Memorable programs, memorable people

05 September 2019 - 06 September 2019

We Were Guests in the Land of Saint George

It seemed as if the combatant Georgian warriors of the Middle Ages had come to life, in their fierce liveliness, leaping unstoppably, landing on their knees. Watching the awe-inspiring dance of the members of the Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet, intertwining past and present, I contemplated how our characters are determined by our past and our national culture. Visiting Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia enclosed by the soaring mountain peaks of the Caucasus, I was offered a glimpse into the unique legacy of a special people. On frescoes of monasteries wrapped in silence, as well as on the enamel pictures sold on market stalls and on sculptures, I was time and time again met by the image of a saint holding a lance. The saint was a soldier martyr, Saint George, the patron saint of the country, who defeated evil and who lived during the first centuries of Christianity. Later on, at an exhibition, I saw the cherished illustrations by Mihály Zichy of the Georgian national epic, The Knight Dressed in Tiger Skin. The ideal of chivalry, deeply ingrained in the history of the Georgian people, is today manifest in their infinite hospitality. In Georgia, it is all about their guests. Visitors are met with love and kindness, accompanied by excellent food, joyfulness and the resonant songs of ad-hoc choirs. It is probably no coincidence either, that this is the only place in the world with a mosque used by both Sunnies and Shiites, peacefully, in the land of ancient orthodox Christian monasteries. We returned from our two-day-journey in the land of Saint George to Saint George Square with lasting memories.