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St. Nino and the Christianization of Pagan Georgia

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The ancient land of Georgia (Iberia), in the Caucasus, has a long history of settlement and invasion, including incursions by Hittites, Scythians, Persians, and Greeks, to name a few. Pre-Christian beliefs included a varied assortment of beliefs and practices borrowed from Zoroastrian, classical pagan, and other traditions. The accounts of the conversion of Georgia preserved in sources of the 5th, 8th, and 12th centuries reveal how pre-Christian practices were taken up and reinterpreted by the Christian narrators. While there is some evidence of earlier missionary efforts, according to Rufinus' account in the Ecclesiastical History (402-403) Georgia's official conversion to Christianity took place in the first half of the fourth century. This conversion is unique in a number of ways, not the least being that credit for it must be given to a woman, St. Nino, the apostle to the Georgians. Later Georgian sources (12th century) indicate a substantial measure of discomfort with the conversion of Georgia by a woman.


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