Above: The Flag of the Republic of Georgia
SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, A.K.A. THE IBERIAN (DIED CIRCA 1002)
His feast transferred from July 12
SAINT EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS (DIED 1028)
Abbot and Translator
His feast transferred from May 13
SAINT GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, A.K.A. SAINT GEORGE MTASINDELI OR SAINT GEORGE THE HAGIORITE (1014-1066)
Abbot and Translator
His feast = June 27
I like monks. I also admire translators. With those simple and unapologetic statements I begin.
St. John the Georgian (died circa 1002) was also known as St. John the Iberian. I have listed him primarily as “the Georgian” because he was Georgian, not Spanish or Portuguese. The Encyclopedia Americana (1962), Volume 14, page 615, uses “Iberia” to refer to the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and to an
ancient region Asia. It now forms part of the Soviet republic of Georgia. The Iberians were defeated by Pompey and the region became part of the Roman Empire until after the time of Julian.
There was also a Georgian kingdom (extinct for over four centuries by the time St. John the Georgian was born) sometimes called Iberia. Yet, out of a desire for clarity, I refer to Georgia, not Iberia, beginning now.
St. John the Georgian was a nobleman and a military commander. He, with his wife’s permission, became a monk on Mt. Olympus in Bithynia. He brought his son St. Euthymius of Athos (died 1028) from Constantinople to Mt. Olympus. Their reputation for sanctity attracted so many followers that they had to leave just to have more solitude. So they relocated to Mt. Athos, where, with the help of General Thornikos, St. John’s brother, they founded Iviron Monastery for Georgians circa 980. St. John served as the first abbot, relinquishing the post circa 1002 in favor of his son. St. Euthymius served as abbot for fourteen years. He resigned so that he could devote himself full-time to translating the Bible and theological treatises by Church Fathers into Georgian. That was admirable work.
There were disturbances between Greek and Georgian monks on Mt. Athos. (Alas, even monks are not immune to the more unpleasant aspects of human nature.) Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII (reigned 1025-1028) summoned St. Euthymius to Constantinople to explain these disturbances. The former abbot died en route of injuries he sustained after falling from a mule.
A monk who revised the Bible translation of St. Euthymius was St. George of the Black Mountain (1014-1066). He had lived in Syria and traveled widely in the Holy Land before serving as Abbot of Iviron Monastery. Later St. George became a monk on Black Mountain in Armenia, hence his surname Mtasmindeli, literally, “of the Black Mountain.” He also followed in the footsteps of St. Euthymius by translating theological treatises into Georgian.
Such work requires solitude. Preparing these posts (written longhand prior to typing online) requires solitude. These posts, of course, are nothing compared to major theological treatises or the Bible. So imagine, if you will, O reader, how much solitude those projects required. I stand in awe of these men who sought to glorify God, with whom they desired solitary communion. The Church would be intellectually bereft without such individuals.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, PURITAN MISSIONARY AMONG THE ALGONQIN
THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AUGUSTUS BENNETT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF AOTEAROA
O God, by whose grace your servants
Saint John the Georgian,
Saint Euthymius of Athos, and
Saint George of the Black Mountain,
kindled with the flame of your love,
became bright and shining lights in your Church:
Grant that we also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,
and walk before you as children of light;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723