Nino and Tamar – role of women in medieval Georgia

The secret of Khvamli Mountain
October 22, 2015
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June 23, 2016

Nino and Tamar – role of women in medieval Georgia

We hear a lot about gender equality and rights of women in modern world and Georgia is no exception at all. Our country has the right to be proud of the fact that since the very first centuries of A.D., women were entitled to contribute their mite in public life along with men. The clear evidence is St. Nino from Cappadocia, who in the age of 17, arrived to Georgia and led the nation, worshipping pagan idols, to orthodoxy. Nino, being 12, traveled to Jerusalem with her parents, where Jesus Christ was crucified, where Jesus Christ died for our salvation. Every corner here reminded of stories from the Gospel. You might not know, but Nino’s father, driven with the love of God, left for the desert and became the monk, and her mother was assigned to take care of the poor and ill women by the Patriarch. Nino was pledged to a scholar woman with knowledge of religion, who served in the Church of the Resurrection of the Savior. St. Nino started service too. The caregiver loved the child as her own and tried to raise her with religion and piety, she used to tell her the stories about the life of Jesus Christ. St. Nino was interested in the whereabouts of the Robe of the Savior. The woman told Nino that the Robe was granted to the Jews from Mtskheta and that it is kept in the country of North, located between Persia and Ossetia. Besides, she told her that the residents of this country, as other tribes of Caucasus, live in the darkness of pagan belief. The story left a deep trace on Nino’s heart. St. Nino, day and night, was praying to St. Virgin. One day, when praying, she had a vision of the Mother of God, telling her: “Nino, I assign you to preach in the country of North, which belongs to me – Georgia. Be brave and preach the truth!” How can I, an alien for them, an illiterate virgin, implement the deed so immense? – then Nino asked. Then St. Virgin gave the vine cross to her and said: Take this cross! You will defeat the evil with this, you will defeat all the deceits and your preaching will be successful. I will help you, never abandoning you. After the vision disappeared, Nino discovered that she was holding the miraculous cross and kissed it with the tears of happiness. She immediately left for the Patriarch, who was her uncle and told about her vision. The Patriarch heard her story and surprised, starting thanking the God and St. Virgin. After that, St. Nino, with the blessing by Patriarch, left for Ephesus to preach Christianity together with noble churchgoer woman and spent two years there, after that she attended the Christian women to Armenia, amongst which were the noble Rhipsime and her caregiver, Gayane, who became Christian after Nino’s preaching. These women were executed by the King of Armenia, Trdat for confessing Christ. Only St. Nino survived with the will of God and stealthily traveled to Georgia. The road was long and hard. St. Nino was cold, hungry, thirsty and under threat from the beasts until she reached Georgia. She stopped in Kartli region, Urbnisi city and as she spoke fluent Jewish, visited the local Jews. She stayed in Urbnisi one month, studying the language and traditions of local people. Once, she heard that the local residents were going to worship Armazi idol and to attend the fair. Nino decided to accompany them to Mtskheta. She followed the people and reached the royal city. People moved to the mountains, adjacent to Mtskheta to worship the idols. St. Nino followed them and saw three idols – Armazi, Gatsi and Ga. The Armazi idol stood in the middle – the immense monument with the golden helmet and the golden armor on the chest. One eye was of ruby and another of emerald, both precious stones were huge and sparkling. People, together with the King, stood in silence in front of the idols and after the bloody sacrifice was done, the trumpets were loud and everyone fell flat in front of the idols. St. Nino stood under the ledge of the rock, witnessing the scene with tears in her eyes: her heart felt pity for this people, as she already loved them and which worshiped the idols, without knowing the true God. Nino looked up and started prayers. As soon as she ended her prayers, the sky was covered with the black cloud. The day became dark, the lightning and thunder started. People scattered in fear. The hail and the storm demolished the idols into the tiniest pieces, which were washed into the river by the rain. After that, the sun appeared again and the nature went still. The king and the people in vain were looking for their “Gods”, horrified: our God is great, but there is the greater God, defeating our God. What has just happened and what is ahead? After some time, St. Nino entered Mtskheta. She came to the garden of the King. The wife of the gardener, Anastasia met her with joy, as if she knew her, awaiting for her for such a long time. She took Nino to her house. St. Nino stayed with her to live. In this garden, she was for constant prayers in the blackberry brushes, pleading to God to rescue Georgian people from evil’s trap. Anastasia and her husband did not have children, which was their greatest pain. St. Nino prayed for them and God gave them children. The son of one noble man fell ill. He was brought to Nino for cure. Nino took the child, put him in her bed and prayed. The God accepted her prayers and cured the child. Nino also cured the daughter of one woman with prayers. Rumors were wide spread about miracles done by Nino. Her irreproachable life attracted people’s hearts. She was listened with pleasure. People close to her, were converted into Christianity and soon Nino had the apprentices around. The daughter of the Rabbi of Jews from Kartli, Sidonia was amongst them. She brought her father to Nino, who after hearing the Christian preaches, believed in God and became Christian. Once, the Queen fell in grave illness. The curers failed to help her. The Queen asked to bring St. Nino, who decided to challenge faith and humility of the Queen and told the envoys: if the Queen wants to be cured, let she come to me. The Queen humiliated herself, visited Nino and asked for cure. St. Nino put her in her bed and started hearty prayers. The God accepted the prayers and cured the Queen Nana. The Queen loved St. Nino, took her close to her and believed in God, loudly preaching about Christ, as the true God. Many people, acting after their Queen, were converted into Christianity but the King Mirian was hesitating and even burst in hatred to Christians. St. Nino prayed to God to find the way to convert the King:

Once upon, the King Mirian was hunting in the woods. Suddenly, the day turned into the dark night, not a single ray of light around, the men, accompanying the King, were scattered. The King, in desperation, called on his gods but heard only wind and thunder in response. The God had mercy on the King, sent him the common sense and then, disappointed with his idols, the King asked Nino’s God for help. Without delay, the day became bright again and the sun appeared from the clouds. In the Capital, the King walking in the streets, loudly preached: people, glorify Nino’s God as it is the true God and shall be worshiped and glorified. Nowadays, we take our tourists to almost all the places in Mtskheta and Kakheti, to visit the places where St. Nino lived, where her grave is, where the first church was erected in Georgia, where the Robe of the Savior lies. Nino is still one of the most common female names in Georgia. The enlightener, canonized by the Georgian Church, is often in the spotlight by the scientists. Her phenomenon and behavior is not still due researched. We still do not know how the foreigner, the little girl managed to have the greatest impact on and spiritual conversion of the nation. The special place in history of Georgian people is attributed to the King Tamar, reigning in the XII century. Relying on the feudal ways and by diplomatic means, she always managed to subordinate the political circles and use them for the benefit of the country. That’s why she soon became the powerful monarch. Upon her reign, the country was the strongest in our history and was the force in the region, worth to be taken into account. Georgia’s borders started from Ponto (Black Sea) to Gurgan (Caspian Sea) and from Ispir to Derbent. Georgia included Khazars and Scythians in the composition. The face of the King Tamar in the initial accuracy can be seen on the XII century fresco in the Church of the XII century, located in the cave city Vardzia. The fresco is unique and belongs to the world’s rarest frescoes. We can restlessly tale the stories about other famous Georgian women, holding their activity in the medieval and nearest eras. Georgian roads, churches and mountains teem with their footsteps. During the wartime and tensions, Georgian women fought side by side with Georgian men, overcoming any trials in equal manner. Georgian people erected the monument of the Georgian mother on one of the mountains, as the symbol of purity and power.

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