Mamuka Matsaberidze (Editor)
Georgian Technical University, Georgia
Metropolitan Anania Japaridze
Series: Religion and Spirituality
Georgia is located in the south of the Caucasus, between the Black and Caspian Seas. The history of its statehood counts back almost 3,500 years, and that of its Christian history, 2,000 years. The Mother of God is considered the principal protector and intercessor of Georgia since the country was first allocated to her to preach in. Though later, by the will of God, she gave her icon to the Holy Apostle St. Andrew and dispatched him to preach the Gospel in Georgia.
St. Andrew preached in different parts of Georgia. St. Andrew preached the Gospel, together with St. Simon of Canaan who was buried in Komani Village, Georgia, in western Georgia. Another Apostle, St. Matthias was also buried in Georgia. He preached in the south-western part of the country and was buried in Gonio, nearby Batumi. According to the oldest scripts, holy Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus also visited East Georgia and preached the Gospel there.
The Georgian Church has been founded by the Holy Apostles. Their journeys and sermons are scripted in the Georgian Chronicles, also by Greek and Latin authors, such as Origuene (II-III cc), Bishop Dorotheus of Tire (IV c), Bishop Epiphan of Cyprus (IV c), Nikita of Paphlagon (IX c), Ecumen (X c), etc.
The sermons of the Holy Apostles left a significant path. The existence of Christian communities and churches have been proven by archaeological materials dating back to I-III cc. S.t Ireneous of Lyon which mentions Iberians, i.e. Georgians, as being of the Christian faith in II century.
It was in that period, during the reign of King Mirian and Queen Nana (IV century), that Christianity was announced as the state religion in East Georgia thanks to the efforts of St. Nino, Equal-to-the-Apostles. This marked a new stage in the history of the country. The bishop, priests, and deacons sent by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great, baptized the people and blessed local clergy members. St. Nino of Capadoccia was a close relative of St. George. According to the advice of St. Nino, the foundation of the first church of the Twelve Apostles, Svetitskhoveli, where the Mantle of the Prophet Elijah and the Chiton of Christ were buried, was laid there. Svetitskhoveli Patriarchate Cathedral is the spiritual centre of Georgia. The Cathedral manifests the immortality of our nation and culture.
After the official adoption of Christianity, Emperor Constantine and Queen Elena were sent a piece of the Holy Cross, the board onto which the Savior stood during the crucifixion, two nails, and the Savior’s icon.
The Georgian Church dates the baptizing of the Georgians and the preaching of the Gospel to our land back to 326 AD. The fact is confirmed by historian Sozomone of Salaman (V century). Furthermore, according to “The Church History” by Sozomone of Salaman, the Georgians were officially baptized after the First World Ecclesiastic Council in Nicaea (325 AD). (Imprint: Troitsa )