26 January 2010

Holy Noble-Born David III the Restorer, Emperor of Iveria and Abkhazia

from the Synaxarion:

Holy Noble-Born David III the Restorer, Emperor of Iveria and Abkhazia (1089-1125; by other accounts 1084-1125; in the contemporary writings of David IV the Builder), -- influenced the working of government, culture and church in Georgia. He was educated by his priest -- the monk Arsenii of Ikaltoi (+ 1127, Comm. 6 February), reknown for his theological and encyclopaeic learning.

The Georgian nation gave Holy Tsar David the title "Restorer" (Vozobnovitel') for his great efforts to renew Georgia for his great effort in the restoration of Georgia and the re-invigoration of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Georgia, mercilessly devastated by the Turks and suffering from internal strife, was united under the sceptre of David the Restorer into a strong centralised state. The Georgian Church, whose flourishing the tsar considered to be a guarantee for the security and unity of the state, became an object of his particular care. Saint David was distinguished for his deep piety -- he sacredly honoured the church canons and by his power kept and affirmed them. Through the initiative of Saint the Restorer, a Church Council was convened in the year 1103 at Ruisa, the decrees of which contributed to the strengthening of the canonical life of the Church and affirming church piety.

An highly educated man, Saint David patronised a diversity of sciences. He founded the scholarly academies at Gelatia and Ikaltoi. During the reign of Saint David the Restorer, tens of churches and monasteries were built in Georgia, and he built new cities and renewed old ones. The pious tsar displayed great concern for the well-being and prosperity of Georgian monasteries in Palestine and on Sinai, in Antioch and on Holy Mount Athos. When Saint David decided to erect a church in the name of the Great-Martyr George, to whose patronage he constantly resorted in his wars for liberation, Saint George appeared to him then in a vision and showed him the place for raising up the temple.

Thinking of peace-making as fulfillment of the Lord's commandment (Mt. 5: 9), Tsar David reconciled the Kipchak khan Atrak with the Ossetian people and brought peace into the Dar'yal' Valley.

In 1123, shortly before his death, the pious tsar liberated Armenia from Turkish dominion. He ordered churches to again be reconsecrated, having been transformed by the Turks into mosques. According to tradition, when the Tsar entered into one of the churches to the grave of his grandmother -- the spouse of the Armenian emperor Gagik I, and said: "Rejoice, Tsaritsa! God hath delivered thy church from the Hagarites", suddenly a voice was heard: "Thanks be to God!" The concern of Tsar David about reunion with the Armenian Church resulted in the convocation of a Church Council in the city of Ano, at which a part of the Armenian monophysite bishops swayed towards an acceptance of Orthodoxy (but in its entirety the Sobor did not arrive at the desired results). The patriotic efforts of Saint David did not hinder him from accomplishing spiritual efforts. From his early years the saint had the foundation of wisdom -- the fear of God (Proverbs 1: 7), inspiring him to good deeds and aims. A beloved preoccupation of saint David was the reading of Holy Scripture. The "Penitential Kanon" composed by him testifies to his profound spirituality, and consists of nine sorrowful and moving odes.

Sensing the approach of death, holy Tsar David composed a spiritual testimony in which, having transferred the ruling of the country to his son Dimitrii, he wrote: "Now doth the Divine Providence of the Righteous God call me away, and it summon to the destined kingdom... All that I have accomplished is by the power of the Venerable LifeCreating Wood of the Cross and to it I do account its Sign bringing me bliss". Having been communed the Holy Mysteries, "with praise on his lips he offered up his soul to the Lord in his 53rd year of life, on Saturday 24 January 1125". The Tsar was buried at Gelatia Monastery, under the entrance to the church at the gate. Some while later his relics, having been glorified by signs of Divine mercy, were transferred beneath the altar-table of the cathedral church. At the end of the 13th Century holy Tsar David III the Restorer was beatified, and a service then was composed to him. His commemoration is celebrated on 26 January.

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