Georgian culture is completely inseparable from its Orthodox Christianity. The land and people have been Christian since the 4th century. People walking past a Georgian church stop, face the church and cross themselves before continuing on their way. The interior of the churches are dim with painted icons of saints and the holy family on the walls. Devotees kiss the icon and then dip their forehead to lightly touch the object as they pray. This is also done on the outside of the church’s gates and the interior corners of the building. Services are marked by chanting prayers and ethereal singing by the priest and select groups of worshippers. The Byzantine faces of the art, the candles, and the devotion of the people make the churches much more than a tourist attraction.
Text by Jett Thomason, photos by Stephen Bugno