Commemorated on November 30
The holy and right-believing king Vakhtang I ascended the throne of
Kartli at the age of fifteen. At that time Kartli was continually being
invaded by the Persians from the south and by the Ossetians from the
north. The situation was no better in western Georgia: the Byzantines
had captured all the lands from Egrisi to Tsikhegoji.
coronation, the young King Vakhtang summoned his court and addressed his
dedicated servants with great wisdom. He said that the sorrowful
circumstances in which the nation had found itself were a manifestation
of God’s anger at the sins of the king and the people. He called upon
everyone to struggle in unity and selflessness on behalf of the Faith
King Vakhtang led a victorious campaign against
the Ossetians, freed the captive princess (his older sister), and signed
several treaties with the Caucasian mountain tribes to secure their
cooperation in the struggle against foreign conquerors. Then he carried
out another campaign in western Georgia, freed that region from the
Byzantines, reinforced the authority of King Gubaz, and returned in
triumph to Kartli.
King Vakhtang was remarkable in faith, wisdom,
grace, virtue, and appearance (he towered above all others at a stately
seven feet ten inches). He spent many nights in prayer and distributed
alms to the poor, in this way dedicating his life to God. King Vakhtang
could fight tirelessly in battle. Vested in armor and fully armed, he
could carry a war-horse on his shoulders and climb from Mtskheta to the
Armazi Fortress in the mountains outside the city. On foot he could
outrun a deer. The holy king was judicious in politics, displayed great
composure, and preserved a sense of calm even when critical decisions
needed to be made.
On the brow of Vakhtang’s military helmet was
depicted a wolf, and on the back, a lion. Catching a glimpse of the
helmet with the wolf and lion, the Persians would cry out to one
another: “Dar’ az gurgsar!” (“Beware of the wolf ’s head!”) This was the
source of King Vakhtang’s appellation “Gorgasali.”
Vakhtang’s reign the Georgian Church was first recognized as
autocephalous. When the holy king banished the pagan fire-worshippers
from Georgia, he also sent a certain Bishop Michael—who was inclined to
the Monophysite heresy, which had been planted in Georgia by the
Persians—to Constantinople to be tried by the patriarch. The bishop had
disgracefully cursed the king and his army for rising up against the
Monophysites. In fact, he was so infuriated that when King Vakhtang
approached him to receive his blessing, he kicked him in the mouth and
broke several of his teeth.
The patriarch of Constantinople subsequently defrocked Bishop Michael and sent him to a monastery to repent.
importantly perhaps, the patriarch and the Byzantine emperor then sent
to the patriarch of Antioch several clergymen whom King Vakhtang had
chosen for consecration. In Antioch the patriarch consecrated twelve of
these clergymen as bishops and enthroned a certain Petre as the first
Catholicos of Georgia.
Vakhtang fulfilled the will of Holy King
Mirian by founding the Georgian Holy Cross Monastery in Jerusalem. In
addition, he replaced a wooden church that had been built in Mtskheta at
the time of St. Nino with a church made of stone. During his reign
several new dioceses were founded. King Vakhtang built a cathedral in
Nikozi (Inner Kartli) and established a new diocese there, to which he
translated the holy relics of the Protomartyr Razhden.
Vakhtang built fortresses at Tukhari, Artanuji, and Akhiza; founded
monasteries in Klarjeti at Artanuji, Mere, Shindobi, and Akhiza; and
established many other strongholds, churches, and monasteries as well.
He built a new royal residence in Ujarma and laid the foundations of the
new Georgian capital, Tbilisi. His political creed consisted of three
parts: an equal union of the Georgian Church with the Byzantine Church,
national independence, and the unity of the Church and nation.
the year 502 the sixty-year-old King Vakhtang was obliged to defend his
country for the last time. In a battle with the Persians he was fatally
wounded when a poisoned arrow pierced him under the arm. Before he died,
King Vakhtang summoned the clergy, his family and his court and urged
them to be strong in the Faith and to seek death for Christ’s sake in
order to gain eternal glory.
All of Georgia mourned the passing
of the king. His body was moved from the royal residence in Ujarma to
Mtskheta, to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which he had himself built. There
he was buried with great honor.
Some fifteen centuries later,
with the blessing of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, an addition was built
onto the Sioni Patriarchal Cathedral in Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali’s
name, and a cathedral in his honor was founded in the city of Rustavi.
SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2015(with 2014's link here also and further: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and even 2007!):
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