(Italiano) GEORGIA – La Croce di Santa Nino
Saint Nino (Cristiana) is a recurring character during a trip to Georgia. It is she who preached and introduced Christianity to Georgia.
She arrived at the borders of the ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia around 320 AD. Here she erected a Christian cross in the small village of Akhalkalaki and began to preach her faith in the surrounding regions.
After several miraculous healings she moved to Mtskheta where she first converted the queen Nana and then the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who declared Christianity an official religion (327). An important episode in her life was when thanks to a night of her prayers, the wooden column that was supposed to support the church of Mtskheta miraculously moved alone (the workers had not succeeded in the work) to the place where according to tradition Sidonia was buried with the tunic of Christ.
She then continued her missionary activities among the Georgians and retired to the Bodbe mountain pass until her death (340). A monastery dedicated to her was then built on this site.
The most important symbol of the Georgian Orthodox Church is the Cross of vine shoots, better known as the Cross of Saint Nino because it was she who introduced it.
It is recognizable by the slight downward curvature of the horizontal arms. Some sources say that Saint Nino received the cross from the Virgin Mary and encircled it with her own hair, others instead narrate that it was she who created it.
The cross always accompanied her in the mission of evangelization of the saint in these territories.
The cross was kept at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta until 541, was then moved to Armenia, where it remained until 1124. It then returned to Ananuri in Georgia and was subsequently brought to Moscow by the Georgian bishop Timothy. In 1802, when Georgia was incorporated into the Russian Empire, the relic was returned to the veneration of the Georgian people. Since then it is kept in the Sioni cathedral of Tbilisi.