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E00108: According to the Conversion of Georgia, written in Georgian in the 7th c., during the rule of King Archil in the early 5th c., Stepancminda, or the church of *Stephen (The First Martyr, S00030) was built on the banks of the Aragvi River.

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posted on 2014-10-29, 00:00 authored by naleksidze
The Conversion of Georgia

The chronicle of the Conversion of Georgia lists Iberia's rulers and patriarchs together with their major achievements. This brief episode narrates the deeds of king Archil in the early 5th century:

მერვე არჩილ, და მთავარ ეპისკოპოსი იყო იონა. და დაეცა ქუემოჲ ეკლესიაჲ. და იონა მიიცვალა და სუეტი იგი ცხოველი თანა წარმოიღო. და მისსა შემდგომად აზნაურთა აღაშენეს სტეფან-წმიდა არაგუსა ზედა. მათ ჟამთა ოთხნი მთავარნ ეპისკოპოსნი გარდაიცვალნეს.

'Eighth [ruler was] Archil and the Archbishop was Jonah. And the lower church was destroyed. Then Jonah died and [was buried] in the church of the outskirts [?]. [He] brought with him the Living Pillar. After this, the noblemen built Stepancminda [i.e. the church of Stephen] on the banks of Aragvi river. After that four archbishops have died during the rule of Archil.'

Text: Abuladze 1963, 92. Translation: N. Aleksidze.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Georgian

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Mcxeta Mcxeta მცხეთა Mcxeta Mtskheta

Major author/Major anonymous work

The Conversion of Georgia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - bishops


The Conversion of Georgia is considered one of the earliest pieces of Georgian historical writing, composed, most probably in the 7th century. This part of the Conversion of Georgia, known as the chronicle, is a brief list of Iberia's rulers and bishops with a short description of their major achievements or some of the most important events that coincided with their rule.


The reference to the church of Stephen is indeed a rare instance in early Georgian writing, in which references to saints are scarce. Nevertheless, Stephen was one of the most popular saints in late antique Iberia, and other churches of roughly the same period are also known in eastern Georgia.


Edition: Abuladze, I., ძველი ქართული აგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურული ძეგლები [Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature] (Tbilisi, 1963). Studies: Akinean, N., Die Einführung des Christentums in Armenien und Georgien (Vienna: Mechitarist Press, 1949). Aleksidze, Z., “Four Versions of the ‘Conversion of Georgia’.” in W. Seibt (ed.), Die Christianisierung des Kaukasus/The Christianisation of Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Albania). Referate des Internationalen Symposions (Wien, 9.-12. Dezember 1999) (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002), 9-16. Kiknadze, Z,. “Die folkloristischen Varianten der ‘Bekehrung Georgiens’”, Bedi Kartlisa 42 (1984), 222-231. Lerner, C.B., The Wellspring of Georgian Historiography: The Early Medieval Historical Chronicle the Conversion of Kartli and the Life of St. Nino (London: Bennet and Bloom, 2004).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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