Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Mtskheta, Georgia
|Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia. Photo by Caroline Carson.|
|Mtskheta, Georgia: View from Jvari monastery, photo by Caroline Carson|
|Mtskheta. Photo by Caroline Carson|
The Georgian Orthodox Church developed several important styles of religious art which are still around today: polyphonic church singing, cloisonne icons, and enameled mosaics, calligraphy, and the "cross-dome" style of architecture. I saw some of these in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral though I did not hear any Georgian choirs or orthodox choral music (very similar to Russian Orthodox choral music). I did hear chanting though and there's a video link later in this post. The cathedral was cross-dome shaped.
Built into the cathedral, on the south side, is a tiny square cupola chapel built between the end of the 13th and the beginning the 14th centuries. It is a replica of the Chapel of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and was built at the site to mark Svetitskhoveli as the second most sacred place in the world.
|Part of the old structure - a tiny Medieval |
cupola chapel within a cathedral! Photo by Caroline Carson.
|Prayer book with candle wax stains|
|Side of cathedral|
Fascinating! I really wish I had known all of this history before I went. As it was, I hadn't even the foggiest idea! Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is ALSO the location of a relic of St. Andrew, the First-called's footstep. It looked like the top of a foot was under the glass case. Here, from the Georgian Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, is a bit more about St. Andrew in Georgia and takes us to the point at which St. Nino came to the country.
According to the will of God and the blessing of the Theotokos, St. Andrew the First-called set off for Georgia to preach the Christian Faith. He entered Georgia from the southwest, in the region of Atchara, and subsequently preached in every region of the nation. He established a hierarchy for the Georgian Church and then returned to Jerusalem for Pascha. When he visited Georgia for the second time, the Apostle Andrew was accompanied by the Apostles Matthias and Simon the Canaanite. Years passed and, under threat from Persian fire-worshippers and other pagan communities, the memory of Christ faded from the minds of the Georgian people. Then, at the beginning of the 4th century, according to God’s will and the blessing of the Most Holy Theotokos, the holy virgin Nino arrived in Kartli to preach the Christian Faith. She settled in the outskirts of Mtskheta, in the bramble bushes of the king’s garden. St. Nino inquired as to the whereabouts of our Lord’s Robe, but no one could remember where it had been preserved. In her quest for the Precious Robe, she became acquainted with Elioz’s descendants, the Jewish priest Abiatar and his daughter, Sidonia. St. Nino converted them to Christianity.
|Georgian painting of St. Andrew entering the country|
Back inside the cathedral, amazing Medieval paintings were on many walls. My absolute favorite one is below. (I love ancient wheels!) I'm not sure of all that this one represents, but the wheel in the center features the Twelve Apostles in the inner circle and the outer rim of the wheel is of the Zodiac! SO COOL! First is a closeup (w/ flash) and then an overall shot.
There are also other wheels - this Seraphim was to the right of the high altar area. This whole area was blocked off due to reconstruction and restoration efforts.
And this, below, was the best shot I could get of the entire altar painting without scaffolding:
|Painted in the 19th Century by a Russian artist|