July 3, 2020

Saint George the God-Bearer and Recluse of Antioch (+ 1068)

St. George the God-bearer (Feast Day - July 3)

Saint George the God-bearer left his native Georgia and went to labor in asceticism in the Black Mountains near Antioch during a time when the churches and monasteries there flourished. Orthodox Christians from many parts of the world came to settle there, and as a result, tensions often arose between monks of different nationalities. In order to remain detached from the conflicts, George found refuge in an impregnable cleft of a very high mountain. For this reason he is also called Saint George the Recluse.

Nevertheless, the monks of the Black Mountains were well aware of the pious life led by George the Recluse. Venerable George of the Holy Mountain journeyed to the Black Mountains in search of a spiritual guide and, after praying in each and every monastery, finally asked Saint George the Recluse, “a man innocent as a dove,” to fill this role. George the Recluse received the young ascetic and found a home for him in the monastery. His disciple remained with him for three years, leading the strictest ascetic life, until finally George the Recluse clothed him with the schema and “perfected him in the monastic life.” Then, after sending him on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he blessed George to resettle at the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos and to continue the holy work of Saint Ekvtime of Mount Athos.

George returned to the Holy Mountain but, instead of translating books as his spiritual father had advised him, he performed other obediences for seven years. When Saint George the Recluse heard this, he sent his disciple Theodore to Mount Athos to rebuke him and remind him that he was sent there to translate theological texts from the Greek to the Georgian language. This time George of the Holy Mountain humbly obeyed the will of his teacher.

Saint George the Recluse confined himself to strict solitude and, like his spiritual son, dedicated much of his time to literary pursuits. He was closely acquainted with the writers of Iveron and other Georgian monasteries, and he encouraged his spiritual son to continue his labor of translating Orthodox theological literature.

Saint George the Recluse copied Davit Mtbevari’s translations of the Life of Martha (the mother of Symeon of the Wonderful Mountain) and the Life of Saint Barlaam (of the Syro-Caucasus). When George heard that no copies of these Lives existed on Mount Athos, he transcribed the texts and sent them to the Athonites.

Saint George the God-bearer and Recluse reposed in 1068, after the death of his venerable disciple Saint George of the Holy Mountain in 1065.