Lomisoba – Religious Fervor OR Mindless Slaughter of Animals?
19 June, 2014
Lomisoba – Religious Fervor OR Mindless Slaughter of Animals?
On top of the Lomisa hill a long chain of people is moving slowly on the road leading to the church. Every year, on the first Wednesday after Pentecost, Christians from almost every corner of Georgia gather near village Mleta to pay respect to Lomisi Saint George in the church that was built in the 13th century.

This miraculous place and the ancient church draw thick streams of worshippers on other days too. Yet, the complex terrain makes it really
difficult to walk around especially during the celebration. On this path, you can meet people who make ninth and even tenth rounds, always barefoot.
Before embarking on the church road, you notice a butchery – in front of a church, where people sacrifice sheep and boil them in giant pots. Some bulky guys there were carrying sacrificed animals on their back. I asked one of them whether he purchased the animal. They said: “No, we sacrificed the sheep to Saint George in the church and now are going to have a party.” I wondered: “If you sacrificed the animals then why have not you left them there?!” “To whom?” he shrugged. “We sacrificed the sheep to Saint George and now we are inviting you to the feast.” (?!)
On my way, I could not get away from dampening thoughts: What is wrong with us? If we are Christians then why are we not heeding to the Patriarch’s words? Not once has he called for the people to give the animals to widows and orphans alive in the name of the Savior, instead of killing them. This horrible scene gets uglier with a sea of garbage – polyethylene bottles, empty ice-cream packages and alike - thrown away by the worshippers left and right.
After a three-hour ascension under the hot sun or heavy rain, you finally reach the church. Built with stone fragments, the church is somewhat damaged. You can make out remains of different facilities around the church. There is even a two-decker medieval stone chapel – actually only half of it still stands today. Old quarters for monks are in ruins. So, today the monastery brotherhood lives in a tent, praying all year round. If the worshippers were to join forces, we would have managed to connect the Aragvi River to the summit with a chain and build new monastic quarters. Alas! The old ruins are turned into a posh restaurant by blood-letting, crapulent sacrifice-makers, who leave behind all kinds of biological parts of the animal carcasses including severed frozen-eyed heads, guts etc.
Sacrifices were common in previous centuries but no one dared to do it in a church yard. Sacrifice was allowed only in a special area and all the meat had to be donated to widows, orphans and the poor. This issue was regulated by decrees of patriarchs and kings. Today, the sacrifices take place in the church yard. Worshippers sacrifice the animals while only having a vague idea of why they are doing it there and in the meantime are abusing a centuries-old tradition. Who cares about widows or orphans?

Ironclad Door of the Lomisi Church

There is a Georgian inscription from the XVI-VII century on the ironclad oak door of the Lomisi church. It contains the names of the door-maker and bread and iron material donors. According to another legend, royal troops once made a stopover on the hill. The hungry soldiers could not find wood to prepare food. So, their commander ordered them to utilize the Lomisi door. The soldiers did just that. They managed to cook and eat but immediately lost their eyesight. The commander appealed to the Lomisa Saint George to forgive him and give them their eyesight back, promising to make an iron door for the church. The soldiers started to see again and the grateful commander made an iron door for the church. This door remains there till these days. It is opened periodically by those seeking the help of Saint George.

The Lomisa Chain

Another thing to see is the chain with a neck strap, which was brought to the church by a female from the Dadiani royal family of the Samegrelo region. She is said to have carried it barefoot, on her shoulders, as a present to the Saint George icon. Others tell a different story – that it was a Georgian man miraculously freed from captivity by Saint George who delivered this chain. He wore the chain on his shoulders in captivity and brought it to the church to express his gratefulness. A section of the chain was lost. The remaining section still weighs 60 kilograms. Anyone wanting to promise something or appeal to Saint George hoists the chain over the neck and walks around the church three times while praying. A lot of people are willing to carry the chain during Lomisoba.
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