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April 1, 2013

Saints John of Shavta and Eulogius the Prophet and Fool for Christ

Sts. John of Shavta and Eulogius the Prophet (Feast Day - April 1)

The great Georgian hymnographer, philosopher, and orator Saint John of Shavta labored in the 12th and 13th centuries, during the reign of the holy queen Tamar. Few details of his life have been preserved, but we know that he received his education at Gelati Academy, where he studied theology, ancient and Arabic history, philosophy, and literature. He was later tonsured a monk and labored at Vardzia Monastery.

The Venerable Eulogius was born in Georgia and lived during the time of Queen Tamar (1184-1213). Because he loved God and the monastic life, he became a monk. God blessed his spiritual struggle and foolishness and graced him with the gift of foreknowledge.

Together with Saint John the Philosopher, he helped Queen Tamar in the Battle of Basiani (ca. 1203) against the sultan Rukn al-Din and his army of 400,000.

Queen Tamar’s husband, Davit Soslan, led the Georgian army with his wife to Odzrkhe Monastery to pray for help. Catholicos Tevdore of Kartli and many hierarchs and monastics accompanied her there. Among those praying for the victory of the Christians at the Monastery were Saint John the Philosopher and Saint Eulogius the Prophet and Fool. The Queen left for a nearby village where she prayed continually for victory, while her husband led the army to Basiani to fight the sultan and his army.

During the Divine Liturgy, soon after, a miracle took place at the Monastery. Eulogius fell to his knees and lifted his hands to heaven, crying out: "Glory to God! Almighty Christ!...Do not fear the Persians, but rather depart in peace, for the mercy of God has descended upon the house of Tamar!" Rejoicing, John went to Queen Tamar and said: "Your Highness! The Almighty has made known to us our victory in the war from the lips of a fool-for-Christ!" Remembering the time of this revelation, it was the same time that the Georgian army defeated the army of the sultan.

Since his gift became known to all, Eulogius quickly disappeared out of sight to escape the people’s attention. He reposed in peace.

Saint John the Philosopher composed his “Hymns to the Theotokos of Vardzia” in thanksgiving for Georgia’s victory in the Battle of Basiani. He is also recognized as the composer of “Abdul-Messiah,” (Abdul-Messiah: servant of Christ) a famous ode to the holy Queen Tamar. He also reposed in peace.