19 Feb

Sunday February 19.- St. Arsen of Iqalto, Georgia (1127).

The Monk Arsenios of Ikaltoi was descended from the Gruzian/Georgian princely line of the Vachnadze. He was born in Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia), – according to certain sources, in the village of Ikaltoi. Raised by pious parents, the Monk Arsenios distinguished himself from childhood by his love for church services and prayer. He received religious education at the Constantinople academy, where he studied not only the theological, but also the natural sciences.
At the completion of academy he accepted monasticism and bore obedience in one of the Gruzian monasteries of the Black Hill (near Antioch) under the guidance of Saint Ephrem Mtsira (+ 1101, Comm. 18 January). Here the Monk Arsenios zealously occupied himself with theological and translating activity, investigating in particular the causes of the breaking away of the non-Chalcedonian Churches from Orthodoxy.
To Saint Arsenios belongs the translation into the Gruzinian language of the “Great Nomocanon” of Saint Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople (857-867, 887-886), the “Golden Nectar” of Saint John Damascene, and also the compiled collection of translated works in the “Dogmatikon” with commentaries, directed against various heretical teachings. After the death of his teacher, the Monk Arsenios returned to Constantinople and continued his teaching activities.
Defending the purity of Orthodoxy, the Monk Arsenios while still during his lifetime gained fame for his instructive encyclopedia (theology, philosophy, philology, logic, physics, anatomy, poetics). Upon the invitation of the Gruzian emperor David III the Restorer (1089-1125), he returned to Gruzia in the year 1114 and for a certain while taught at the Gerat academy (Western Gruzia). Then the Monk Arsenios headed the founding, under his active participation, of the Ikaltoi academy (where he was born in Kakhetia, in the village of Ikaltoi, at the monastery of the Saviour Image-not-Wrought-by-Hand, during the years 1114-1120). At this academy, by tradition, he taught the great Gruzian poet Shota Rustaveli.
The Monk Arsenios was one of the initiators and an active participant of a Church Council in the Armenian city of Ano; under his influence part of the Armenian Monophysite bishops inclined towards an acceptance of Orthodoxy. Over the course of many years the Monk Arsenios was priest for the holy emperor David III the Restorer and by his good counsels contributed immensely to the enlightenment of the Gruzian Church. His astute intelligence and spiritual wisdom, the purity and righteousness of his life, are esteemed holy by the Gruzian Orthodox Church. The memory of the Monk Arsenios of Ikaltoi is celebrated on 6 February, the day of his blessed death.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos. (via Josep Ic Xc)

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