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Monday, 14 May 2007

Wedding, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta, Georgia, February 2007

Now there's a mouthful of a name!

Svetitskhoveli is one of the oldest churches in Georgia, at least foundation-wise. It's magnificently set in Mtskheta, which was the old capital, functioning as such from c. 500 BC to 500 AD, the date of Tbilisi's accession to capital city status. So St. Nino brought Christianity here in c. 337. Here, also, legend has it that a Georgian Jew visiting Jerusalem for the Passover acquired the robe of Christ at His crucifixion. Returning to Mtskheta, he was greeted by his sister who, clutching the robe, died instantly, it then being irremoveable from her hands. She and it were buried together in what became the foundation of the cathedral. "Svetitskhoveli" translates as "Life-giving pillar": during construction, one of the church's pillars hung obstinately in the air, refusing all attempts to settle it, until Nino's prayers prevailed.

The cathedral has also long been a favourite wedding venue for Georgian couples. Thus the photograph. Until a few years ago it was Georgia's largest church; but that position has, as with Tbilisi, been taken by a young upstart, Tsminda Sameba (Holy Trinity). However, this church will always have the weight of a venerable history for its glory.

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