The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Svetitskohveli Cathedral

One of the main temples of Georgia is the cathedral Svetitskhoveli in ancient Mtskheta. Svetitskhoveli translated from Georgian designates “A life-giving pillar”. Why is the cathedral called that? There are two versions.

The ancient legend says that in the distant IV century, where the temple towers now are, there was a small Saint church of Sidoniya. The church was destroyed and was tried to be rebuilt over and over again but nobody managed to do it until the 11th century when a cedar tree grew on Saint Sidoniya’s grave. This cedar tree became the first pillar of the new temple. Construction was at last successfully complete — it seemed like the heaven came to the rescue of the people. So, leaning on the base of belief and traditions, the great temple stands still and bears the name “Svetitskhoveli”.

Interior of Svetitskhoveli

The other legend says that one of soldiers witnessing Christ’s crucifixion brought home the tunic of jesus from Jerusalem. The sister of the soldier, Sidonia, died as soon as she touched this tunic. She was later buried together with this tunic wrapped around her. Due to this, a big cedar tree soon grew on this grave.

The tsar Mirian was the first Christian sovereign of Georgia. He decided to erect the temple over that place where Sidoniya was buried. The cedar tree was cut down, and became the seven columns of the temple. Construction took its course, six columns successfully established, but the seventh hung in mid-air. The situation was saved by Saint Nino who heavily prayed all night without a break. At last, without touch of a human hand, the pillar rose into its place. This column started to spread holy ointment which miraculously cured patients with heavy illnesses; thereof the name Svetitskhoveli – Cathedral of the living pillar.

Svetitskhoveli at night