Friday, October 14, 2011

Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani

Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani   was a Georgian prince, writer, monk and convert to Roman Catholicism.Sulkhan Orbeliani was born into a prestigious dynasty of the Georgian nobility, with close ties to the Royal Bagrationi Dynasty. He was a great figure of the Renaissance; he was a remarkable fabulist, great lexicographer, translator, diplomat and scientist. The words of one of the French missioner Jean Richard brilliantly conform to his great authority among his contemporaries, “I believe him to be the father of all Georgia."


Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani was born on the 4th of November, 1658, in Village Tandzia near Bolnisi in the Kvemo Kartli. He spent his childhood and adolescence there. He was brought up at court of King Giorgi XI and got encyclopedic education due to the Great Palace Library. When he was 20–25 years old he wrote a collection of fables and tales “Sibrdzne Sitsruisa” (“Wisdom of Fancy”), which is a fruit of his observation over life. 
The next his work is The Georgian Dictionary which contained the encyclopedic elements excels with its advanced methodology and plenty of actual material (it is necessary to emphasize that “the world does not know the encyclopedia yet. Collection of these words is a great treasure. Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani was an educator of the King of Kartli Vakhtang VI. Remarkable poet and scientist Vakhtang VI was the leader of the great movement initiated for intellectual renaissance of Georgia. They founded a lot of glorious deeds in the cultural sphere. In 1709 the first printing-house was established, where for the first time the Gospel and “The Knight in Tiger’s Skin”, were printed.
Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani appealed to the West for assistance.The growth of his state authority was crowned with his diplomatic missions. The route of travel of the great Georgian figure was as follows: Constantinople, Marseilles, Paris, Rome, and other cities of Italy and finally back to Georgia through Constantinopol and Turkey. In Paris Sulkhan-Saba appeared before Ludwig XIV and in Italy before the Papa Clemente XI. They knew that he was considered to be the Father of all Georgia and therefore they treated him as an honourable guess.
The ruling circles in France changed and relations with countries of the Near East became aggravated. Concrete historical circumstance made the travel of Sulkhan-Saba unsuccessful, his attempts to bring Georgia and states of Western Europe together turned out to be all in vain.


Before becoming a monk of David-Garedja Monastery 1698 under the name Saba, he converted to the Roman Catholic Church (1692). He originally practiced his new religion in secret. After 1703 he made spreading the Catholic Faith in Georgia a major policy of King Vakhtang VI, who had been his pupil. In 1713-1714 he made a journey to the Holy See and to France. He visited Pope Clement XI and King Louis XIV and requested aid from them for King Vakhtang and the Catholic Faith in Kartli (East-Georgian Kingdom). After his return to Kartli he actively began trying to spread Catholicism in Georgia.







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