Saint Nina the Equal to the Apostles of Georgia
Commemorated on January 14
Sts. Zabulon and Sosanna parents Saint Nina of Cappadocia and Enlightener of Georgia
Commemorated on May 20 (2 June)
St. Nina with lot of discomfort arrives in Georgia and sow the true faith of Christ
St. Nino had a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a Grapevine Cross and told her to preach in Iberia, the ancient Georgia. Saint Nino reached the borders of ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia in about 323 A.D. There, she placed a Christian cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki.
Afterwards Nino departed (from the Armenia) and came to the mountains of Javakheti, where there was a great lake called Lake Paravani. When Nino reached this place, and saw the mountains to the north covered in snow, and felt how cold the air was, she trembled and exclaimed, “O God, receive my spirit!” There she remained for two days, begging food from some fishermen who were catching fish in the lake. There were also shepherds here. While they looked after their flocks at night, they used to call for help upon their gods, who were called Armazi and Zaden, and promise to offer up sacrifices to them if their affairs prospered. So Nino spoke to one of the shepherds, and asked him what region he came from. He replied, “We are from the great city of Mtskheta, where these gods hold sway and the kings reign.” St. Nino asked them where the city of Mtskheta was situated, and they replied, “Mtskheta lies on the river which flows out of this lake.”
When St.Nino saw how fearsome was the length of the road and how terrible were the mountains she was afraid. So she lifted her eyes up to heaven and begged for the help of God on high, who looks after us all. Then she set forth and reached the other side of the river, where it flows towards the west. On the road she encountered many troublesome obstacles, including terrifying wild beasts, until at last she reached the spot where the river starts flowing towards the east. There she was encouraged by meeting with some travelers, in whose company she arrived at the outskirts of a town called Urbnisi. Here she saw strange gods being worshipped, and a cult being paid to fire, stones and wood. This much distressed St. Nino. She went into the quarter where the Jews lived, and talked to them in Hebrew, which she knew well. she stayed there a month, and learnt the ways and habits of that country.
One day a crowd of people set out from the town to go shopping in the great city of Mtskheta and offer sacrifices to their god Armazi. St. Nino Wont with them, and when they had got to the city of Mtskheta they stopped by the Bridge of the Magi. When St. Nino observed the sorcerers, fire-worshippers and seducers of the people, she wept over their sad fate and grieved for their strange customs. On the next day there was a loud noise of trumpets and a fearful uproar of shouting, and mobs of people as countless as the flowers of the field, who were rushing and jostling as they waited for the king and queen to come forth.
First came Queen Nana and then King Mirian, terrible and in great splendour. Nino asked a certain Jewish woman what all this meant. She answered that it was their custom to go up into the presence of their supreme god, who was unlike any other idol. When St. Nino heard this, she climbed up with the people to see the idol called Armazi, and placed herself near it in a crevice in the rock. There was a great noise, and the king and all the people quaked with fear before the image. Nino saw the standing figure of a man made of copper. His body u as clothed in a golden coat of armour, and he had a gold helmet on his head. His shoulder-pieces and eyes were made from emeralds and beryl stones. In his hand he held a sword as bright as a lightning flash, which turned round in his grasp, and nobody dared touch the idol on pain of death.
They proclaimed, “If there is anyone here who despises the glory of the great god Armazi, or sides with those Hebrews who ignore the priests of sun-worship or worship a certain strange deity who is the Son of the God of Heaven—if any of these evil persons are arming us, let them be struck down by the sword of him who is feared by all the world.”
When they had spoken these words, they all worshipped the idol in fear and trembling. On its right there stood another image, made of gold, with the face of a man. Its name was Gatsi, and to the left of it was a silver idol with a human face, the name of which was Gaim. These were the gods of the Georgian people.
When the blessed Nino saw this, she began to sigh towards God and shed tears because of the errors of this northern land, for the light was hidden from its people and the reign of darkness enclosed them. she lifted up her eyes to heaven and said, “O God, by Thy great might throw down these enemies of Thine, and make this people wise by Thy great mercy, so that the whole nation may worship the only God through the power of Jesus Christ Thy Son, to whom belong praise and thanks for evermore.”
After St. Nino had uttered this prayer, God immediately sent winds and hurricanes out of the west, with clouds sinister and grim in appearance. The noisy roar of thunder was heard, and at sunset a wind blew with a fetid and unpleasant smell. When the crowd saw this, they ran away as fast as they could towards their homes in the city. God granted them but little time, and when they were all safely home, His anger burst fiercely out from the sinister cloud. Hail fell in lumps as big as two fists on to the abode of the idols, and smashed them into little pieces. The walls were destroyed by the terrible gale, and thrown down among the rocks. But Nino remained unharmed, watching from the same spot where she had stood at the beginning.
Three days later she got up, crossed the River Kura, and found outside the walls of the city a bramble bush growing in the shape of a small tent. she made a cross of vine-shoots and stayed there to pray. While she was living there, St. Nino often visited the Jewish quarter to converse in Hebrew, and to find out where the Lord’s Tunic Was kept, because she had heard in Jerusalem how it had been carried away by the Jews of Mtskheta, who would know where it was. she met there a certain Jewish priest called Abiathar, and his daughter Sidonia, to whom she preached the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They accepted it and became her disciples, as well as six other Jewish women whom Nino taught.
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).