Commemorated on June 27
The Monk George of
Iveria and Athos, was born at Trialeti (a region of Southern Gruzia, the
European Georgia) in the year 1009 (or 1014 by some sources) into the family of
illustrious landowners named Maria and Yakov. And his father under a commission
of the Gruzian emperor George I (1014-1027) journeyed to the Persian shah in
the capacity of an envoy.
When the boy turned
age 7, his parents brought him to the Tadzri women's monastery, where his elder
sister Tekle (Thekla) was being educated. Saint George spent three years here,
and during this time he was twice miraculously saved from perishing by the
Providence of God (in the River Ktsia, and another time from the flames of a
fire that raged through the monastery).
In 1019 at the
request of his uncles (his father's brothers) – George the Scribe and Savva,
who pursued ascetic life at the Khakhul' men's monastery, – the lad George
received the blessing of the Khakhul' monastery head Makarios to be tutored
under the strict ascetic Ilarion Tualevi, who was reknown for his knowledge and
profound spiritual life.
In 1022 Saint George
was sent off to Constantinople, where over the course of twelve years he
diligently studied the sciences (i.e. various disciplines) and he received
quite an excellent education.
After his return to
Gruzia in 1034 he took monastic tonsure at the Khakhul' monastery under the
blessed elder Ilarion Tualevi. A certain while later the Monk George gave away
all his clothing to the poor whilst attiring himself in old tatters of
clothing, and set off to venerate the holy places in Palestine.
After a short stay at
various monasteries on Black Mountain near Antioch, the Monk George set off to
the Wondrous Mount, to the monastery of Saint Simeon Divnogorets ("of
Wondrous Mount", + 459). He found there a spiritual guide in the elder George
the Silent (+ 1068), who was also a Gruzinian, living in the crevice of a cliff.
He spent three years at the monastery of Saint Romanos (from 1036- to 1039). At
thirty years of age the Monk George accepted the monastic great schema from the
elder George the Silent. And then in parting from him, he set off to Athos, to
the Iveria monastery. Along the way the saint visited Jerusalem and prayed
prostrating himself at the Sepulchre of the Lord.
The Monk George
arrived at Athos in the year 1040. Here he continued with the transcription
work of the Divine-service books and the works of the holy fathers of the
Church, a task that had been started by the Monk Euphemios of Iveria (Comm. 13
And at present the
Gruzian-Georgian Orthodox Church recognises as canonical and permissible for
church useage only this redaction of the Holy Scripture, ascribed to the pen of
the Monk George of Iveria, who worthily completed the work of the Monk Euphemios.
In the Vita-Life of
the Monk George there is included an incomplete list of his translations from
the Greek: the Great Synaxarion, the Acts and the Epistles of the Holy
Apostles, the twelve Divine-service Meneions (i.e. for each month), the
Oktoikon ("Eight Tones"), the Triodions (the Lenten and the
Bright-Paschalion), the Trebnik (or Euchologion, "Book of Needs"),
the Psalter, the complete Chasoslov ("Book of Hours"), the
"Hexaemeron" ("Six Days") of Saint Basil the Great, the
Letters of Saint Ignatios the God-Bearer, the OEcumenical Letters of Saint
Cyril of Alexandria, a Book of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, a Book of Saint Theodore
the Studite, a Book of the Proceedings of the Sixth OEcumenical Council, and
"many another useful and holy book".
From the translations
of Saint Gregory of Iveria, from the Latin into the Greek there has come down
to us the reknown work of bishop Dorotheos: "Concerning the Seventy
Disciples of the Lord". Widely reknown also is an original work by the
Monk George of Iveria, the "Vitae of John and Euphemios", which
provides a detailed account about the founding and inner life of the Athos
Iveria monastery under its first elders and heads – the Monks John and
Euthymios (Comm. 12 July and 13 May).
After a year of
obedience, the Monk George in 1042 was ordained to the dignity of priest and
was appointed elder priest-monk at the cathedral church. He fulfilled likewise
the duties of regent (choir-master). His time not involved in Divine-services
he devoted to translation activity and poetic creativity. The Athos
hymn-writing of the Monk George of Iveria, in particular the reknown
"Evening Bell" was afterwards translated into many an European
After the death of
the Iveria monastery hegumen Stephanos Khartulyari, the Monk George was chosen
the new hegumen (the lots thrice pointed to him). Under the charge of the new
hegumen, the monastery cathedral church in honour of the Dormition of the MostHoly
Mother of God was rebuilt and made more substantial, and Gruzian dominion over
the Iveria monastery was acknowledged. To this end the Monk George made visit
to Constantinople, where he was admitted by the emperor Constantine IX Monomakhos
(1042-1055), and received from him a grammota deed of endowment.
Having returned to
the Iveria monastery, the monk left as its head George Oltiseli in place of
himself, and he set off to the Black Mountain near Antioch. Actually, he was
compelled to do so, since he had to defend before the Antioch Patriarch
Theodosios III (1057-1076) the brethren of his Iveria monastery, who were
suspected by the Greeks of being non-Orthodox. The Monk George succeeded not
only in accomplishing this task, but he also persuaded the Antioch primate of
the canonical legality of the autocephaly of the Gruzian-Georgian Orthodox
Church, – preserving its Apostolic Succession back to the holy Apostle Andrew
the First-Called. From Antioch, at the invite of the Gruzian emperor Bagrat IV
((1027-1072), the Monk George set off to Gruzia. In Gruzia he spent five years:
he taught the people by word and by deed, he assisted in the improvement of
church life and he introduced his books of translation. Due to their highly
erudite and literary quality, they were acknowledged by the Gruzian-Georgian
Church as exemplary.
Having in mind the
spiritual enlightening of the land, the Monk George selected 80 Gruzian youths
and set off with them to Athos, in order to give them the fundamentals of an
education. Along the way he visited Constantinople. Despite the agreement with his
students to put off a meeting with the emperor, because he had taken sick and
was aware of his own approaching end, the saint nonetheless hastened to present
his students before the emperor Constantine X Lukas (1059-1067), and he
received a grammota-decree for their education at the Athos school.
On the following day,
29 June 1065, Saint George peacefully expired to the Lord. The body of the monk
was reverently conveyed to Athos, and it was glorified along the way by evident
signs of God's mercy. It lay for a year in a coffin without burial in the
church of All Saints. When the coffin was opened, the body of the saint was
totally without decay: not one hair fell from his head or beard. The coffin of
Saint George was put near the reliquary of Saint Euphymios on 24 May 1066, on
the day commemorating the memory of the Monk Simeon Divnogorets. With the
consent of the Katholikos-Patriarch of All Gruzia John IV (1110-1142), annually
on this day was celebrated the memory of Saint George, but later it was moved
to the day of his blessed repose, and at present it is celebrated on 27 June.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.