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Saint Nina

Saint Nina
  • Century: 3rd & 4th Century
  • Patronage: Georgia
  • Feast Day: January 15th

St. Nina was born in Cappadocia, what is now modern day Turkey.  She was the only daughter of a Roman General.  When Nina was twelve, her family traveled to Jerusalem, where her father became a monk, her mother became a Church worker, and Nina became the foster child of a pious elderly woman.  Under her foster mother, Nina quickly learned the rules of faith and piety.  

At the age of fourteen, Nina questioned her mentor about the location of Christ’s robe.  She was convinced that such an important relic could not have been lost.  Her foster mother told her that it was in Iberia, now modern day Georgia, and a land not yet completely developed.  When he Apostles had drawn lots to determine who was to preach where, the Mother of God had received the lot of Iberia, but she had been held back from going and was assured that someone would later preach there.  In a dream the Mother of God came to Nina and urged her to preach the Gospel in Georgia.  The Mother of God assured Nina that she would protect her and as a pledge, left a cross with her, a cross made of grape vines.  The Patriarch, her uncle, was delighted with the news of her vision.  He eagerly gave Nina his blessing to go.  

When the time arrived for her departure, Nina was led into the Church and was prayed over by the Patriarch these words, “Lord God, Our Savior! As I let this young girl depart to preach Thy Divinity, I commit her into Thy hands. Condescend, O Christ God, to be her Companion and Teacher everywhere that she proclaims Thy Good Tidings, and give her words with such force and wisdom that no one will be able to oppose or refute them. And Thou, most Holy Virgin Mother of God, Helper and Intercessor for all Christians, clothe with Thy strength against all enemies, visible and invisible, this girl whom Thou Thyself hast chosen to preach the Gospel of Thy Son and our God among the pagan nations. Be always for her a shield and an invincible protection, and do not deprive her of Thy favor until she has fulfilled Thy holy will”.

Nina joined the party of Princess Ripsimia, because they were traveling to Georgia to escape the persecution of Diocletian.  All but Nina were martyred in Armenia after Ripsimia declined to marry the King.  Living as a pilgrim, Nina became weary, and wondered briefly where she was going, and what she was doing.  She had continued visions to encourage her on her way.  She witnessed the worship of the local gods, and prayed that they might be destroyed.  She witnessed a downpour that washed the idols into the river and out of sight.  

She settled in the capital where she lived in a hut near the royal garden.  She gained a reputation for holiness because of her daily piety and her miraculous healings.  She cured Queen Nana of a disease no doctor had been able to relieve.  Even the King was converted.  

After preaching to and converting many Jews and pagans, Nina learned the story of Christ’s robe.  A local Jew, Elioz, had obtained the robe from the soldier to whose lot it had fallen and had carried it home to Georgia.  His sister, Sidonia, had clasped the robe to her breast and had died.  No one could take the robe from her, and it had been buried with her.  A cedar, now part of the royal garden, was said to have grown from her grave.  Nina had doubts about the identification of the particular tree, but she knew from her visions that the ground of the royal gardens was holy.  Without knowing that was the location of Christ’s robe, it is where she settled in a hut – in the royal gardens, only to find out later that she was living on the spot where Christ’s robe was buried.  

Nina died in the early fourth century, after she had seen Christianity spread throughout Georgia, and had through her preaching, converted a neighboring Queen and her kingdom.  Nina was buried near the place where she had died, in Bodbi.  The Church built by her grave was dedicated to St. George.  

Practical Take Away

St. Nina was a pious child who was fostered by another mother, other than her own.  She dedicated her life to learning about Christ.  She was intrigued as to the whereabouts of Christ’s robe, knowing it was too holy to have been lost.  The Mother of God appeared to her and told her it was taken to Georgia, and was asked to go there and convert that nation.  She did as she was told, and converted that region.  Once there, she learned that a soldier had brought it back to Georgia after the crucifixion, and had given it to his sister to safe guard.  While clutching it to her breast – she died, and no one was able to take it from her.  The robe of Christ was buried with her.  This very spot was the place that St. Nina had settle as a pilgrim in a hut, without knowing the importance of where she settled.  It is said that a cedar grew from the grave of the girl that was buried with Christ’s robe.