As I have already told you, the Assyrian fathers came to Georgia in the 6th century to spread and strengthen Christianity among people. You already know that father David was one of the Assyrian fathers, who lived on the Mtatsminda Mountain. However, after non-believers accused him of impregnating a woman, he moved to the desert with his pupils – Dodo and Lukyane. At first, they lived in a cave. Later they founded a monastery right in this place.
David Gareja is one of Georgia's cave towns, located on the territory of the Kakheti Region. The first monastery there was called the 'David Gareja Monastery Complex.' At the same time, his pupils Dodo and Lukyane, have also founded other monasteries nearby.
According to the legend, anybody, who wanted to live and work in this monastery, had to pass a challenging exam. They would be given a firm ax, and this person had to cut out a cave on the cliff and live there in isolation for two years. Whoever was strong enough to live in such difficult conditions while praying all the time, could consider himself a member of the main monastery. However, those monks who overcame this challenge eventually stayed and later on founded their own monasteries.
Nowadays, 19 monasteries have been discovered in the desert, four of which are located on the territory of Azerbaijan.
The church, which stands here, was built in the 9th century. Father David and both of his disciples were buried here. There is a small stone on the grave of Saint David. The original one is kept in the Sioni Cathedral of Tbilisi.
There is a very interesting story related to this stone: Once Father David decided to travel to Jerusalem to pray at the saint places. However, when he approached the entrance of the city, he did not consider himself worth entering there. That is why he just took three stones and returned home.
That night the Bishop of Jerusalem saw an angel in his dream, who told him that a saint father had come to Jerusalem from Georgia and took the whole holiness of this place with him. The Bishop followed Father David and asked him to bring back two of those stones. As a result, Saint David took only one stone with himself and left the other two in Jerusalem, as the Bishop had asked him to.
Because of this story, we believe that in Georgia, there is 1/3 of the holiness of Jerusalem. Many miracles are connected with this stone, and people also say that if you visit the David Gareja Monastery Complex three times in your life, you will get the same grace you would if you visited Jerusalem once.
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