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St. Ioane of Zedazeni

St. Ioane of Zedazeni by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artwork Narrative:

St. Ioane received his spiritual training as a monk in Antioch.  He then moved deeper and deeper into the Syrian wilderness.  As his fame spread, disciples gathered around him and he founded a monastery in Mesopotamia.

Once when he was praying in solitude, Mary, the Theotokos, appeared to him and asked him to take 12 of his monks to the kingdom of Georgia, where they were needed to strengthen the struggling Christian Church.  When they arrived in Georgia, St. Ioane and most of his disciples settled on Zedazeni Mountain, where there had once been a pagan temple.  They lived there in abject poverty, in caves and primitive huts.  In time many Christian men flocked to the mountain to join the monks and the number of hermitages grew.

There was no source of water on the mountain, however, and this was a source of suffering for the monks.  St. Ioane prayed for a solution and a spring of fresh water appeared at the peak of the mountain.  A fierce large bear began coming to the spring to drink, frightening the monks.  The saint tamed the bear, who from then on guarded the hermitages and protected the monks.  In the centuries that followed, wild bears never troubled the monks again.

After many years St. Ioane died and was buried in his cave.

His feast day and his 12 disciples is May 7.

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Our Holy Father Ioane of Zedazeni and his twelve disciples, Abibos of Nekresi, Anton of Martqopi, Davit of Gareji, Zenon of Iqalto, Tadeos of Stepantsminda, Ise of Tsilkani, Ioseb of Alaverdi, Isidore of Samtavisi, Mikael of Ulumbo, Piros of Breti, Stepane of Khirsa, and Shio of Mgvime, were Syrian ascetics and the founding fathers of Georgian monastic life.

St. Ioane received his spiritual education in Antioch. Early in his youth he was tonsured a monk and withdrew to the wilderness. The Lord, recognizing his humility, diligence in fasting, and devout watchfulness, blessed His faithful servant with the gift of healing the sick and casting out demons. St. Ioane was celebrated for his holy deeds and miracles. Curious crowds would swarm around him, and after some time he found it necessary to withdraw into even deeper seclusion. Taking with him several of his disciples, he chose a remote area, fashioned for himself a cell, and began to labor as a hermit.