectarius of Constantinople, Dorotheus of Tyre and others. His translations as well as original works set the standards for the medieval Georgian hymnography, liturgy, and hagiography. His work may be considered as a continuation, and to some extent a rectification, of that of Euthymius (c. 955-1028), and marked the high point of the literary tradition flourishing at the foreign centers of Georgian monasticism.

The activity of George and his fellow Athonite Georgians laid a foundation for the basic principles of the practice and moral life of Christians as well as the relationship between the royal court and the church later promoted and officially adopted by the national ecclesiastic council of Ruisi-Urbnisi held under the presidency of the king David IV in 1103.

"The Vitae of Our Blessed Fathers John and Euthymius and an Account of their Worthy Achievements" (ცხოვრება ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა იოანესი და ეფთჳმესი და უწყებაჲ ღირსისა მის მოქალაქობისა მათისაჲ) is George's most important original work, dedicated to his Athonite forerunners. It combines hagiography with religious and political propaganda, and historical record. Written some time after 1040, this manuscript of some 12,000 words in the Athos collection is a history and praise of the Iviron community, their contribution to the Georgian patristic literature and the defense of Byzantine monasticism. Apart from its political and theological message, George’s work is noted for its graphic rhythmic prose, describing the monks working in the garden and vineyards. In 1066, a year after his death, George himself became the subject of a similar biography by his disciple George the Minor (or Priest-Monk George [died post-1083]).




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_the_Hagiorite

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Gregory of Khandzta (Georgian: გრიგოლ ხანძთელი, Grigol Khandzteli) (759 – 5 October 861) was a prominent Georgian ecclesiastic figure and a founder and leader of numerous monastic communities in Tao-Klarjeti, historic southwest Georgia.

Born into an illustrious aristocratic family in Kartli, Gregory left his home when he was young and proceeded to become a monk in the “desert” of Klarjeti (now located in north-eastern Turkey), a historic south-western Georgian province which had been devastated by Arab invasions and cholera epidemics. After a short time in the monastery of Opiza, he founded his own monastery at Khandzta (ხანძთა) which soon attracted an increasing number of brethren. Later, he founded several other monasteries in Klarjeti, and subsequently he was elected as their archimandrite. The monasteries and their scriptoria functioned as centres of wisdom for centuries and they played an important role in the reconstitution of the Georgian state.

At the same time, Ashot I Kuropalates, the presiding prince of Iberia, had chosen Artanuji in Klarjeti as his residence and base in the struggle against the Arabs overlords. In this fight, Gregory played an eminent role as the religious leader. His influence grew so strong that he was able to interfere in politics and even in the private lives of the Georgian princes.

Saint Gregory of Khandzta died as a centenarian in 861, surrounded by numerous followers and disciples. The Georgian Orthodox Church marks his memory on the day of his death, October 18. His life was compiled in the hagiographic work written by Giorgi Merchule in 951.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_of_Khandzta

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John the Iberian(also John the Georgian, John the Hagiorite, John Iweron) (d. ca. 1002) was a Georgian monk, who is venerated as a saint. A member of the Georgian nobility, he was married and served as a military commander. However, he later became a monk in Bithynia and then traveled to Constantinople to rescue his son, Euthymius the Illuminator (Euthymius Opplyseren). Euthymius had been held as a hostage by the emperor.


Iviron monastery, as seen from the path that connects Iviron to Stavronikita monasteryJohn and his son attracted many followers, so they both retired to the monastery of Saint Athanasius on Mount Athos. They founded Iviron monastery with the help of John’s brother-in-law, John Thornikos, a retired general. John served as the first abbot of Iviron.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Iberian

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Mirian III (Georgian: მირიან III) was a king of Iberia (or Kartli, modern Georgia), contemporaneous to the Roman emperor Constantine I (r. 306–337).

According to the early medieval Georgian annals and hagiography, Mirian was the first Christian king of Iberia, converted through the ministry of Nino, a Cappadocian female missionary. He is credited with establishment of Christianity as his kingdom's state religion and is regarded by the Georgian Orthodox Church as saint.

Traditional chronology after Prince Vakhushti assigns to Mirian's reign — taken to have lasted for 77 years — the dates 268–345, which Professor Cyril Toumanoff corrects to 284–361. He is also known to the contemporary Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus and the medieval Armenian chronicles.

Name

The king's name, Mirian, is a Georgian adaptation of the Iranian "Mihran". The medieval Georgian records give other versions of his name, both in its original Iranian as well as closely related Georgian forms (Mirean, Mirvan). Writing in Latin, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (XXI.6.8) renders the name of his contemporary Iberian king as Meribanes. The Armenian chronicles, possibly compiled in the 8th century and traditionally ascribed to Moses of Chorene, gives Mihran and speaks about his conversion to Christianity. The regnal numbers as in Mirian III are modern and were not used by the medieval Georgian authors. Since two kings preceded first Christian ruler of Iberia with that name, Mirian has been assigned the ordinal “III” in Georgian historiography.

Dynastic origin

According to the medieval Georgian chronicle Life of the Kings, Mirian was a Persian prince married to an Iberian princess Abeshura, daughter of the last Georgian Arsacid king Aspagur. Upon the death of Aspagur, Mirian was installed on the throne of Iberia by his father whom the medieval Georgian chronicles refer to as "K'asre" (Khosrau), Great King of Iran. This being during the rule of the Sassanid dynasty over Iran, the medieval author of the chronicles assumed (or invented) Mirian's descent from the Sassanids. However, the name Khosrau was not used by the Sassanids till some time later; hence, either the Georgian annals are mistaken in the name of Mirian’s father, or "Khosrau" was taken as a general term meaning "king". Toumanoff inferred that Mirian might have been a scion of the Mihranid family, one of the "seven Parthian clans". Professor Giorgi Melikishvili argues that Toumanoff's assumption is dubious and considers Mirian a representative of the local Iberian élite clan to whom the medieval tradition ascribed an exotic foreign royal ancestry to infuse him with more prestige. Another medieval Georgian account, Conversion of Kartli, is at odds with the tradition of Life of the Kings and identifies Mirian as the son of Lev, who is unattested elsewhere.

Early reign

The Life of the Kings recount Mirian's reign in much details. While its information about Mirian’s participation — as an Iranian client king — in the Sasanid war against the Roman Empire, and territorial ambitions in Armenia can be true, the claims of Mirian’s being a pretender to the throne of Iran, his being in control of Colchis and Albania, and expansion of his activity as far as Syria is obviously fictional. In the 298 Peace of Nisibis with Iran, Rome was acknowledged their suzerainty over Armenia and Iberia, but Mirian III retained the crown. He quickly adapted to this change in political situation, and established close ties with Rome. This association was cemented by Mirian's conversion to Christianity — according to tradition — through the ministry of Nino, a Cappadocian nun. Nevertheless, as Ammianus Marcellinus recounts, Constantine's successor, Constantius, had to sent in 360 embassies with costly presents to Arsaces of Armenia and Meribanes of Iberia to secure their allegiance during the confrontation with Iran.

Conversion to Christianity

Mirian's conversion to Christianity might have occurred in 334, followed by the declaration of Christianity as Iberia's state religion in 337. He was, thus, among the first monarchs of the ancient world to have adopted this new religion. A legend has it that when Mirian, staunchly pagan, was hunting in the woods near his capital Mtskheta, the darkness fell upon the land and the king was totally blinded. The light did not resume until Mirian prayed to "Nino's God" for aid. Upon his arrival he requested the audience with Nino and converted to Christianity soon after. According to tradition, Mirian's second wife, Nana, preceded her husband in conversion.

His conversion fostered the growth of the central royal government, which confiscated the pagan temple properties and gave them to the nobles and the church; the medieval Georgian sources give evidence of how actively the monarchy and the nobility propagated Christianity and of the resistance they encountered from the mountain folk. The Roman historian Rufinus as well as the Georgian annals report that, after their conversion, the Iberians requested clergy from the emperor Constantine, who responded vigorously and sent priests and holy relics to Iberia. The Georgian tradition than relates a story of the construction of a cathedral in Mtskheta at Mirian's behest and the king's pilgrimage to Jerusalem shortly before his death. According to tradition, Mirian and his wife Nana were interred at the Samtavro convent in Mtskheta, where their tombs are still shown.

Family

The Georgian sources speak of Mirian’s two marriages. His first wife was Abeshura, daughter of the last Arsacid Iberian king who also traced his ancestry to the ancient Pharnabazid dynasty of Iberia. She died without issue when Mirian was 15 years old, in 292 according to Toumanoff. With her death, "the kingship and queenship of the Pharnabazid kings came to an end in Iberia", — the chronicler continues. Mirian subsequently remarried his second queen, Nana "from Pontus, daughter of Oligotos", who bore him two sons — Rev and Varaz-Bakur — and a daughter who married Peroz, the first Mihranid dynast of Gogarene.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirian_III_of_Iberia

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Nana (Georgian: ნანა) was a Queen Consort of Caucasian Iberia (modern Georgia) as the second wife of Mirian III in the 4th century. She is regarded as saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church for her role in conversion of the Iberians to Christianity.

According to the Georgian chronicles, Nana was "from Greek territory, from Pontus, the daughter of Oligotos”[3] whom Mirian married after his first wife died (in 292 according to Cyril Toumanoff). Pontus here may refer to the Bosporan Kingdom, then a client state of the Roman Empire. Toumanoff has assumed that the name of Nana's father might have been a Georgian corruption of "Olympius" or "Olympus", a Bosporan dynast whose son Aurelius Valerius Sogus Olympianus, a Roman governor of Theodosia, is known from a Greek inscription of AD 306 dedicated to "the Most High God" on the occasion of the building of the Jewish "prayer house". There has also been an attempt to identify Nana as a younger daughter of Theothorses, a Bosporan king.

The medieval Georgian sources relate that Nana had been a staunch pagan and despised Christian preaching until she was miraculously cured of a terrible disease, and subsequently converted, by a Cappadocian Christian missionary, Nino. The Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus, writing half a century after the Iberian conversion on the basis of the oral account of Bacurius the Iberian, also mentions an unnamed queen of the Iberians who was cured by a woman, a Christian captiva. Through Nino’s ministry, King Mirian soon also was baptized and, c. 337, Christianity became a state religion of Iberia. Nana outlived her husband by two years, dying in 363 (per Toumanoff). She was eventually canonized by the Georgian church. The royal saints are said to have been buried at the Samtavro convent in Mtskheta, where their tombs are still shown.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nana_of_Iberia

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Saint Nino (Georgian: წმინდა ნინო (ts'minda nino), Armenian: Սուրբ Նունե, Greek: Αγία Νίνω), (sometimes St. Nune or St. Ninny) Equal to the Apostles in and the Enlightener of Georgia, (c. 296 – c. 338 or 340) was a woman who preached Christianity in Armenia and introduced it to Georgia.

According to most widely traditional accounts, she was from Kolastra, Cappadocia (Greek: Καππαδοκία), was a relative of Saint George, and came to Georgia (ancient Iberia) from Constantinople. Other sources claim she was from Rome, Jerusalem or Gaul (modern France). As the legend goes, she performed miraculous healings and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who, lost in darkness and blinded on a hunting trip, found his way only after he prayed to “Nino’s God”. Mirian declared Christianity an official religion (c. 327) and Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death.

Her tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti, eastern Georgia. St. Nino has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a Grapevine cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity.

Early life

Many sources agree that Nino was born in the small town of Colastri, in the Roman province of Cappadocia, although a smaller number of sources disagree with this. On her family and origin, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have different traditions.

According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, she was the only child of the famous family. Her father was Roman general Zabulon and mother Sosana (Susan). On her father's side, Nino was related to St. George, and on her mother's, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Houbnal I.

During her childhood Nino was brought up by her relative and the nun named Sarah Bethlehemlianka. Nino’s uncle who served as the Patriarch of Jerusalem oversaw her traditional upbringing. Nino went to Rome with the help of her uncle where she decided to preach the Christian gospel in Iberia, known to her as the resting place of the Christ’s tunic. According to the legend, Nino received a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a grapevine cross and said:

"Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will find favour before the Lord; and I will be for you a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My beloved Son and Lord."
While on her way to Iberia, passing through Anatolia into Armenia then Caucasus, Nino managed to convert several villages to Christianity on the way. Saint Nino entered into the Iberian Kingdom in Caucasus from the Kingdom of Armenia, where she escaped prosecution from the hands of the Armenian King Trinidates the III. She belonged to a community of virgins along with martyr Hripsime, numbering 37 and under the leadership of St. Gayane, who pritched Christianity in the Armenian Kingdom. All but she were procecuted and beheaded by the King Tiridates (Terdat) the 3rd. All the 37 virgins had been soon canonised by the Armenian Apostolic Church including St. Nune (St. Nino).

Contrasting with this, the Roman Catholic tradition says Nino was brought to Iberia not fully from her own intent, but as a slave, and that her family tree is obscure.

St Nino in Iberia

Nino reached the borders of ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the South in about 320 A.D. There she placed a Christian cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki in the Armenian Kingdom and started preaching the Christian faith in Urbnis and finally reaching Mtskheta (the capital of Iberia). Iberian Kingdom has been influenced by the neighbouring Persian Empire which played an important role as the regional power in the Caucasus. The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshiped the syncretic gods of Armazi and Zaden. Soon after the arrival of Nino in Mstkheta, the Queen of Iberia Nana (daughter of King Asphagor) requested the audience with the Cappadician.

Queen Nana, who suffered from a severe illness, had some knowledge of Christianity but had not yet converted to it. Nino, restoring the Queen's health, won to herself disciples from the Queen's attendants, including a Jewish priest and his daughter, Abiathar and Sidonia. Queen Nana also officially converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino herself. King Mirian, aware of his wife’s religious conversion, was intolerant of her new faith, persecuting it and threatening to divorce his wife if she didn't leave the faith. He secluded himself, however, from Nino and the growing Christian community in his kingdom. His isolation to Christianity did not last long because, according to the legend, while on a hunting trip, he was suddenly struck blind as total darkness emerged in the woods. In a desperate state, King Mirian uttered a prayer to the God of St Nino:

If indeed that Christ whom the Captive had preached to his Wife was God, then let Him now deliver him from this darkness, that he too might forsake all other gods to worship Him. [3]
As soon as he finished his prayer, the light appeared and the King hastily returned to his palace in Mtskheta. As a result of this miracle, the King of Iberia renounced idolatry under the teaching of St Nino and was baptized as the first Christian King of Iberia. Soon, the whole of his household and the inhabitants of Mtskheta adopted Christianity. In A.D. 327 King Mirian made Christianity the state religion of his kingdom, making Iberia the second Christian state after Armenia.

After adopting Christianity, Mirian sent an ambassador to Byzantium, asking Emperor Constantine I to have a bishop and priests sent to Iberia. Constantine, having learned of Iberia’s conversion to Christianity, granted Mirian the church lands in Jerusalem and sent the delegation of Bishops to the court of the Georgian King. Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus in Historia Ecclesiastica writes about Mirians request to Constantine:

After the church had been built with due magnificence, the people were zealously yearning for God's faith. So an embassy is sent on behalf of the entire nation to the Emperor Constantine, in accordance with the captive woman's advice. The foregoing events are related to him, and a petition submitted, requesting that priests be sent to complete the work which God had begun. Sending them on their way amidst rejoicing and ceremony, the Emperor was far more glad at this news than if he had annexed to the Roman Empire peoples and realms unknown.
In 334 A.D, Mirian commissioned the building of the first Christian church in Iberia which was finally completed in 379 A.D. on the spot where now stands the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mstkheta.

Nino, having witnessed the conversion of Iberia to Christianity, withdrew to the mountain pass in Bodbe, Kakheti. St Nino died soon after; immediately after her death, King Mirian commenced with the building of monastery in Bodbe, where her tomb can still be seen in the churchyard.

Nino and its variants remains the most popular name for women and girls in the Republic of Georgia. There are currently 88,441 women over age 16 by that name residing in the country, according to the Georgia Ministry of Justice. It also continues to be a popular name for baby girls.

The Georgian name "Nino" is "Nune" or "Nuneh" in Armenian, thus St. Nino is known as St. Nune in Armenia. Her history as the only one of the 35 nuns of the company of Sts. Gayane and Hripsime to escape the slaughter at the hands of the pagan Armenian King Tiradates III in 301 A.D. is recounted in the book "The History of the Armenians" by Movses Khorenatzi (Moses of Khoren), which was written approximately 440 A.D.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nino

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Peter the Iberian, or Peter of Iberia, (Georgian: პეტრე იბერი, Petre Iberi) (A.D. c. 411-491) is a Georgian Orthodox saint, who was a prominent figure in early Christianity.

Some of his accomplishments are the foundination the first Georgian monastery in Bethlehem and being the bishop of Gaza near Mayuma. In addition to being canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church as a saint, he is also recognized by various eastern Churches, some of which have deviated from the Chalcedonian doctrine.

Life

He was born into the royal family of the Iberian Kings and was initially named Murvan (alternatively, Nabarnugios), prince of Iberia. His father, King Bosmarios of Iberia, invited a noted philosopher Mithradates from Lazica to take part in Murvan’s education. In 423, the prince was sent as a political hostage to Constantinople, where he got a brilliant education under a personal patronage of the Roman empress Aelia Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II.

Eventually, the young prince, together with his mentor Mithradates, left the palace and escaped to make a pilgrimage to Palestine where he became a monk at Jerusalem under the name of Peter. In 430, he founded his own monastery at Bethlehem (later known as the Georgian Monastery of Bethlehem). In 445, he was consecrated priest. Accompanied by Mithridates (now called John), he traveled across several countries of the Near East, and finally settled in Majuma near Gaza.

In 452, he served as bishop of Majuma for six months before some Christians were banished by the decree of the local ruler. Peter escaped to Egypt, but returned to Palestine a decade later. He gained numerous followers and disciples. According to the medieval sources, he was an author of several famous religious works. However, none of them survived to be written under the name of Peter.

He died at Yavneh-Yam, port of ancient Iamnia, in 491 and was buried in his monastery near Gaza.

Biographies

1) The so-called Syriac version originally written by Peter’s disciple John Rufus in Greek dates back to the 8th century
2) The so-called Georgian version originally written by Peter’s contemporary, Zacharias Rhetor, bishop of Mytilene, in Greek has preserved as a manuscript of c. 13th century.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_the_Iberian

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Saint Rajden the First-Martyr also known as Saint Razdhen of Tsromi (d. 457, feast day: August 3) was a Persia-born Christian saint and martyr in Georgia, who died during the oppression of Christian Iberia (E. Georgia) by the Persian Empire.

According to a metaphrastic story of the 12th century, he was a Persian noble and tutor of princess Balendukhta who married, ca. 446-9, the Iberian king Vakhtang I. Together with her, Rajden resettled in Iberia. Soon he became an advisor to the king and converted into Christianity.

In 456, king Peroz I of Persia demanded that the Iberians joined his expedition against the Byzantine Empire. King Vakhtang refused to comply and a Persian army attacked the country. The forces were uneven and the Iberians suffered defeat. Rajden, who headed a defence of the Armazi fortress at the capital Mtskheta, was captured alive and sent to the Persian court. After a brief imprisonment, he was handed over to the Persian governor of Tsromi, Georgia. He was ordered to renounce Christianity, but Rajden refused. Subjected to extensive tortures, he was finally crucified and struck by several arrows.

His relics were later transferred to a Nikozi Church near the town of Tskhinvali.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajden_the_First-Martyr

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Shalva Toreli-Akhaltiskheli (Georgian: შალვა თორელი-ახალციხელი) (died in 1227) was a Georgian military commander and courtier, of the noble house of Toreli-Akhaltsikheli.

Shalva was one of the most notable military commanders during a series of expansionist wars waged by the Kingdom of Georgia under Queen Tamar (r. 1184-1213). He consecutively held top posts of Lord High Treasurer and Lord High Mandator at Tamar’s court. Together with his brother Ivane, Shalva was in command of vanguard traditionally composed of the Meschian troops from south Georgia. In the battle of Shamkor against the Ildenizid atabeg of Azerbaijan in 1195, he captured a war banner sent by the Caliph to the Muslim army which was then donated to the revered icon of Our Lady of Khakhuli. In 1206/1207, Shalva, together with Sargis Tmogveli, took hold of the city of Kars from the Seljuqs and was appointed as the governor of the Kars county.

When the Khwarazmid shah Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu surged into the Caucasus in 1225, Shalva and his brother Ivane were again placed in charge of the vanguard of the Georgian army commanded by atabeg Ivane Mkhargrdzeli. There was some enmity between Ivane and the two Akhaltsikheli brothers. This was possibly the reason why Mkhargrdzeli did not allow his army to fight in the battle of Garni. The two brothers did battle and were routed. Shalva was wounded and captured and his brother Ivane was killed while retreating to the mountains. Having spent some time in honorary captivity, Shalva was put to death for not apostasizing to Islam at Jalal ad-Din's order. Subsequently, he was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church which commemorates him on June 17/June 30 (O.S.).[1]

Shalva is traditionally believed to be praised in a patriotic Georgian folk ballad Shavlego, which was particularly popular during the national mobilization against the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalva_of_Akhaltsikhe

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Tamar (Georgian: თამარი, also transliterated as T'amar, Thamar or Tamari) (c. 1160 – 18 January 1213), of the Bagrationi dynasty, was Queen Regnant of Georgia from 1184 to 1213. The first woman to rule Georgia in her own right, Tamar presided over the "Golden age" of the medieval Georgian monarchy.
Tamar was proclaimed heir apparent and co-ruler by her reigning father George III in 1178, but she faced significant opposition from the aristocracy upon her ascension to full ruling powers after George's death. Nevertheless, Tamar was successful in neutralizing this opposition and embarked on an energetic foreign policy aided by the downfall of the rival powers of the Seljuqids and Byzantium. Supported by a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated the Caucasus until its collapse under the Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar's death.
Tamar's association with this period of political and cultural revival, combined with her role as a female ruler, has led to her idealization and romanticization. She remains an important symbol in Georgian popular culture and has also been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Early life and ascent to the throne

Tamar was born, c. 1160, to George III, King of Georgia, and his consort Burdukhan, a daughter of the king of Alania. It is possible that Tamar had a younger sister, Rusudan; but she is only mentioned once in all contemporary accounts of Tamar's reign.
Tamar's youth coincided with a major upheaval in Georgia; in 1177, her father, George III, was confronted by a rebellious faction of nobles. The rebels intended to dethrone George in favor of the king's nephew, Demna, who was considered by many to be a legitimate royal heir of his murdered father, David V. Demna's cause was little but a pretext for the nobles, led by the pretender's father-in-law, the constable Ivane Orbeli, to weaken the crown. George III was able to crush the revolt and embarked on a violent campaign of crackdown on the defiant aristocratic clans; Ivane Orbeli was put to death and the surviving members of his family were driven out of Georgia. Prince Demna, castrated and blinded on his uncle's order, did not survive the mutilation and soon died in prison. Once the rebellion was suppressed and the pretender eliminated, George went ahead to co-opt Tamar into government with him and crowned her as co-ruler in 1178. By doing so, the king attempted to preempt any dispute after his death and legitimize his line on the throne of Georgia. At the same time, he raised men from the gentry and unranked classes to keep the aristocracy from the center of power.

Early reign and the first marriage

For six years, Tamar was a co-ruler with her father upon whose death, in 1184, Tamar continued as the sole monarch and was crowned a second time at the Gelati cathedral near Kutaisi, western Georgia. She inherited a relatively strong kingdom, but the centrifugal tendencies fostered by the great nobles were far from being quelled. There was a considerable opposition to Tamar's succession; this was sparked by a reaction against the repressive policies of her father, but it was encouraged by the new sovereign's other perceived weakness, her sex. As Georgia had never previously had a female ruler, a part of the aristocracy questioned Tamar's legitimacy, while others tried to exploit her youth and supposed weakness to assert greater autonomy for themselves. The energetic involvement of Tamar's influential aunt, Queen Rusudan, and the Georgian catholicos Michael IV Mirianisdze was crucial for legitimizing Tamar’s succession to the throne. However, the young queen was forced into making significant concessions to the aristocracy. She had to reward the catholicos Michael's support by making him a chancellor, thus placing him at the top of both the clerical and secular hierarchies.
Tamar was also pressured into dismissing her father's appointees, among them the constable Qubasar, a Georgianized Kipchak of ignoble birth, who had helped George III in his crackdown on the defiant nobility. One of the few untitled servitors of George III to escape this fate was the treasurer Qutlu Arslan who now led a group of nobles and wealthy citizens in a struggle to limit the royal authority by creating a new council, karavi, whose members would alone deliberate and decide policy. This attempt at "feudal constitutionalism" was rendered abortive when Tamar had Qutlu Arslan arrested and his supporters were inveigled into submission. Yet, Tamar’s first moves to reduce the power of the aristocratic élite were unsuccessful. She failed in her attempt to use a church synod to dismiss the catholicos Michael, and the noble council, darbazi, asserted the right to approve royal decrees. Even the queen’s first husband, the Rus' prince Yuri, was forced on her by the nobles. Pursuant to dynastic imperatives and the ethos of the time, the nobles required Tamar to marry in order to have a leader for the army and to provide an heir to the throne. Their choice fell on Yuri, son of the murdered prince Andrei I Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal, who then lived as a refuge among the Kipchaks of the North Caucasus. The choice was approved by Tamar’s aunt Rusudan and the prince was brought to Georgia to marry the queen in 1185. Yuri proved to be an able soldier, but a difficult person and he soon ran afoul of his wife. The strained spousal relations reflected a bitter factional struggle at the royal court in which Tamar was becoming more and more assertive of her rights as a queen regnant. The turning point in Tamar's fortunes came with the death of the powerful catholicos Michael whom the queen replaced, as a chancellor, with her supporter, Anton Glonistavisdze. Tamar gradually expanded her own powerbase and elevated her loyal nobles to high positions at the court, most notably the Armenianized Kurdish family of Zachariads, known in Georgia as the Mkhargrdzeli.

Second marriage

In 1187, Tamar persuaded the noble council to approve her divorce with Yuri who was accused of addiction to drunkenness and "sodomy", and sent off to Constantinople. Assisted by several Georgian aristocrats anxious to check Tamar’s growing power, Yuri made two attempts at coup, but failed and went off to obscurity after 1191. The queen chose her second husband herself. He was David Soslan, an Alan prince, to whom the 18th-century Georgian scholar Prince Vakhushti ascribes descent from the early 11th-century Georgian king George I. David, a capable military commander, became Tamar's major supporter and was instrumental in defeating the rebellious nobles rallied behind Yuri. Tamar and David had two children. In 1191, the queen gave birth to a son, George – the future king George IV (Lasha) – an event which was widely celebrated in the kingdom. The daughter, Rusudan, was born c. 1193 and would succeed her brother as a sovereign of Georgia.
David Soslan's status of a king consort, as well as his presence in art, on charters, and on coins, was dictated by the necessity of male aspects of kingship, but he remained a subordinate ruler who shared throne with and derived his power from Tamar. Tamar continued to be styled as mep’et’a mep’e – "king of kings". In Georgian, a language with no grammatical genders, mep'e ("king") does not necessarily imply a masculine connotation and can be rendered as a "sovereign". On the other hand, mep'e does have a female equivalent, dedop'ali ("queen"), which was applied to queens consort or the king’s closest, senior female relatives. Tamar is occasionally called dedop'ali in the Georgian chronicles and on some charters. Thus, the title of mep'e might have been applied to Tamar to mark out her unique position among women.

Foreign policy and military campaigns

Muslim neighbors

Once Tamar succeeded in consolidating her power and found a reliable support in David Soslan, the Mkhargrdzeli and other noble families, she revived the expansionist foreign policy of her predecessors. Repeated occasions of dynastic strife in Georgia combined with the efforts of regional successors of the Great Seljuq Empire, such as the Ildenizid atabegs of Azerbaijan, Shirvanshahs, and the Ahlatshahs, had slowed down the dynamic of the Georgians achieved during the reigns of Tamar's great-grandfather, David IV, and her father, George III. However, the Georgians became again active under Tamar, more prominently in the second decade of her rule.
Early in the 1190s, the Georgian government began to interfere in the affairs of the Ildenizids and of the Shirvanshahs, aiding rivaling local princes and reducing Shirvan to a tributary state. The Ildenizid atabeg Abu Bakr attempted to stem the Georgian advance, but suffered a defeat at the hands of David Soslan at Shamkir and lost his capital to a Georgian protégé in 1195. Although Abu Bakr was able to resume his reign a year later, the Ildenizids were only barely able to contain further Georgian forays.
In 1199, Tamar's armies scored another major victory when two brothers, Zak'are and Ivane Mkhargrdzeli, dislodged the Shaddadid dynasty from Ani, the erstwhile capital of the Armenian kingdom, and received it from the queen as their fief. From their base at Ani, the brothers surged ahead into the central Armenian lands, reclaiming one after another fortress and district from local Muslim dynasts: Bjni was taken in 1201 and Dvin fell in 1203. Alarmed by the Georgian successes, Süleymanshah II, the resurgent Seljuqid sultan of Rûm, rallied his vassal emirs into a coalition and launched an offensive against Georgia, but was ambushed and defeated by David Soslan at the battle of Basian in 1203 or 1204. The chronicler of Tamar describes how the army was assembled at the rock-hewn town of Vardzia before marching on to Basian and how the queen addressed the troops from the balcony of the church.
The Mkhargrdzeli captured Kars on behalf of the Georgian crown in 1206, but were repelled from the walls of Akhlat in 1209. This brought the struggle for the Armenian lands to a stall, leaving the Lake Van region in a relatively secure possession of its new masters – the Ayyubids of Damascus. In 1209, the brothers Mkhargrdzeli laid waste to Ardabil – according to the Georgian and Armenian annals – as a revenge for the local Muslim ruler's attack on Ani and his massacre of the city’s Christian population. In a great final burst, the brothers led an army marshaled throughout Tamar's possessions and vassal territories in a march, through Nakhchivan and Julfa, to Marand, Tabriz, and Qazvin in northern Iran, pillaging several settlements on their way.
Trebizond and the Middle East
Among the remarkable events of Tamar's reign was the foundation of the Empire of Trebizond on the Black Sea in 1204. This state was established by Alexios Comnenus and his brother, David, in the northeastern – Pontic – provinces of the crumbling Byzantine Empire with the aid of Georgian troops. Alexios and David, Tamar's relatives, were fugitive Byzantine princes raised at the Georgian court. According to Tamar's official historian, the aim of the Georgian expedition to Trebizond was to punish the Byzantine emperor Alexius IV Angelus for his confiscation of a shipment of money from the Georgian queen to the monasteries of Antioch and Mount Athos. However, Tamar's Pontic endeavor can better be explained by her desire to take advantage of the Western European Fourth Crusade against Constantinople to set up a friendly state in Georgia's immediate southwestern neighborhood, as well as by the dynastic solidarity to the dispossessed Comnenoi. Tamar seems to have wanted to make use of the crusaders' defeat at the hands of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin and the weakness of the Byzantine Empire in order to gain Georgia's position on the international stage and to assume the traditional role of the Byzantine crown as a protector of the Christians of the Middle East. Georgian Christian missionaries were active in the North Caucasus and the expatriate monastic communities were scattered throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Tamar's official chronicle praises her universal protection of Christianity and her support of churches and monasteries from Egypt to Bulgaria and Cyprus. The Georgian court was primarily concerned with the protection of the Georgian monastic centers in the Holy Land. By the 12th century, eight Georgian monasteries were listed in Jerusalem. Saladin's biographer Bahā' ad-Dīn ibn Šaddād reports that, after the Ayyubid conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, Tamar sent envoys to the sultan to request that the confiscated possessions of the Georgian monasteries in Jerusalem be returned. Saladin's response is not recorded, but the queen's efforts seem to have been successful: Jacques de Vitry, who attained to the bishopric of Acre shortly after Tamar's death, gives further evidence of the Georgians’ presence in Jerusalem. He writes that the Georgians were – in contrast to the other Christian pilgrims – allowed a free passage into the city, with their banners unfurled. Ibn Šaddād furthermore claims that Tamar outbid the Byzantine emperor in her efforts to obtain the relics of the True Cross, offering 200,000 gold pieces to Saladin who had taken the relics as booty at the battle of Hattin – to no avail, however.

Golden age

Feudal monarchy

Though the political and cultural exploits of Tamar's epoch was without precedent in the history of Georgia, they were nevertheless rooted in a long and complex past. Tamar owned her accomplishments most immediately to the reforms of her great-grandfather David IV (r. 1089–1125) and, more remotely, to the unifying efforts of David III and Bagrat III who became architects of a political unity of several Georgian kingdoms and principalities in the opening decade of the 11th century. Tamar was able to build upon their successes. By the last years of her reign, the Georgian state had reached the zenith of its power and prestige in the Middle Ages. Tamar’s realm stretched from the Greater Caucasus crest in the north to Erzurum in the south, and from the Zygii in the northwest to the vicinities of Ganja in the southeast, forming a pan-Caucasian empire, with the loyal Zachariad regime in northern and central Armenia, Shirvan as a vassal and Trebizond as an ally. A contemporary Georgian historian extols Tamar as the master of the lands "from the Sea of Pontus [that is, the Black Sea] to the Sea of Gurgan [the Caspian Sea], from Speri to Derbend, and all the Hither and the Thither Caucasus up to Khazaria and Scythia."

The royal title was correspondingly aggrandized. It now reflected not only Tamar's sway over the traditional subdivisions of the Georgian realm, but also included new components, emphasizing the Georgian crown's hegemony over the neighboring lands. Thus, on the coins and charters issued in her name, Tamar is identified as "by the will of God, King of Kings and Queen of Queens of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Arranians, Kakhetians, and Armenians; Shirvanshah and Shahanshah; Autocrat of all the East and the West, Glory of the World and Faith; Champion of the Messiah."
The queen never achieved autocratic powers and the noble council continued to function. However, Tamar's own prestige and the expansion of patronq'moba – a Georgian version of feudalism – kept the more powerful dynastic princes from fragmenting the kingdom. This was a classical period in the history of Georgian feudalism. Attempts at transplanting feudal practices in the areas where they had previously been almost unknown did not pass without resistance, however. Thus, there was a revolt among the mountaineers of Pkhovi and Dido on Georgia's northeastern frontier in 1212, which was suppressed by Ivane Mkhargrdzeli after three months of heavy fighting.
With flourishing commercial centers now under Georgia’s control, industry and commerce brought new wealth to the country and the court. Tribute extracted from the neighbors and war booty added to the royal treasury, giving rise to the saying that "the peasants were like nobles, the nobles like princes, and the princes like kings."

Culture

With this prosperity came an outburst of the distinct Georgian culture, an amalgam of Christian and secular influences, with affinities to both the Byzantine West and the Iranian East.[44] The Georgian monarchy sought to underscore its association with Christianity and present its position as God-given. It was in that period that the canon of Georgian Orthodox architecture was redesigned and a series of large-scale domed cathedrals were built. The Byzantine-derived expression of royal power was modified in various ways to bolster Tamar's unprecedented position as a woman ruling in her own right. The five extant monumental church portraits of the queen are clearly modeled on the Byzantine imagery, but also highlight specifically Georgian themes with an affinity to Iranian-type ideals of female beauty. The intimate connection of Georgia with the Middle East was also emphasized on contemporary Georgian coinage whose legends are composed in Georgian and Arabic. A series of coins minted c. 1200 in the name of Queen Tamar depicted a local variant of the Byzantine obverse and an Arabic inscription on the reverse proclaiming Tamar as the "Champion of the Messiah". The contemporary Georgian chronicles enshrined Christian morality and patristic literature continued to flourish, but it had, by that time, lost its earlier dominant position to secular literature, which was highly original, even though it developed in close contact with the neighboring cultures. The trend culminated in Shota Rustaveli's epic poem The Knight in the Panther's Skin (Vepkhistq'aosani), which celebrates the ideals of an "Age of Chivalry" and is now revered in Georgia as the greatest achievement of native literature.

Death and burial

Tamar outlived her consort, David Soslan, and died of a "devastating disease" not far from her capital Tbilisi, having previously crowned her son, George, coregent. Tamar's historian relates that the queen suddenly fell ill when discussing the state affairs with her viziers at the Nacharmagevi castle near the town of Gori. She was transported to Tbilisi and then to the nearby castle of Agarani where Tamar died and was mourned by her subjects. Her remains were transferred to the cathedral at Mtskheta and then to the Gelati monastery, a family burial ground of the Georgian royal dynasty. The prevalent scholarly opinion is that Tamar died in 1213, although there are some vague indications that she might have died earlier, in 1207 or 1210.
In later times, a number of legends emerged about Tamar's place of burial. One of them has it that Tamar was buried in a secret niche at Gelati so as to prevent the grave from being profaned by her enemies. Another version suggests that Tamar's remains were reburied in a remote location, possibly in the Holy Land. The French knight Guillaume de Bois in his letter, dating from the early 13th century, written in Palestine and addressed to the bishop of Besançon, claimed that he had heard that the king of the Georgians was heading towards Jerusalem with a huge army and had already conquered many cities of the Saracens. He was carrying, the report said, the remains of his mother, the "powerful queen Tamar" (regina potentissima Thamar), who had been unable to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in her lifetime and had bequeathed her body to be buried near the Holy Sepulchre.
In the 20th century, the quest for Tamar's grave became a subject of scholarly research as well as a focus of a broader public interest. The Georgian writer Grigol Robakidze wrote in his 1918 essay on Tamar: "Thus far, nobody knows where Tamar's grave is. She belongs to everyone and to no one: her grave is in the heart of the Georgian. And in the Georgians' perception, this is not a grave, but a beautiful vase in which an unfading flower, the great Tamar, flourishes." Although the orthodox academic view still places Tamar's grave at Gelati, a series of archaeological studies, beginning with Taqaishvili in 1920, has failed to locate it at the monastery.

Legacy and popular culture

Medieval

Over the centuries, Queen Tamar has emerged as a dominant figure in the Georgian historical pantheon. However, the construction of her reign as a "Golden age" began in the reign itself and Tamar became the focus of the era. Several medieval Georgian poets, including Shota Rustaveli, claimed Tamar as the inspiration for their works. A legend has it that Rustaveli was even consumed with love for the queen and ended his days in a monastery. A dramatic scene from Rustaveli's poem where the seasoned king Rostevan crowns his daughter Tinatin is an allegory to George III's co-option of Tamar. Rustaveli comments on this: "A lion cub is just as good, be it female or male".
The queen became a subject of several contemporary panegyrics, such as Chakhrukhadze's Tamariani and Ioane Shavteli's Abdul-Mesia. She was eulogized in the chroniclers, most notably in the two accounts centered on her reign – The Life of Tamar, Queen of Queens and The Histories and Eulogies of the Sovereigns – which became the primary sources of Tamar's sanctification in the Georgian literature. The chroniclers exalt her as a "protector of the widowed" and "the thrice blessed", and place a particular emphasis on Tamar's virtues as a woman: beauty, humility, love of mercy, fidelity, and purity. Although Tamar was canonized by the Georgian church much later, she was even named as a saint in her lifetime in a bilingual Greco-Georgian colophon attached to the manuscript of the Vani Gospels.
The idealization of Tamar was further accentuated by the events that took place under her immediate successors; within two decades of Tamar's death, the Khwarezmian and Mongol invasions brought the Georgian ascendancy to an abrupt end. Later periods of national revival were too ephemeral to match the achievements of Tamar's reign. All of these contributed to the cult of Tamar which blurred the distinction between the idealized queen and the real personality.
In popular memory, Tamar's image has acquired a legendary and romantic façade. A diverse set of folk songs, poems and tales illustrate her as an ideal ruler, a holy woman onto whom certain attributes of pagan deities and Christian saints were sometimes projected. For example, in an old Ossetian legend, Queen Tamar conceives her son of a sunbeam which shines through the window. Another myth, from the Georgian mountains, equates Tamar with the pagan deity of weather, Pirimze, who controls winter. Similarly, in the highland district of Pshavi, Tamar's image fused with a pagan goddess of healing and female fertility.
While Tamar occasionally accompanied her army and is described as planning some campaigns, she was never directly involved in the fighting. Yet, the memory of the military victories of her reign contributed to Tamar's other popular image, that of a model warrior-queen. It also echoed in the Tale of Queen Dinara, a popular 16th-century Russian story about a fictional Georgian queen fighting against the Persians.

Modern

Much of the modern perception of Queen Tamar was shaped under the influence of 19th-century Romanticism and growing nationalism among Georgian intellectuals of that time. In the Russian and Western literatures of the 19th century, the image of Queen Tamar reflected the European conceptions of the Orient – of which Georgia was perceived as a part – and the position and characteristics of women in it. The Tyrolean writer Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer described Tamar as a "Caucasian Semiramis". Fascinated by the "exotic" Caucasus, the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov wrote the romantic poem Tamara (Russian: Тамара; 1841) in which he utilized the old Georgian legend about a siren-like mountainous princess whom the poet gave the name of Queen Tamar. Although Lermontov's depiction of the Georgian queen as a destructive seductress had no apparent historical background, it has been influential enough to raise the issue of Tamar's sexuality, a question that was given some prominence by the 19th-century European authors. Mily Balakirev turned Lermontov’s poem into a symphony which was introduced to the European audiences as part of the Ballets Russes – designed by Léon Bakst in a lavishly Oriental manner – in 1912. Knut Hamsun's 1903 play Dronning Tamara ("Queen Tamara") was less successful; the theatre critics saw in it "a modern woman dressed in a medieval costume" and read the play as "a commentary on the new woman of the 1890s."
In Georgian literature, Tamar was also romanticized, but very differently from the Russian and Western European view. The Georgian romanticists followed a medieval tradition in Tamar's portrayal as a gentle, saintly woman who ruled a country permanently at war. This sentiment was further inspired by the rediscovery of a contemporary, 13th-century wall painting of Tamar in the then-ruined Betania monastery, which was uncovered and restored by Prince Grigory Gagarin in the 1840s. The fresco became a source of numerous engravings circulating in Georgia at that time and inspired the poet Grigol Orbeliani to dedicate a romantic poem to it. Furthermore, the Georgian literati, reacting to the Russian rule in Georgia and the suppression of national institutions, contrasted Tamar's era to their contemporary situation, lamenting the irretrievably lost past in their writings. Hence, Tamar became a personification of the heyday of Georgia, a perception that has persisted down to the present time.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamar_of_Georgia

Last edited by fatman2021; 02/03/10 10:45 PM.
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The Thirteen Assyrian Fathers (Georgian: ათსამმეტი ასურელი მამანი, atsamet'i asureli mamani) were, according to Georgian church tradition, a group of monastic missionaries who arrived from Mesopotamia to Georgia to strengthen Christianity in the country in the 6th century. They are credited by the Georgian church historians with the foundation of several monasteries and hermitages and initiation of the ascetic movement in Georgia.
The lives of the Assyrian Fathers are related in a cycle of medieval Georgian hagiographic texts and are unattested beyond these sources. Some of these vitae are formalities composed for an 18th-century synaxary, but four of them exist in original form, as well a metaphrastic versions. The dating as well as authorship of these texts is controversial. The Georgian Catholicoi Arsen I (830-87) and Arsen II (955-80) have been suggested as authors of some of the vitae. Other, unattributed, texts may have been composed earlier, in the late 7th century.
Many monasteries in modern Georgia are named after the Assyrian Fathers and are said to have been founded and led by them and their numerous disciples. In the Middle Ages, these religious foundations played an important role in forging Georgian Christian identity.
Tradition, written and oral, names as many as 19 Assyrian monks active in Georgia in the 6th century and the number "13" seems to be largely symbolic. Modern scholarly opinion is divided as to whether they were Syrians or Syrian-educated Georgians, whether missionaries or refugees — monophysite or diophysite — from Syria, from which monophysitism had retreated while Georgia was still primarily monophysite at that time.
Chief of the Assyrian Fathers were:
Davit Garejeli (დავით გარეჯელი) / David of Gareja
Ioane Zedazneli (იოანე ზედაზნელი) / John of Zedazeni
Abibos Nekreseli (აბიბოს ნეკრესელი) / Abibos of Nekresi
Shio Mgvimeli (შიო მღვიმელი) / Shio of Mgvime
Ioseb Alaverdeli (იოსებ ალავერდელი) / Joseph of Alaverdi
Anton Martqopeli (ანტონ მარტყოფელი) / Anton of Martqopi
Tadeoz Stepantsmindeli (თადეოზ სტეფანწმინდელი) / Thaddeus of Stepantsminda
Piros Breteli (პიროს ბრეთელი) / Pyrrhus of Breti
Ise Tsilkneli (ისე წილკნელი) / Jesse of Tsilkani
Stepane Khirseli (სტეფანე ხირსელი) / Stephen of Khirsa
Isidore Samtavneli (ისიდორე სამთავნელი) / Isidor of Samtavisi
Mikael Ulumboeli (მიქაელ ულუმბოელი) / Michael of Ulumbo
Zenon Iqaltoeli (ზენონ იყალთოელი) / Zeno of Iqalto


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteen_Syrian_Fathers

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