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How great relics reached Georgia2011-01-06 17:18
As the legend goes Georgia adopted Christianity literally straight from the source. According to Orthodox legends the first word of Christ was brought to the Iverian land by St Andrew the First-Called, an apostle. It was Holy Mary's wish that Andrew should go to the land that would later be called Georgia. She sent him to the domain she had chosen. And two centuries later Saint Nina equal to the Apostles set her foot on Iveria to complete conversion of Georgia that Andrew initiated.
Holy Mary has four domains, i.e. four places on earth to which She is particularly benevolent and patronizing. And only one domain is a whole country. According to an Orthodox legend, Holy Mary's veil covers the whole of Georgia, or ancient Iveria that was one of the first places to hear the word of Christ and start worshipping Him.
Iveria was chosen as Holy Mary's domain when she and the apostles were deciding by toss who will go preaching resurrected Christ and where. Holy Mary was happy to see her lot and started arrangements for the journey when she saw her Son in a dream asking her to stay in Jerusalem and send one of the apostles instead of her.
Christ took care of his mother who by that time was quite old to endure such a long journey. Still, Virgin Mary wished that Iveria could see her face. According to the legend, Holy Mary took a clean wooden board and brought it against her face. Her image reflected identically on the board, and Andrew took it with him on his journey.
Reaching the first town of Iveria Andrew was lucky: locals came to believe in Christ and asked Andrew to leave the image of Holy Mary that was transmitting her blessing to the chosen country through the apostle. But Andrew did it this way: following the example of Holy Mary he asked for a clean wooden board and brought the miracle-making icon against it. The image was accurately reflected on the board, and Andrew left the print to the new converts.
Andrew kept preaching and baptizing throughout Iveria, and finally reached the town of Atskhura, a short way from Borjomi gorge, where he left the image of Virgin Mary. He had to go farther north. Now the uncreated image is kept in Gaenati monastery near Kutaisi and is called Atskhuri icon.
The miraculous icon is not the only Christian treasure Georgia is guarding. One of the greatest relics - Christ's robe - is also in Georgia. According to the legends, it was brought to Iveria on request of a young lady who became the first saint of Georgia. Gracious Sidonia from Mtskheta first heard about Christ when He was alive and did the preaching. She asked his brother, a rabbi, who went to Jerusalem as a pilgrim, to bring some reminder of Him.
The circumstances didn't let her brother have a talk with Christ - he reached Jerusalem on the Easter when the Savior was crucified. But willing to please his sister, rabbi Elioz bought the robe of crucified Christ, woven by Holy Mary, from a Roman soldier.
Upon learning the details how her brother got the robe the girl wailed so desperately that she died pressing the precious gift tightly to her. Her brother buried her together with the robe. And for a long time nobody knew where Sidonia's tomb was until Saint Nina equal to Apostles, now considered more respected than all other saints, came to Iveria.