At Zegaani in Kakheti there is a complex of three early churches. The fifth-century church of St. Marina is exceptionally small and its nearest comparable building in terms of design seems to be the tiny church of St. Nino in Samtavro, Mtskheta. The interior of the space is richly frescoed with an (unpublished) sixteenth to seventeenth century fresco cycle, that is currently open to the elements given the lack of windows and doors on the church. There is a simple, single naved church dedicated to the Archangels of an inter determinate date and a large three-church basilica dedicated to the Virgin and of an architectural type very similar to the basilica to the north of the valley at Nekresi. Like the Nekresi basilica, this church is believed to date to the sixth to seventh century. This basilica was in the process of being resorted at the time of the visit as the site was being re-established as a working monastery.
Zedazeni is the monastery associated with St. Ioane Zedazneli, who is referred to in Georgian hagiographical sources as the leader of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers. He is believed to have retreated to the mountains of Kvemo Kartli north of Mtskheta with a band of local followers such as Elia Diakoni (Elia the Deacon) and founded a monastery there. A tomb in the north aisle of the small church is believed by the faithful to be his shrine. Although art historians and archaeologists have argued that some elements of the church at the site date back to the sixth century, the evidence for this has yet to be published and it is difficult to make out the chronology of the building which has been heavily restored over the centuries. As with many ancient Christian sites in Georgia, in particular those associated with saintly figures, the foundation has been re-established since the fall of communism and is now home to an ultra-orthodox religious community who are on the fringes of the Georgian Orthodox church. This extremist tendency is illustrated by the fashioning of a giant cross from a disused electricity pylon and the construction of a giant wall of icon reproductions several hundred metres from the monastery compound.
Martqopi is monastery in the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia to the north east of Tbilisi. As with several other ancient monasteries, the village named Martqopi is now some kilometres distant from the monastery of that name as the monastery and accompanying settlement have divided over time and the monastery is known as Gvtaeba. The site is named for St. Anton Martqopeli, believed to have been one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and who is believed to have brought the Holy Tile of Edessa (the Keramidion) to Georgia. Although the Keramidion is believed to be a miraculous imprint made on a tile by the Mandylion, the miraculous cloth that Christ left an imprint of his face on and therefore a secondary icon after the Mandylion, in Georgia this story has become confused and St. Anton is now often said to have brought the Mandylion itself to Georgia. The saint is often referred to as a 'Stylite' as he repudedly lived alone in a tower above the main monastery for some years. This building is now closed to visitors but is referred to interchageably as a 'koshki' (tower) or 'sveti' (pillar or column). As at Ubisa this dwelling resembles a tower house rather than the Syrian-style column found at Qal'at Seman and Semandağ. There is also a modern tomb at this site reorted to be that of St. Anton, replicating the situation across a number of sites associated with the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers where relatively recent shrines have been constructed.
The Church of St. Stepane Khirseli is actually located in the modern village of Tibaani, rather than the eponymous Khirsa in Kakheti. This is the easternmost site associated with the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and, as with many other of the sites, has little if any evidence of early Christian occupation with the church dating to the medieval period and having been substantially renovated in the seventeenth century. As with a number of these sites a shrine around the saint's purported grave seems to be a relatively new phenomenon.
This damaged female saint is facing west on the central arch of the northern arcade and was photographed before cleaning.
This damaged female saint is facing east on the central arch of the northern arcade and was photographed before cleaning.
This figure is facing St. Catherine and the west on the westernmost arch of the northern arcade but although generally well-preserved, the inscription naming the saint has not survived. This picture was taken before the image was cleaned.
St. Catherine is well-preserved and is the east-facing saint on the westernmost arch of the northern arcade. This picture was taken before the fresco was cleaned.
The evangelist Luke is on the western spandrel of the northern arcade of the nave and although partially damaged is still identifiable as St. Luke.
John is located on the eastern spandrel of the northern arcade of the nave and is the most damaged of the four evangelists. This picture was taken before the painting was cleaned and consolidated.