Commemorated on June 12
Tornike Eristavi (a Georgian title, meaning literally “head of the
army.” An eristavi was the ruler or governor of his province and a
pillar of the Georgian monarchy. During certain periods of Georgian
history the title was hereditary. The title is equivalent to a European
duke.) (later John of Mt. Athos) was a Georgian army commander famed for
his victories in war and a favorite of King David Kuropalates.
Eventually he abandoned his worldly glory and set off in search of his
spiritual father, St. John, on Mt. Olympus. There he learned that St.
John had moved to Mt. Athos, so he journeyed there and settled with him
in a monastery headed by St. Athanasius the Athonite. He was tonsured a
monk and given the new name John.
Soon many Georgians became
thirsty for the ascetic life and arrived to labor on the Holy Mountain.
To serve the young community, St. John built a church in honor of St.
John the Theologian and constructed cells nearby. In such a way, the
first Georgian community on Mt. Athos was established.
time, Bardas Sclerus, commander of the army of Asia Minor, led a revolt
against Basil and Constantine, the young Byzantine emperors. The dowager
empress Theophania, hoping to receive assistance from Georgia,
requested that John-Tornike travel to his homeland, inform the king
about the difficult situation in Byzantium, and rally the Georgian
armies for support. At first John-Tornike refused, doubting his
preparedness to return to life in the world. But after the other
brothers pleaded with him and he received St. Athanasius’ blessing, he
returned to Georgia and delivered Theophania’s letter to King David
Kuropalates. The king was overjoyed at the sight of his favorite
military leader, and he consented to the empress’ request, provided
John-Tornike would command the army. The king was resolute and
John-Tornike was compelled to honor his will. With God’s help and under
the wise leadership of John-Tornike, twelve thousand Georgian soldiers
defeated the army of the godless Bardas Sclerus, banishing the
conspirator from Byzantium (ca. 979).
After this great victory
John-Tornike returned immediately to Mt. Athos. The brothers met him
with great joy and gave thanks to God for returning him safely to the
St. John-Tornike was a perfect example of humility. He
renounced his own will completely and would do nothing without a
blessing from his spiritual father. “I entrust myself and my will to
you. Save me according to your will!” he would tell St. John.
brothers of the monastery often asked John-Tornike to recount his
military glories, and he was obliged to recall his past. Once St. John
requested that he share his memories with a certain Elder Gabriel, a man
who spoke not a single vain word. John-Tornike agreed, and after he had
narrated his glorious past to the elder, he ceased speaking entirely.
He spent the rest of his life in silence, hoping in God, and reposed
SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and even 2008!):
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