Saint Nina the Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia
The Deposition of the Precious Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ in Moscow (1625)
Commemorated on July 10
The finding of Christ’s chiton is connected to the memory of St. Nina. Nina was a relative of St. George the Great Martyr. Her parents belonged to the nobility in Cappadocia and since they both were tonsured in the monastic state.
Hearing about the Christ’s Robe, the virgin Nina, from an early age, began to pray fervently to the Theotokos, asking for her blessing to travel to Georgia and be made worthy to venerate the Sacred Robe that she had woven for her beloved Son. The Most Holy Virgin heard her prayers and appeared to Nino in a dream, saying, “Go to the country that was assigned to me by lot and preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will send down His grace upon you and I will be your protector.” But the blessed Nino was overwhelmed at the thought of such a great responsibility and answered, “How can I, a fragile woman, perform such a momentous task, and how can I believe that this vision is real?” In response, the Most Holy Theotokos presented her with a cross of grapevines and proclaimed, “Receive this cross as a shield against visible and invisible enemies!”
When she awoke, Nino was holding the cross in her hands. When our Lord opened the way, the young Nina, indeed, traveled to Georgia where, in a short period of time, she gained the love of the Georgian people. Nina succeeded in baptizing the Georgian Emperor Mirian, his wife Nana and their son Bakar, who, later on, zealously assisted in Nina’s missionary work. by her prayers St. Nino has been shown in a vision where Holy Coat is hidden, and the first Christian church in Iberia in honor of 12 Apostles has been built — Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. During her lifetime, Nina traveled throughout Georgia, mainly to convert the entire nation to the Faith of Christ. After accomplishing her apostleship in Georgia, St. Nino was informed from on high of her impending decease. Nina reposed in the Lord on January 14th in the year 335 A.D. Her body is entombed in the Cathedral Church in Bodbe. Later, a women’s monastery dedicated to St. Nino was founded at this place. She worked many miracles during her life and after her death. In 342 on the spot of her decease and interment the church was built in the name of her kinsman, St. George who had since become the most venerated saint in Iberia. The grapevine cross brought by Nino is kept till now in the Zion Cathedral of Tbilisi in the special tabernacle.
The Chiton-tunic of the Lord, was in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral right up to the XVII Century, when the Persian shah Abbas I, in devastating Gruzia, carried off with other treasures also the Robe of the Lord. In order to ingratiate himself with tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, the shah in 1625 dispatched the Robe of the Lord as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) and tsar Mikhail. The authenticity of the Robe was testified to by Nektarii, Archbishop of Vologda, also by the Jerusalem Patriarch Theophanes who had come from Byzantium, and by Ioannikes the Greek, but especially also by the miraculous signs, manifest by the Lord through the venerable relic.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
11 June 1985
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
What do we mean when we say that we believe? The word has become so weak. More often than not to believe means that we accept a proposition on trust and yet with a certain hesitation, with a degree of uncertainty: ‘I believe that he will come,’ ‘I believe he is right,’… How different this perception of believing is from the faith of Abraham or from the faith which the Son of God become the Son of man shows in mankind. Let us dwell one moment on Abraham who was called in the Old Testament “the father of all believers.”
The test came so clearly and could be such a lesson to us. He was promised a son in his old age and the son was born, and he grew, and the Lord had promised that this child would be the first of a vast race, as numerous as the sands of the shores, as many as the stars in heaven. And of a sudden when the child was already growing, when all hopes seemed to be ready to be fulfilled in him, when he was joy and expectation, the Lord gave his word, “Take this child, Abraham, take him onto the high mountain and bring him a blood offering to Me.” And here is the test not only in the fact that Abraham obeyed because he recognised the voice of the same Lord who had commanded him to leave his land and to go to the place that the Lord would reveal unto him, the test was even more acute. Was he going to believe God’s promise or God’s word? The promise could be misunderstood, the promise could be fulfilled differently. He did not know. What he knew for certain was that the Lord had spoken again and he trusted the Lord more than he trusted the promise he had been given. He left it to the Lord to find a solution to the problem that was insoluble for him. And the Lord did find the solution.
Now, no-one of us is put to the test in such a way. And yet, so often we are not prepared to accept God’s word to us because we think that God could not speak that way. We say that there must be something wrong in the way in which his words were reported, that we should use our intelligence, our judgment. The result being that we submit God’s word to our human judgment and not our human judgment to God’s own wisdom. And yet we might well know that the words of Isaiah the prophet are true throughout the ages, the words which God spoke to him, “My ways are not your ways, My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are so far above yours as My thoughts are above your thoughts. And so here we are confronted with sharpness by Abraham, by his unreserved, complete trust in God so different from our own attitude. Are we prepared to accept what Paul called ‘the folly of the preaching’, a preaching concerning ways and attitudes in this fallen, distorted world that seem not to solve its problems? Are we prepared to be fools for Christ’s sake, remembering that the folly of God is wiser than the sagacity of men and the wisdom of men? This applies to all our ways, to the way in which believe or not in the Gospel as it was proclaimed by the early Christian community. It applies also to our readiness to live according to the Gospel, to follow a way in a distorted world that is straight, to live in a way which is a scandal or a folly. Are we prepared for that?…
You know, faith according to the XI chapter to the Epistles to the Hebrews is certainty concerning things unseen. To see the image of God in one’s neighbour is an act of faith that makes us followers of Christ because He looked at the harlot, at the sinner, at the tax-gatherer, at Zacchaeus and Matthew and in each of them He saw the possibility of salvation. One of the reasons why our world is so cold and so dark, and so painful is that very few believe in one another. We treat one another as though we were a precious painting that has been damaged by time, by moisture, by circumstances, by the folly of man, and we concentrate only on the damage – it is cut, is it slash, it is ugly, it’s almost destroyed. That is what we see. And God looks and sees what has survived of the unsurpassed beauty of His image and loves it…
So when we speak of faith and of believing we must learn to believe in the way in which the early Christians believed. Take St. Barnabas. It was reported to him that Saul, the persecutor had come blinded by a vision and everyone probably said, “Don’t come near him, don’t you know that he came, he was on his way to destroy everything that we are building. He is a hater of Christ.” Barnabas believed in him, he went to see him, he called him his brother, not Cain but a brother in Christ, and he restored the sight of Paul and gave him to know Christ and sent him on his glorious missionary journey. He believed in him because God had believed in him first…
Now, we should be able to be to people around us an occasion for that kind of faith. People should meeting us, see in us that love which that man found in Christ. They should see compassion, they should see that we believe in them even against all evidence. And then they also could believe through us in God and through God in mankind and in life. Then they could, like Thomas, say, “My Lord and my God!” and have no doubt anymore. So that faith is an act of heroic trust, faith is an act of faithfulness to God’s word and to God’s person, faith is also the certainty which is born from that kind of experience. Let us read in the Gospel the passages where we can find faith revealed and ask ourselves, “How did these men and women find this degree of trust in God?” And we will discover that we also possess enough evidence to believe; only we imagine that believing is something so extraordinary, it is the condition of the saints. No, it is the condition of normal, ordinary, sinful people, who can give their trust to God, obey and then discover that they were not insane in doing this. (http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_293.htm )
Troparion of St. Nina, Tone 4
O handmaid of the Word of God, who in preaching equaled the first-called Apostle Andrew, and emulated the other Apostles, enlightener of Iberia and reed-pipe of the Holy Spirit, holy Nina, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.
Kontakion of Saint Nina , Tone 2
Come ye all, and let us hymn today the all-praised Nina, the preacher of the Word of God, the equal of the apostles, who was chosen by Christ, the wise evangelist who has led the people of Kartalinia to the path of life and truth, the disciple of the Mother of God, our fervent helper and tireless guardian.
Apolytikion of Robe of Christ in Moscow
On this day let us the faithful run to the divine and healing robe of our Saviour and God, Who was pleased to wear our flesh and pour out His holy Blood on the Cross, whereby He hath redeemed us from slavery to the enemy. Wherefore, we thankfully cry to Him: By Thy precious robe save and defend Orthodox Christians, and bishops, and cities, and all men everywhere, and save our souls, for Thou art the Friend of man.
Kontakion of Robe of Christ in Moscow
Thou hast bestowed upon all men, O Master, Thy precious robe as a divine treasure, as a garment of incorruption, healing, and salvation, for thereby wast Thou pleased to clothe the holy and life-giving flesh of Thine Incarnation. Receiving this relic with faith, we joyfully celebrate this glorious occasion, and praising Thee with fear and love as our Benefactor, we cry to Thee, O Christ: In Thy great mercy, keep Orthodox Christians and their pastors and all Thy people in peace.