100,000 Martyrs of Tbilisi by the Mongols (+1227)
Commemorated on October 31(13 November)
”When someone venerates the holy Icons with devoutness and fervent love, he absorbs the colours from them and the Saints are imprinted on his soul.
When a Christian devoutly kisses the holy Icons he draws into his heart the whole of Christ, or of Panagia, or of a Saint, and places them upon the iconostasis of his own temple.”
St. Paisios the Athonite
In 1227 Sultan Jalal al-Din of Khwarazm and his army of Turkmen attacked Georgia. On the first day of the battle the Georgian army valorously warded off the invaders as they were approaching Tbilisi. That night, however, a group of Persians who were living in Tbilisi secretly opened the gates and summoned the enemy army into the city.
According to one manuscript in which this most terrible day in Georgian history was described: “Words are powerless to convey the destruction that the enemy wrought: tearing infants from their mothers’ breasts, they beat their heads against the bridge, watching as their eyes dropped from their skulls.…”
A river of blood flowed through the city. The Turkmen castrated young children, raped women, and stabbed mothers to death over their children’s lifeless bodies. The whole city shuddered at the sound of wailing and lamentation. The river and streets of the city were filled with death.
The sultan ordered that the cupola of Sioni Cathedral be taken down and replaced by his vile throne. And at his command the icons of the Theotokos and our Savior were carried out of Sioni Cathedral and placed at the center of the bridge across the Mtkvari River. The invaders goaded the people to the bridge, ordering them to cross it and spit on the holy icons. Those who betrayed the Christian Faith and mocked the icons were spared their lives, while the Orthodox confessors were beheaded.
One hundred thousand Georgians sacrificed their lives to venerate the holy icons. One hundred thousand severed heads and headless bodies were carried by the bloody current down the Mtkvari River.
O ye thousands of stars, the chosen people guarding the Georgian Church with your golden wings, intercede for us always before the face of God!
Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze
St. Paisios the Athonite
When someone venerates the holy Icons with devoutness and fervent love, he absorbs the colours from them and the Saints are imprinted on his soul. The Saints are pleased when they are lifted up from the paper or the wood and imprinted in people’s hearts. When a Christian devoutly kisses the holy Icons and prays for help from Christ, Panagia, the Saints, he draws into his heart not only the Grace of Christ, of Panagia, and of the Saints, but also the whole of Christ, or of Panagia, or of a Saint, and places them upon the iconostasis of his own temple. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6;19.3;16).
Cultivate your devoutness and your modesty as much as you can. This will help you receive the Grace of God. For, if someone is devout and spiritually modest and humble too, he can expect to receive divine Grace. If he has no devoutness and no humility, the Grace of God does not come to him. What does the Sacred Scripture say? But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word. ISA 66;2.
Give thanks to God for everything. Try to be manly. Pull yourself together a bit. Do you know what Christians are suffering in other countries? There are such difficulties in Russia! But here many exhibit indifference. There’s not enough disposition to kindness, love of devotion. You see, if we don’t begin to make war against evil, to expose those who tempt believers, then the evil will grow larger. If we throw aside fear then the faithful will be emboldened a bit. And those who wage war against the Church will have a harder time.
In the past our nation lived spiritually, so God blessed her, and the saints helped us in miraculous fashion. And we were victorious against our enemies, who always outnumbered us. Today we continue to call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.
Taken from Saint Paisios of Mount Athos : Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 2: Spiritual Awakening, translated into English and published in 2008 by Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.