Two improbable myths

Mtskheta Travel Blog

 › entry 16 of 30 › view all entries
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

In the Georgian State Museum we saw what was claimed to be the face of Christ. According to our guide and local legend, a Georgian painter went to Jerusalem in order to paint Jesus. He followed Jesus around and tried to paint him, but the paint would never stick to the canvas (kind of like vampires and mirrors, I guess). He asked Jesus about the problem, and Jesus took a cloth and pressed it to his face, leaving a perfect image of the face of Jesus (presumably inverted, but that may be over-thinking the story). That night, the painter was outside the city walls and worried someone would steal his magic cloth - so he hid it under a wood pile. Low and behold, in the morning the image had transferred from the cloth to the wood, which he then carried to Georgia and presumably sold for a lot of money.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
So for anyone who wants to know what Jesus looked like, gazing upon this image shows a perfect representation of his face. Coincidently, Jesus looked rather Georgian, but with disproportionately large eyes, a lot of facial hair and a nose the appears to start in the middle of his forehead. The museum curator was rather more prosaic, and described the wood as an early form of wax painting from the fourth century.

Our second improbable myth for the day was in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of Georgia. The foundation myth of the church involves a Georgian Jew from Mtskheta named Elias, who was supposedly in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. He bought a robe from a Roman solider and brought it back to Georgia.

Tomb of Sidonia
When he presented the robe to his sister Sidonia, she immediately died (overwhelmed by the emotion). Sidonia was later buried still clutching the robe, which could not be removed from her grave. Several hundred years later, St Nino came to Georgia and converted the King of Georgia to Christianity, who forcibly converted the rest of the country in 317 CE. When he decided to build a cathedral he chose the grave of Sidonia as the site, only to find an enormous cedar tree growing in the location. They naturally chopped the cedar tree down to make seven columns, and the seventh column made from the tree levitated and floated in the air by itself, leaking magical fluids that cured all diseases. Rather than keep this miracle active for all to see, St Nino conveniently performed a miracle by prayed for the magical column to come down to rest (no wonder there are so many saints if the threshold for miracle working is making a wooden beam not levitate magically).

 

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Tomb of Sidonia
Tomb of Sidonia
Mtskheta
photo by: HORSCHECK