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E02278: The Georgian version of the discovery of the relics of the *Three Hebrew Youths of Babylon, Ananias, Azarias and Misael (Old Testament martyrs, S01198) recounts the story of the discovery of their relics in Babylon in a Jewish man's house.

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posted on 2017-01-26, 00:00 authored by naleksidze
The Invention of Ananias, Azarias and Misael


During the reign of the Persian king Vahram, there lived in a house close to the palace of Nebuchadnezzar an unfaithful Jewish man, in whose house inexplicable healings took place. Another Jewish person, who had been converted to Christianity by a royal dignitary called Malpha, was commissioned by the latter to go and investigate the miracles that were happening in the house of the Jewish man in Babylon. Upon his arrival, the visitor was cordially welcomed and stayed to witness the miracles:

და იხილა, რამეთუ მოვიდოდეს მრავლად კაცისა მის სალმობათაგან თუისთა და მან აღიღის სარწყული ერთი წყლისაჲ და დადგის იგი საშუვალ სახლსა სერით ვიდრე ცისკრადმდე. მაშინღა ვითარ ცისკარი არნ, აღიღის წყალი იგი, რომელ საშუვალ სახლსა მას დაუდგამნ, და გარდაასხის სნეულებასა მას, და იყოფოდა კურნებაჲ.

'And he saw that many afflicted people came to the man, and he would take a bucket of water and would place it in the middle of the house until dawn. In the morning he took the bucket of water placed in the middle of the house and poured it on the illnesses and cure immediately followed.'

After a few drinks, the unfaithful Jewish man recounted to him that the reason for the healings were the relics of the Three Hebrew Youths, that were, according to the Jewish oral and written traditions preserved here in this same house.

The Christian Jewish man went back to the dignitary who had sent him, and recounted to him all that he had heard. The ruler was excited by the story, and went to a hegumen of a local monastery, called Teranton, and recounted to him the wondrous discovery of the relics of the Three Hebrew Youths. The ruler and the hegumen decided to go and pay visit to the relics, and hopefully to remove them, and translate them to a more suitable place. However they wished to conceal their identities and to dress as beggars. The deacon of Teranton, called Tergila accompanied them.

Upon their arrival in Babylon, the hegumen and the deacon pretended to be afflicted by various illnesses. They brought wine and meal, and got the Jewish man drunk. Thinking that the visitors were pagan, the man confessed to them that he had sat here for twelve years, and has never touched a woman, and described all the ways the miracles were happening.

The visitors asked him whether he sat here every day, day and night. The man replied that he would normally come here on a Sabbath, light candles and incenses and go back to his abode. The visitors rejoiced upon the story and having returned to the ruler, recounted to him all that they had heard.

On the Sabbath, they went to the Jewish man's house with a multitude of armed men, and started to dig in the house in hopes to uncover the relics. The labour was futile and the relics only revealed themselves after a prayer:

და აღიღო თუით ტერანტონ წერაქუი იგი ჴელითა თუისითა და ვითარცა დასცა ადგილსა მას, მუნთქუეს\ვე განიყარნეს ალიზნი იგი ურთიერთას და განეღო ადგილი იგი და გამო\ბრწყინდა შინაჲ ნათელი საშინელებისაჲ წმიდათა ანანიაეთგან და გა\ნათლდა ყოველი იგი სახლი, ვიდრემდე ძალმან მან ნათლისამან, რომელი გამობრწყინდა წმიდათა მათგან, ნათელი იგი სანთელთა მათთაჲ დაშრიტა. და დაეცა ზარი დიდი ყოველთა, ვიდრემდე შეწყვდნა ყოველთა სასტიკებისა მისგან ნათლისაჲსა, რომელი გამობრწყინდა ნეტართა მათგან.

მერმეღა სადამე გონებასა მოდგეს და თაყუანი-სცეს, და მერმეღა აღანთეს სანთელი იგი, რომელ დაშრტეს, და შევიდეს ადგილსა მას და პოვნეს თავნი ნეტართანი მათ ცოცხალნი და მკლავნი და ბარკალ-სხუილ\ნი, და სხუაჲ იგი ყოველი მიწად გარდაქცეულ იყო, რამეთუ მრავალი ჟამი იყო მათი, ვინაჲთგან აღსრულებულ იყვნეს სოფლისა ამისგან. მერმე ყო\ველი იგი მიწითურთ აღკრიბეს და რაჲთურთით არაჲ დაუტევეს ადგილსა მას და დიდითა სწრაფითა და გულს-მოდგინებითა წარვიდეს და რაჲთურთით კაცთაგანი მათ არავინ შეემთხუია მას დღესა.

'Teranton himself took the pickaxe and when he hit the place, the clay immediately separated and the place opened, and the terrible light of the martyrs [ananiaetgan] shone, and the whole house was lit. And the power of the light that shone from the saints extinguished the candles. And everyone was stoke by terror until the light dwindled down.

When they came to their senses and worshipped [the relics], they lit the candles that were extinguished, and entered the place and discovered the living arms and thighs, and the rest had turned into earth, for many years had passed since the death of the saints. Then they collected everything together with the earth, and left nothing there. They swiftly left the place, and no man has met them on their way out.'

The next day, the Jewish man came only to discover the house empty and the relics stolen. The entire Jewish community of the area was furious and they complained to the King. The King summoned the ruler and asked him if it was indeed true that the Christians had stolen the relics. The ruler denied any knowledge or involvement in the events.

King Vahram ordered his servants to capture and beat the ruler, and thus was he detained and beaten for seven months. The ruler gave away all his richness and upon his release, his fame and glory grew even further.

და მერმე აღეშეჲნა ნეტართა მათ საწამებელი სიწმიდისაჲ ვანთა მათ შინა ანტონის ნეტარისათა და დასხნა იგინი მუნ დიდითა სნეულებითა ცოლისა მის მთავრისაჲ, და იყო მიახლებულ ვიდრე სიკუდიდმდე. და მაშინ მოვიდა ქმარი იგი მისი ვანთა მათ და აღიღო ნაკურთხევისაგანი ნეტართაჲ მათ და დაასხა სნეულსა მას, რომელი-იგი მიახნდა სიკუდიდ, და მუნთქუესვე განი\კურნა სალმობისა მისგან თუისისა.

ესე წინაჲთი სასწაული იქმნა. და ერთი სხუაჲ დედაკაცი, გუემული ეშმაკისაგან, მოიყვანეს წინაშე წმიდათა მათ და აღიღეს ნაკურთხევისა მის\გან ზეთისაჲ ნეტართაჲ მათ და შთაუსხეს ცხუირთა მისთა. მას ჟამსა ღაღა\დებად დგა დევი იგი ხუიობით და თქუა: ვაჲ არს ჩემდა წმიდათაგან ანა\ნიაეთ მიერ, რამეთუ იგინი სამნი არიან, და ჩუენ ოც და ათ, და აჰა ესერა განგუდევნიან ჩუენ. და მასვე ადგილსა მუნთქუესვე განიკურნა დედაკაცი იგი და სხუაჲ არღარა იხილა მან სული იგი უკეთური. და სიმრავლეჲ უძლურებათაგან მივიდოდეს და მიიწეოდეს წმიდასა მას საწამებელსა და მუნთქუესვე მოიპოებოდეს მადლსა კურნებისასა თითოეულად სალმობათა მათთაგან.

'Later a martyrium was built in the monasteries of blessed Anthony and the relics were transferred there. The wife of the great ruler became ill and was close to death. Then her husband arrived to the monastery and took the holy water from the blessed ones and poured it on the sick one, who had nearly died. And immediately she was healed.

This was an earlier miracle. Another woman, possessed by the devil, was brought in the presence of the holy ones. And they took the blessed oil from the holy ones and poured it into her nostrils. And the devil was crying bitterly: "Vow unto us, for they are three and we are thirty and they expel us". And immediately the woman was healed and never has she encountered an evil spirit since. And a multitude of afflicted and sick arrived to that place and immediately they were all healed.'

Another rich man, who lived not close to the area, had no children. He arrived there, prayed and received three sons. He called them Anania, Azaria and Misael, according to the promise that he had given to the saints.

Text: Garitte 1959. Translated by N. Aleksidze


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Old Testament martyrs : S01198

Saint Name in Source

ანანია, აზარია, მისაელ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • Georgian

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Georgia

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

Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Mcxeta მცხეთა Mcxeta Mtskheta

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Explicit naming a child, or oneself, after a saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Jews Foreigners (including Barbarians) Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - arm/hand/finger Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Raising of relics Theft/appropriation of relics Construction of cult building to contain relics


The invention of the relics of the Three Hebrew Youths has survived in two manuscripts: the 10th c. manuscript from St Catherine's Monastery on Sinai (Sin-geo 11) and an 11th c. manuscript (H-341) of the National Centre of Manuscripts of Georgia. The language of the text, however, as it has been demonstrated on numerous occasions, is archaic and can be dated to a period before the 8th century. G. Garitte, the original editor of the Invention, believed that the Georgian text is a translation of a non-extant Armenian prototype, which must have been based on the Syriac original. This is indeed possible, as the language is extremely awkward and betrays a non-Georgian original. In several cases Armenisms are particularly blatant. One most striking example is the name Teranton, which is a composite of Armenian Ter (Lord) + Anton (Anthony). The name Anton is confirmed in the parallel Armenian text. Garitte further identifies Syriacisms that must have entered the Georgian text through the Armenian intermediary. This version of the narrative has survived only in Georgian, however a parallel Armenian text exists that is similar but not identical to the Georgian version. The Armenian text, however, is must be later.


The Georgian text dates the discovery and transfer of the relics to the reign of the Persian King Vahram Gor. This is confirmed by a parallel source, The Life of Daniel the Stylite, according to which the relics were discovered under Emperor Leo I (457-474). This latter text, however, claims that the relics were transferred to Constantinople, and deposited in the tomb of the holy stylite.


Edition and Study: Garitte, G., "L'Invention géorgien des trois enfants de Babylon," Le Muséon 72 (1959), 69-100.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity