Merciful. Michael Stancio: Saint Antim Evrian and His Honor at Christmas in Georgia (26 June)

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June 26 (June 13 according to the old calendar) is dedicated to Georgian Orthodox Christians special glow. It is the day of the local feast of the holy and martyred leader Antim Iverinol, Metropolitan of Wallachia (1708-1716) and the initiator of the cultural revival (and) of Georgia (1709-1712) through the art of printing that was put at the service of the people, which led to the strengthening of the Orthodox faith and national consciousness.

And so, every year, on June 26, the small town of Ude in the diocese of Akhaltsikhe and Tau Klarjeti (considered the birthplace of Saint Antim) is filled with spiritual light, communion and joy for Christians participating in the holy liturgy, then the cultural festival and finally Agaba.

It is located in the center of the village of Ode, the monastery of monks (Picture 1) Protected by the Theotokos (after the first intercessor was the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God) and Saint Antimus Everelli (Picture 2), where his mother Grigoli Kurtsidze (Father Gregory, a figurative Archimandrite) for more than 12 years has seen a visible flourishment over time, both through the proliferation of the monastic community and through its social, charitable and cultural involvement. The monastery, as in antiquity, is a living place of Christian worship and culture, love of God, neighbor, homeland and knowledge is the main focus of its liturgical and missionary life.

Since my first arrival in Ode in 2008, I have noticed in time the restoration of the great church of the monastery and the construction of the foundation of the mountain hermitage (Buzmareti – picture 38 km from Ode and 2 km from the border with Turkey) is dedicated to Saint Gregory Khandzteli, where a total of 12 monks live, including wood carvings and beekeeping.

In addition to spiritual, cultural, and administrative concerns, Mother Gregoli (who also has a monk’s blood brother, who is also an archimandrite) coordinates the nearby monastery dedicated to Saint Nina (Christianity of Georgia, just like the apostles), where they work hard 7 living. The church of this monastery, dating from the 5th century, is carved in stone, on the left side wall from the outside, the Georgian cross, which later became the flag of Georgia. We must mention that this nunnery not only houses a beautiful library and a sewing workshop, but also one of the most modern facilities for wine preparation and bottling, which is the old tradition of Georgians in this area.

In the morning, on the day of the feast, while the evening prayer songs were sung in the seat, His Eminence Theodore Choadze, Metropolitan of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti, the Ador and Troparion, the holy priest and martyr Antim Everinol received. Priests Council 2 Mama Gregoli. The Divine Liturgy was then celebrated, the clergy and the faithful chime in their prayers with much reverence and peace, and the nuns and the group of children present at the podium gave us true demonstrations of choral prowess.

After the sermon of Archbishop Theodore, who briefly introduced the life, virtues, martyrdom, ecclesiastical and cultural achievements of the educated Iverian-Roman metropolitan world, the Romanian ambassador to Georgia, Mr. Radu Livio Horumbo, gave a speech on Roman antiquity. – Georgian relations and the importance of work. Saint Antim missionary who sent to his native Georgia the most worthy apprentice, Archdeacon Mikhail Stefanovich, decisively contributing to the assertion of Georgian Orthodoxy, culture and national consciousness through 10 books printed over three and a half years (1709-1712) . At the end of the words, and thanking us for the invitation to participate in this feast, we also presented Bishop Theodore and Father Gregory the album “Antim Ivireanul – A flower with a golden sheen of all the good arts” (bilingual edition).

After the Divine Liturgy, a cultural festival was organized in the adjacent House of Culture with an exhibition of plastic works by local artists and children, followed by a display of patriotic poems, traditional songs and dances from the Akhaltsikhe region, Georgians were not. Shame to show his love for the homeland, ancestors and Christian culture, he tried terribly over the centuries.

At the end of the events dedicated to Saint Antim Everinol, during the agape (excellently organized by the extended community of the monastery – lay faithful close to the monks and nuns) and attended by about 300 people, the indefatigable children’s choir group pleased us with a group of children. Few of the traditional songs and dances, strike us with their enthusiasm and the joy of Georgian folk creations of sophistication and refinement. It must be mentioned that during the meal, of an overwhelming variety, the toasts were not missing, and the leader of the table (Nomitamada, in this case is the capital) gave glory to God for all in the first toast, and then mentioned, in turn, the next toast, Father Patriarch Elijah II And all the Georgian chief priests and clergy, Patriarch Daniel of Romania and the Christian Roman people – brothers of faith and similar experiences in history, who are present with their relatives and friends, including those who are sleeping. Then he gave the floor to the ambassador, Father Gregory, priests, people of culture (teachers, writers, journalists) and local politicians, who are sincerely close not only to the Church and its people, but also to people who live their socio-political and economic life.

The bishop also said another toast as thanksgiving to the Mother of God, whose protection we always enjoy, even if we are often not aware of it. This beautiful and ancient tradition of toasting the table seems to me a reflection in the Christian love of the Great Liturgy and the remembrance of all loved ones (from the bishop to the shepherd, and from those near and far afar), and the table proves it. His holy character, creator of the soul’s fellowship in the Holy Spirit, not bodily indulgence.

Prayer and blessing at last sealed the gathering of all participants of the Feast of Saint Antim Everinol, as our impressions flowed in time like the sweetness of grapes and prolonged the joy of the holiday with echoes of the key moments we capture in some of the words and images presented above. May God grant us all to have the protection of Saint Antim of Iverian and uninterrupted meeting with him above time in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Archimandrite Michael Stanisio

Materials with several images can also be found on

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