St Anthony of the Desert

Orthodox Christian Mission

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Fr Gabriel

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St Nina of Georgia

For all the Saints: Nina, Enlightener of Georgia

In the barren, silent landscape of Turkey called Cappadocia a girl was born around 280 who was destined to become a great evangelist.  As a Christian, she was well c0nnected.  Her parents, Zabulon and Susanna, were Christian leaders in Cappadocia.  St George the Great Martyr was a distant relative.

The nun entrusted with her education told Nina of Iberia, today called Georgia, a mountainous land along the southern border of Russia by the Black Sea, which had not heard the Gospel.  Nina became a missionary there, and her genuine piety and open faithfulness attracted the people to Christ.

Nina had a gift for healing and, when Queen Nana of Georgia was ill she sent for her.  Nina laid hands on her and prayed for her.  The Queen experienced healing and told King Mirian about her healing.  Later, when he was caught in a dark storm during a hunting trip he prayed “to the God whom Nina worships.”  He promised to serve this God if he were delivered from his terror, but unlike many who make rash promises in time of need, King Mirian sought out Nina after his deliverance and asked how he might go about converting his kingdom to “the God whom Nina worships.”  He sent emissaries, at her bidding, to the Patriarch at Constantinople who sent priests and catechists to the kingdom.  The conversion was not forced; the King and Queen were genuine leaders, once they became Christian.  In time the kingdom was connected to the Patriarch of Antioch.

Nina was a leader in this slow conversion to the Christian faith.  She traveled extensively, criss-crossing the land.  This happened when, ironically, Christians elsewhere underwent the final great persecution under Diocletian, Emperor of Rome.  The country, now named Georgia after St George the Great Martyr, is counted as the second oldest nation to embrace Christianity (in 330).  The Church of Georgia has been independent since that time.

Saint Nina is called “equal to the apostles” because she spread the gospel to a foreign land.  She died peacefully, surrounded by the King and court and clergy of her new home, in 335.  We commemorate her on January 14th.  Each year on her day prayer processions called “St Nina’s Way” are conducted across Georgia.

St Nina is a patron saint of the Women’s Orthodox Ministries and Education Network, whose journal is named for her.  Link: http://www.orthodoxwomensnetwork.org/sharing.cfm

Published 14.01.07