Hieromartyr Aviv (Abibus), bishop of Nekressi in Georgia

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29 November/12 December

ОOne of the thirteen holy Syrian (Cappadocian) fathers, founders of Georgian monasticism, who came to Georgia during the 6th Century (their history is detailed in the commemorations on 7 May) at the request of the Georgian king Parsman VI (542-557) and Catholicos Evlavius (552-560), Aviv became a bishop for the diocese of Nekressi.

At that time, the Persians had captured Kakhetia (Eastern Georgia) and spread the practice of fire-worship throughout the land. Bishop Aviv, filled with apostolic zeal, and carrying his Cross in his hands, went about the towns and villages of his diocese and everywhere put down coarse superstition, extinguishing the fires in the Zoroastrian temples. The Didoites and other mountain peoples of Kakhetia living on the left bank of the Alazani river, disavowed fire-worship. In repentance, they entered the bosom of the Church of Christ. Holy Hierarch Aviv also brought many Persians to Christianity.

Troubled by the success of the hierarch’s preaching, the Persian Satrap in the town of Rekha commanded that St. Aviv be bound and brought to him. Catholicos Arseny the Great (+1390), author of St. Aviv’s hagiography, reported that while on his way to Rekha, St. Aviv received a letter and staff from his friend St. Symeon the Stylite of Mt. Sinai (commemorated 24 May), and bade farewell to his co-strugglers St. Zinon of Ikaltsikhe and St. Shio of Mgvime (commemorated 7 and 9 May).

Standing before the Persian Satrap, St. Aviv refused to adopt Zoroastrianism, and passionately denounced him as an idol worshipper. At the Satrap’s command, St. Aviv was subjected to scourging and other awful tortures, and then accepted martyrdom, stoned to death in the town of Rekha, near Gori. The body of St. Aviv was cast out to be devoured by wild animals, but neither wild beasts, nor birds, nor corruption touched his holy relics. The brethren of Samtavro Monastery solemnly buried him in their monastery. Later, in the reign of Kartli Stepanodze (639-663), and at the request of Catholicos Thabor, the Saint’s holy relics were translated from the Samtavro Monastery to the Samtavro Cathedral at Mtskheta, and placed under the altar table, where they remain hidden to this day.

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