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George the Hagiorite

(1009—1065)


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(1009–65),

monk. Born of a pious aristocratic family in Tao-Klardzheti (Georgia), he was educated at Constantinople in religious and secular subjects. Desiring to be a monk, he returned home for his consecration in 1034. In 1036 he visited the Holy Land and became the disciple of George the Recluse, a Georgian monk of Antioch, who gave him the mission of translating the principal Greek religious treatises into Georgian. For this purpose he went to Mount Athos, where among other monasteries was a Georgian one called Iviron. Here he was ordained priest in c.1045 and became its abbot.

He established the cults of the monastic founders, reorganized the scriptorium to produce translations, and became a principal propagator of orthodoxy with its integral elements of theology, liturgy, and canon law. After some years the administrative aspects of his office became wearisome and in 1056 he resigned his abbacy, retired to the monastery of the Black Mountain, near Antioch, and there continued his literary work. Some years later he was drawn into controversy about Georgian orthodoxy. They claimed to have been evangelized by the apostle Andrew and Antioch had conceded them autocephalous status. George himself was recognized as completely orthodox. In spite of the East–West schism of 1054 he developed the idea that the same Christian faith can inspire different liturgical practices, and he also recognized the pre-eminence of Rome. Above all he wished his fellow countrymen to be completely dissociated from Armenian Monophysites.

At the urgent appeal of both king and archbishop he returned to Georgia in 1060. He stipulated that he should not be consecrated a bishop, but for five years worked for the recognition of basic principles later promoted by the council of Ruis-Urbnisi. These included the acceptance by the rich for the support of the poor, respect for justice in the law-courts, the observance of canon law, the submission of the clergy to the bishops, and the rejection of all contacts with heretics. At this very time Georgia was suffering grievously from Turkish invasions. George, believing his end was near, left for the Holy Mountain (Athos) with 24 orphans to whom he had taught Greek and Georgian for them to enter the monastery of Iviron. He never reached his destination as he died at Constantinople. His body, however, was translated to the Holy Mountain (which gives him his name of Hagiorite), the millenary of whose foundation was celebrated in 1982 at Tbilisi. Feast: 30 June; translation, 24 May.

P. Peeters, ‘Histoires monastiques géorgiennes’, Anal. Boll., xxxvi–xxxvii (1917–19), 69–159; J. Lefort, Actes d'Iviron I: des origines au milieu du XIe siècle (1985); H.S.S.C., vi. 159–63.

Subjects: Christianity.


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