St Shio was one of the "Thirteen Holy Fathers of Syria", who are favorite monastic saints in the country of Georgia. Twelve monks, led by their elder, St. Ioane Zedazeny; were directed by the Theotokos to go to Georgia in the 6th century to strengthen the peoples faith. They first settled in Iqalto, in Kakhetia (eastern Georgia) and founded the first school of higher learning, the Iqalto Academy. Later the Holy Fathers dispersed to live as anchorites. St Shio lived in the Sarkineti mountains west of the ancient capital, Mtshkheta. The Holy Fathers often followed the example of the Stylites of Syria. For thirteen years, St Shio lived in the bottom of a well. He was renowned for the gift of healing. One of my friends told me that he translated the scriptures into Georgian; but that is not recorded in his life. His monastery is still functioning. It is about 30 miles northwest of Tbilisi.
His life can be read in the "Lives of the Georgian Saints"by Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze; which has been published in English by the St Herman's press. It can be ordered from sthermanpress. com for $30.
Another of the Holy Syrian Fathers, St Antony Matqopeli brought the Anchiskhati ( the Icon not Made by Hands ) to Georgia. This icon is not the original Mandylion; but a tile from the city wall of Edessa, where the Mandylion was kept. When the Mandylion was taken out of the city wall where is had been displayed, a copy of the image had imprinted on this tile. St Antony brought the tile to Georgia, where it is to this day. Mt wife and I were married in the church built for this icon. The tile icon itself is now housed in the Armory of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi. The church wants to have it returned; but the museum is concerned that the tile is too fragile for display. St Antony''s monastery is located in the mountains just outside Tbilisi. During the communist times, it was used a children's camp. When the atheists tried to open St Antony's tomb; light and sparks came out. They were so scared, that they left the grave undisturbed.
Monastic life is still active in Georgia, and there are great saints in our own day. "Mama Gabrieli ", Father Gabriel of Mtskheta is a modern saint revered through-out Georgia. He died in 1995, and is buried in the convent in Mtskheta. My wife met Fr Gabriel when he was still alive, and we have named our son after him. Fr Gabriel was a fool-for Christ and a fearless confessor during the communist times. In 1967, during the May Day parade, he snuck into the building where the banners of Marx and Lenin were hanging. He soaked the banners with kerosene and lit them on fire. He leaned out he window and called to the people: "Let's worship Jesus Christ, and not these dogs of Satan". The communists dragged him out and beat him to death; or so they thought. Almost every bone was broken. His skull was fractured in four places; but he survived and lived to see the end of the communits. Fr Gabriel had the gift of prophecy; but he also had a great gift for humor. A very great saint indeed. Dozens of miraculous healing have taken place due to his intercession. He has been a great help to my family.
Georgia has a rich history, there are holy places and the tombs of saints almost on every corner. Any Orthodox Chrisitian who loves to travel, should go. The climate is mild, The natural scenery is incredible. Most young people speak English - They teach it beginning in first grade. Older folks are fluent in Russian. Americans are very popular - our government and military are supporting Georgia's independece from the Russians. A great experience.