ęGraham R. Jones. With the exceptions of the two photographs whose captions are marked with an asterisk, the copyright of the images belongs to their creator, Dr Graham Jones. Please credit me if you re-use them.
Revered as the evangelist of Iberia (eastern Georgia), 'equal to the Apostles', St Nino was said by an (?eighth century) text to have been the daughter of a Patriarch of Jerusalem. However, an oral tradition recorded by the historian Rufinus c. 395 and attributed by him to a prince of Iberia named Bakur, described her simply as a captive who cured a daughter of Mirian, king of Iberia, who then asked the Emperor Constantine for missionaries. Her feast day is January 14 in the East, December 15 in the West. Her shrine is in the church of the nunnery at Bodbe in Kakheti, shown in photographs of a patriachal visit in April 2004 posted on the Website of the Orthodox Church of America, from which two images have been copied with grateful acknowledgement.
* The church of St George, Bodbe, which houses St Nino's shrine. Right: South-side images on the iconostasis at St George's church, Bodbe. The saint herself is shown with her church, on the north side of the entrance to her shrine.
Worshippers waiting to enter St Nino's shrine at Bodbe. Right: The icon of St Nino over her shrine in the church at Bodbe.
Supplicants' prayers pasted on to a much abraded painting of the Way of the Cross in St George's church at Bodbe. Is it possible that devotees have mistaken the centurion on his horse as an image of St George, the patron saint?
School party visiting the Holy Well of St Nino at Bodbe. The well-house is on the south side of the chapel, flanked by the arcaded porch. Right: St Nino's Well in the valley below the town of Bodbe, where the saint's remains are said to lie.
Nunnery of Ninotsminda ('St Nino') on the road which links Kakheti with Tbilisi: ruined apse, recently-built chapel, and tower of the main church of the community in the distance.
Nunnery of Ninotsminda ('St Nino'): remains of paintings in the roof of the ruined apse.
George, the country's name saint
Distant view of St George's cathedral, Alaverdi. The saint is carved, with his dragon, over the west entrance. The village is close to a crossing of the Alazani river, north of the regional capital, Telavi.
In the distance, the church of a village named after its saint: Giorgitsminda (St George).
An icon of St George showing the saint spearing a fallen warrior, not a dragon as is usual in the West.
Church of St George, Sakobiano, Pankisi Valley.
Altar of the church of St George, Sakobiano, Pankisi Valley. Images of George on a white horse are popular in George and echo his veneration as Tetri Giorgi, 'White George' (claimed by some ethnographers to be a successor of a moon deity).
The hall church of St Theodore, Balgodjiani, on the north (or should it be east?) side of the Alazani valley, photographed early in the twentieth century. Like George, Theodore is represented as a warrior saint.
Other saints and their churches
In the background on the hill, St Michael's Chapel, Tibaani.
Dedication stone at Tibaani basilica.
Tibaani basilica,, south-west crossing.
The Lomisi ('Lion') Church, Sakobiano, Pankisi Valley.
Altar of the Lomisi ('Lion') church, Sakobiano, Pankisi Valley.
Gurjaani: village church (surrounded by modern lamp standards) and, in the background, a chapel recently built by the owner of the adjacent house.
Ladodekhi: The priest censes the sanctuary in preparation for the marriage of the couple in the centre of the nave. On the left, an icon of Mary, mother of Jesus, to which present-day worshippers attribute miraculous powers.
The church of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Kvareli Dubi.
The ruined church of St Nicholas, Iqalto. The niche on the far wall has been provided with devotional items, including a picture of St George crayoned on paper, perhaps by a child.
A group of young people singing devotional songs under the tree next to the church of St John the Baptist, Iqalto, recently restored after serving as a cinema during the Soviet era.