Abu of Tbilisi

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Saint martyr Abu of Tbilisi, +790 (January 8).

Abu (in Georgian transcription - Abo) was highborn Arab, born in Baghdad, and, according to his biography, "excellent connoisseur of mohammedan books" - Qur’an and Law. We do not know, why ca. 775 he fled from his home to distant Georgia (then the emirate of Tbilisi), together with only the just rescued ruler Kartli Nerses as one of his attendants. This blast was rather a tribute to his youth.

On arrival to Georgia, Abu, how the author his life reports, still a moslem, "has deserved love and respect of the whole people". Probably this young Arab was a person of scientific habit of mind: he studied the Georgian language and proceeded to seriously study the Bible and Christianity on the whole. He attends the Divine Liturgy, perceiving its meaning. He talks with educated Christians. All this gradually convinced Abu to make the decision to embrace christianity as the single true religion. It is very important for us that in his conversion both his heart and mind participated.

For the time being Abu, like Achmed, does not declare himself a Christian. At this time political circumstances change and newly deposed Nerses with 300 servitiors left Kartli and set off to Chazaria.

There Abu accepts baptism.

Meantime Stephen, a nephew of Nerses, was elected in Kartli as ruler, pleading to caliph for his uncle's return. Nerses (and Abu) return to Georgia. For three years he openly professes and preaches about Christ in Arabic quarters of Tbilisi and nobody ventured to cause him ills. However, hostility to "apostate" amongst influential muslims relentlessly rose.

In December 785, the saint first was arrested and then thrown in a dungeon. After several days, on solicitation of the ruler Stephen, he was freed. However, the saint was not free for a very long time. His foes inform kadi that Abu was born moslem and later converted in Christianity, so on this base they asked repeatedly for his arrest. Having heard about this delation, some Christians alerted the Abu beforehand, and offered to help him to escape, but the saint peacefully answered to that:

“I am ready for Christ, not only to torments, but also to death

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