St. Nino's tomb is
shown at the Bodbe Monastery, Kakheti. St. Nino's attribute, a Grapevine
cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity. She has become the most venerated saint of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Nino was born
in the small city - Colastri, in Cappadocia. She was the only
child of Zabulon, the famous Roman general. Her relatives were St. George and Houbnal
I, the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Nino, during her childhood was brought up by her relative and the nun
named Sarah Bethlehemlianka. Nino went to Rome with the
help of her uncle where she decided to preach the Christian gospel in
Iberia, known to her as the resting place of the Christ’s tunic.
Nino received a vision where the Virgin Mary
gave her a grapevine cross and said:
"Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, and you will find favor before the Lord; and I will be for you
a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of
this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My
beloved Son and Lord."
managed to convert some villages to Christianity in Northern Anatolia
and Armenia, while on her way to Iberia.
Nino reached the borders of ancient
Georgian Kingdom of Iberia in about 320 A.D. There, she placed a
Christian cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki and finally reaching Mtskheta. Iberian Kingdom has been influenced by the
Persian Empire which played an important role as the regional power in
the Caucasus. The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshiped the
syncretic gods of Armazi and Zaden. Soon after the arrival of Nino in
Mstkheta, the Queen of Iberia Nana requested
the audience with the Cappadician.
Queen Nana suffered from severe illness, had some knowledge of
Christianity. Nino having restored her
health, won to herself disciples from the Queen's attendants. The queen officially
converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino. King Mirian was tolerant of
Nino's new faith
however, he secluded himself from Nino and the growing Christian
community in his kingdom. The legend tells, theat while on the hunting trip, the
King was suddenly struck blind as the total darkness. In a desperate state, King Mirian uttered the prayer to the God
of St Nino.
As soon as he finished his prayer, the light appeared and the King
returned to his palace. As the results of this
miracle, the King of Iberia renounced idolatry under the teaching of St.
Nino and was baptized as the first Christian King of Iberia. In 327 A.D King Mirian made Christianity as the state religion of his
kingdom, making Iberia the second Christian state after Armenia.