O handmaiden of the Word of God, who equaled the first-called Apostle Andrew in preaching, and emulated the other Apostles; enlightener of Iberia and lyre of the Holy Spirit, Holy equal of the Apostles Nina, pray to Christ God for the salvation of our souls. (Troparion)
From the Life of St. Nina, Equal to the Apostles, Enlightener of Georgia., we learn how the Caucasian nation of Georgia embraced Christianity in the early part of the 4th Century. St. Nina is a favorite missionary saint of mine. I found her story inspiring because she was a slave and a woman – a rather insignificant person in history – and yet she changed the history and direction of an entire nation. She owned nothing and was herself owned by others. Like St. Paul she saw all of her life and trials as being part of being a slave to Christ, not to the world. In the first life of St Nina I read, I was impressed by the fact that because of her missionary effort, she was given permission by the bishop to herself baptize the King of Georgia when he embraced Christianity. That struck me as being especially unique in a church which is so dominated by male clerics. (Only some accounts of her life report this, others do not. The first hagiography I read of hers was from the Armenian tradition. But the unusualness of such a claim gives it some credence to me and my guess is that through the centuries a male dominated clergy probably scrubbed the story of Nina being given permission to baptize the king.). She is one of a dozen or so people in the world given the title of “Equal to the Apostles” by the Church for her work in spreading the Christian faith, and one of maybe 3 women given that exulted title. One does not have to be given much by God to make the most of it. For all those Christians who think money and power are what the Church needs to succeed in the world, one only has to think about St Nina.
Come, all of you, let us sing praises today to the one chosen by Christ, the equal of the Apostles, the preacher of God’s Word, the wise bearer of good tidings, who brought the people of Kartli to the path of life and truth; she is the disciple of the Mother of God, our zealous intercessor and unsleeping guardian, the all-praised Nina. (Kontakion)