June 1, 2009

The Feast of Saint Nina of Georgia on May 19th

On June 1 (May 19), the Orthodox Church of Georgia marks the day of the entrance of St. Nina (also known as Nino), Equal to the Apostles, to Georgia.

St. Nina was born in the small town of Colastri, in the Roman province of Cappadocia. She was the only child of the famous Roman general Zabulon. On her father's side, Nina was related to St. George the Great Martyr and on her mother's, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Houbnal I.

St. Nina had a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a Grapevine Cross and told her to preach in Iberia, the ancient name for Georgia.

On her way to Iberia, passing through Anatolia into the Caucasus, Nina managed to convert some villages to Christianity in Northern Anatolia and Armenia.

Saint Nina reached the borders of the ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia in about 323 A.D. There, she placed a Christian Cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki and started preaching the Christian faith in Urbnis and finally reaching Mtskheta (the capital of Iberia). The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshipped the syncretic gods of Armazi and Zaden. However, after Nina’s preaching and miracles, Queen Nana, followed by King Mirian and the whole nation were converted to Christianity.

In 326 A.D. King Mirian made Christianity as the official state religion of his kingdom.

The Georgian Orthodox Church marks St. Nina's feastday twice a year: on June 1 (May 19) - the Entrance of St. Nina to Georgia and on January 27 (June 14) – the day of her passing away.