May 2009 - St. Tamara
Saint Tamara, Queen of Georgia (1212)
Saint Tamara was the only child of King George III. Upon his death in 1184, she became Queen at the age of twenty-four. Despite her youth, she ruled the country with such wisdom and godliness leading it to unprecedented military triumphs over the neighboring Moslem countries in defense of her kingdom, fostering arts and letters, and zealously strengthening the Orthodoxy faith among her people. Her reign is known as the Golden Age of Georgia.
After her coronation, she convened a Council of the Church to correct disorders in church life. When the bishops had assembled from all parts of her kingdom, she, like Saint Constantine at the First Ecumenical Council, honored them as if she were a commoner, and they Angels of God; exhorting them to establish righteousness and redress abuses, she said in her humility, "Do away with every wickedness, beginning with me, for the prerogative of the throne is in no wise that of making war against God." Because of her insistence on reforming the Church to its original teachings and practices, St. Tamara is called the 'Right Believing'.
Saint Tamara called herself "the mother of orphans and the judge of widows," and her contemporaries regarded her as equal to a "King". She herself led her army against the Moslems and fearlessly defeated them; because of the reverence that even the enemies of Georgia had for her, entire mountain tribes renounced Islam and were baptized.
She built countless churches and monasteries throughout her kingdom, and was a benefactress also to the Holy Land, Mount Athos, and holy places in Greece and Cyprus. She has always been much beloved by her people, who have memorialized her meekness, wisdom, piety, obedience, and peace-loving nature in innumerable legends, ballads, and songs; the poem written in her honor by Shota Rustaveli, "The Knight of the Panther Skin," is the masterpiece of Georgian literature. The great Queen Tamara departed the earthly kingdom for the heavenly in the year 1212.