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St. Nina, Equal-to-the-Apostles, and Enlightener of Georgia

(Commemorated on January 14) 

Nina was a relative of St. George the Great-martyr and Juvenal the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  Her parents belonged to the nobility in Cappadocia, and--since her parents were tonsured in the monastic state--Nina was educated under the tutelage of Patriarch Juvenal.  Hearing about the people of Georgia, the virgin Nina, from an early age, desired to go to Georgia and to baptize the people.  However, the blessed Nina was overwhelmed at the thought of such a great responsibility.  One night, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared to her in a dream.  Nina asked, “How can I, a fragile woman, perform such a momentous task, and how can I believe that this vision is real?” In response, the Theotokos presented her with a cross of grapevines and proclaimed, “Receive this cross as a shield against visible and invisible enemies!”

When she awoke the next morning, Nina was holding the cross in her hands. She dampened it with tears of rejoicing and tied it securely with strands of her own hair. (According to another source, the Theotokos bound the grapevine cross with strands of her own hair.)

Afterward, the young Nina indeed traveled to Georgia, where, in a short period of time, she gained the love of the Georgian people.  Nino succeeded in baptizing the Georgian King Mirian, his wife Nana, and their son Bakar who, later on, zealously assisted Nina's missionary work. During her lifetime, Nina traveled throughout Georgia, converting the entire nation to the Christian Faith.  She did her work at the time of the terrible persecution of Christians at the hands of Emperor Diocletian. Having rested from her many labors, Nina reposed in the Lord in the year 335 A.D.  Her body is entombed in the Church of the Holy Great-martyr George in Bodbe Convent.  She worked many miracles during her life and after her death.

A hymn of praise for St. Nina 

A virgin most beautiful, noble Nina,

By providence became the Apostle to the Georgians,

In defiance of the persecution by Diocletian, the Emperor.

With the Cross she baptized King Mirian,

His wife Nana and his son Bakar,

And through them, all the people and the elite of the leaders.

With the Cross of the Son of God she baptized them all.

Saint Nina, Apostle to the Georgians.

From her youth Nina prayed to God

That Djul (the Rose)--Georgia--be baptized by her;

And that for which she prayed, the good God granted.

From Nina's hand the Cross shone

Upon gentle Georgia, where it shines even now,

Where Nina's hand blesses even now.

There is Nina's grave, over which a church glistens,

Glorifying Saint Nina and the Lord Christ.


Prayer to the Holy, Equal to the Apostles, Nina 
O all-praised and wonderful equal of the Apostles Nina, truly great adornment of the Orthodox Church and great boast of the people of Iberia, thou who didst enlighten the whole land of Georgia with the divine teachings, and with apostolic deeds didst defeat the enemy of our salvation, by labor and prayer thou didst plant there a vineyard of Christ and increase its fruit many-fold Celebrating thy holy memory, we approach thy holy image and with reverence kiss the miracle-working cross, the highly praised gift to thee from the Mother of God, which thou hast encircled with thy clear hair, and tenderly ask thee, as our constant intercessor: protect us from all evil and sorrows, and from the opponent of piety guard thy flock which hath been saved by thee, and beseech our all-good God and Savior, before Whom thou art now standing, that He may grant us peace and many years, and that the Lord may bring us into His kingdom, where all the saints praise His holy name, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

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