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Venerable Shio of Mgvime

Com­mem­o­rat­ed on May 9, May 7 and on Thurs­day of the Cheese-fare Week

An Anti­ochi­an by birth, St. Shio of Mgvime was among the Thir­teen Syr­i­an Fathers who preached the Chris­t­ian Faith in Geor­gia. His par­ents were pious nobles who pro­vid­ed their son with a sound edu­ca­tion.

When the twen­ty-year-old Shio heard about the great ascetic labors of St. John of Zedazeni and his dis­ci­ples who labored in the wilder­ness, he went in secret to vis­it them. St. John promised to receive Shio as a dis­ci­ple, pro­vid­ed his par­ents agreed to his deci­sion.

But when Shio returned home he said noth­ing to his par­ents about what had tran­spired.

Time passed and Shio’s par­ents both entered the monas­tic life.

Then Shio sold all his pos­ses­sions, dis­trib­uted the prof­its to the poor, wid­ows, orphans, and her­mits, freed all his family’s slaves, and returned to Fr. John.

St. John received Shio joy­ful­ly, ton­sured him a monk, and blessed him to remain in the wilder­ness. He labored there with St. John for twen­ty years. Then John was told in a divine rev­e­la­tion to choose twelve dis­ci­ples and trav­el to Geor­gia to increase the faith of its peo­ple. Shio was one of the dis­ci­ples cho­sen to fol­low him on this holy mis­sion.

The holy fathers arrived in Geor­gia and set­tled on Zedazeni Moun­tain. Then, with the bless­ings of Catholi­cos Evlavios and Fr. John, they dis­persed through­out the coun­try to preach the Word of God.

At his instructor’s com­mand, St. Shio set­tled in the Sarkineti caves near Mtskheta and began to lead a strict ascetic life. There was no water there and many wild ani­mals made their home in the caves, but the pri­va­tions and tribu­la­tions he encoun­tered did not shake St. Shio’s great faith. Like the Prophet Eli­jah, Shio received his food from the mouths of birds that car­ried it to him.

Once, after St. Shio had prayed at length, a radi­ant light appeared sud­den­ly in the place where he was, and the­Most Holy Theotokos and St. John the Bap­tist stood before him. After this mirac­u­lous vis­i­ta­tion St. Shio began to pray with even greater zeal, and he would spend hours alone in the wilder­ness.

Anoth­er time, St. Eva­gre (at that time ruler of Tsikhe­di­di and mil­i­tary advis­er to King Pars­man) went hunt­ing in the Sarkineti Moun­tains. There he encoun­tered St. Shio and, aston­ished by his piety, resolved to remain there with him. The news of the ruler’s con­ver­sion soon spread through all of Geor­gia, and many peo­ple flocked to wit­ness the ven­er­a­ble father’s mirac­u­lous deeds. Many remained there with them, fol­low­ing St. Evagre’s exam­ple.

Once St. Shio prayed to God to reveal to him the place where He desired a church to be built. He placed a lump of hot coal in his hand and sprin­kled incense on it, as though his hand were a censer. Then he fol­lowed the smoke as it swirled up from the hot coal. In the place where it rose straight up like a pil­lar, he took his staff and marked the ground where the church would be built.

When King Pars­man heard about his mil­i­tary adviser’s rad­i­cal change of life, he was deeply dis­turbed and wan­dered into the wilder­ness to find him. But when he wit­nessed the divine grace shin­ing on St. Shio’s face, he took off his crown and knelt humbly before him. Fr. Shio rev­er­ent­ly blessed the king, helped him to stand up, and replaced the crown on his head. Fol­low­ing the king’s exam­ple, all the roy­al court came to receive Shio’s bless­ing. A cer­tain noble­man with an injured eye knelt before St. Shio, touched his eye to the holy father’s foot, and received heal­ing at once.

At anoth­er time King Pars­man asked St. Shio if there was any­thing he need­ed, and he answered, “O Sov­er­eign King, God enlight­ens the hearts of kings. Do that which your heart tells you!” In response, the king donat­ed much wealth for the con­struc­tion of a church in the wilder­ness: the lands of four vil­lages, a holy chal­ice and diskos, a gold cross, and an ornate­ly dec­o­rat­ed Gospel that had belonged to the holy king Vakhtang Gor­gasali (†502).

When con­struc­tion of the church was com­plete, the king trav­eled there in the com­pa­ny of the catholi­cos, sev­er­al bish­ops and St. John of Zedazeni. The hier­ar­chs con­se­crat­ed the new­ly built church, and a monas­tic com­mu­ni­ty soon grew up on its grounds. Even­tu­al­ly, the num­ber of monks labor­ing at King Parsman’s monastery grew to near­ly two thou­sand. Many peo­ple vis­it­ed this place to receive St. Shio’s won­der-work­ing bless­ings, and they were healed from many dis­eases.

St. Shio per­formed many mir­a­cles: Once a wolf that had been prowl­ing the monastery grounds rav­aged a herd of don­keys. When St. Shio heard this, he prayed to God to trans­form the wolf into the pro­tec­tor of the herd. From that time on the wolf grazed peace­ful­ly among the oth­er ani­mals.

With the bless­ings of both his teacher, John of Zedazeni, and the catholi­cos of Geor­gia, St. Shio gath­ered his dis­ci­ples, advised them on the path they should fol­low, appoint­ed Eva­gre his suc­ces­sor as abbot, and went into reclu­sion in a well that he had dug for him­self. There St. Shio spent fif­teen years in prayer and fast­ing. Final­ly, when God revealed to him that his death was approach­ing, St. Shio par­took of the Holy Gifts and lift­ed up his hands, say­ing, “O Lord, receive the soul of Thy ser­vant!”

Lat­er, dur­ing one of the Per­sian inva­sions, the sol­diers of Shah Abbas uncov­ered the holy father’s relics and car­ried them back to Per­sia. In the same year Per­sia was rav­aged by a ter­ri­ble plague, and the fright­ened invaders returned the holy relics to the Shio-Mgvime Monastery.

© 2006 St. Her­man of Alas­ka Broth­er­hood.