SAINT NINA & GEORGIA OF MY HEART
Saint Joseph Bishop of Alaverdi, Georgia
Saint Joseph chose the monastic vocation at a young age. Having arrived in Georgia with his teacher Saint John Zedazni , Saint Joseph settled in Kakheti in the relatively undeveloped and wild Alaverdi region. Here he began his ascetic exploits.
A Kakheti noblemen during an hunt found himself on the Alaverdi plain and was so astonished, seeing Saint Joseph standing at prayer, that he remained with him. Reports about this nobleman becoming a monk and about the holy life of the Monk Joseph spread throughout Kakheti. People seeking holiness and the ascetic life began to throng to Alaverdi to Saint Joseph. A monastery thus arose, and a church in honour of the Great Martyr Saint George was built.
Chosen to lead the monastery, Saint Joseph with fatherly love concerned himself about the brethren of the monastery, and about the spiritual enlightenment of Kakheti. Pagan superstitions were still not eradicated, and Saint Joseph, with cross in hand, often left the monastic solitude to preach the Word of God.
Beholding the saintly and immaculate life of the monk Joseph and his sincere desire to serve them, the Kakheti people willingly and joyfully accepted the Gospel teaching, and abandoned their pagan customs.
Saint Joseph composed a catechism (lost in the 16th Century) by which he taught the flock entrusted to him. Nearing the end of his life of dedicated service, Saint Joseph secluded himself in a tight cell for complete silence. In the year 570 occurred his peaceful and blessed end. Sainted Joseph was buried in the church of the holy Great Martyr Saint George in Alaverdi.
In the 9th Century in place of the former church was erected the great Alaverdi cathedral within which, on the left side of the Altar at the north wall, rests the body of Saint Joseph.
Saint Joseph is a particularly popular saint in Kakheti, particularly around Alaverdi, and it is common to see his icon in people’s homes in Eastern Georgia. The Alaverdoba festival in Kakheti coincides with the autumn harvest of grapes and other crops, and the harvest festival for several days in late September culminates with the feast of Saint Joseph on this day.