Nana of Iberia
Who is Nana of Iberia?
Nana was a Queen consort of Caucasian Iberia as the second wife of Mirian III in the 4th century. She is regarded as saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church for her role in conversion of the Iberians to Christianity.
According to the Georgian chronicles, Nana was "from Greek territory, from Pontus, the daughter of Oligotos” whom Mirian married after his first wife died. Nana bore Mirian two sons: Rev II, Varaz-Bakur and a daughter who married Peroz, the first Mihranid dynast of Gugark. Pontus here may refer to the Bosporan Kingdom, then a client state of the Roman Empire. Toumanoff has assumed that the name of Nana's father might have been a Georgian corruption of "Olympius" or "Olympus", a Bosporan dynast whose son Aurelius Valerius Sogus Olympianus, a Roman governor of Theodosia, is known from a Greek inscription of 306 dedicated to "the Most High God" on the occasion of the building of the Jewish "prayer house". There has also been an attempt to identify Nana as a younger daughter of Theothorses, a Bosporan king.
The medieval Georgian sources relate that Nana had been a staunch pagan and despised Christian preaching until she was miraculously cured of a terrible disease, and subsequently converted, by a Cappadocian Christian missionary, Nino. The Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus, writing half a century after the Iberian conversion on the basis of the oral account of Bacurius the Iberian, also mentions an unnamed queen of the Iberians who was cured by a woman, a Christian captiva. Through Nino’s ministry, King Mirian soon also was baptized and, c. 337, Christianity became a state religion of Iberia. Nana outlived her husband by two years, dying in 363. She was eventually canonized by the Georgian church. The royal saints are said to have been buried at the Samtavro convent in Mtskheta, where their tombs are still shown.
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