3rd of September
The historical records chronicling the lineage of chief shepherds in Georgia reveal that Saint Sarmean assumed leadership of the Georgian Apostolic Church in the year 767 (or 760, as some sources suggest) and served until 774. These were tumultuous years marked by Arab-Muslim rule in Georgia, during which the Arab authorities persecuted Christians, oppressed Church servants, and made persistent efforts to convert the country to Islam. Despite the harsh treatment endured by the faithful and the city’s transformation into an emir’s residence, many churches in Tbilisi continued to operate.
Saint Sarmean stood as a resolute defender of Orthodox Christianity. However, on one Cheese-fare Thursday at the Shio-Mgvime Monastery, a group of strangers arrived bearing gifts. Without inquiring about their faith, he administered Holy Communion to them. Later, he discovered that they were Jacobites, and his lapse in caution weighed heavily on him, revealed through a troubling dream that night.
Upon awakening the next morning, Catholicos Sarmean promptly summoned the bishops, admitted his mistake, publicly burned the gifts received from the Jacobites, and withdrew to an isolated cave, where he wept bitterly over his transgression.
Yet, the All-Merciful Lord sent a sign to Saint Sarmean, assuring him of the forgiveness of his sin. The bishops conveyed this message to him from Mtskheta: “O Great Sovereign Patriarch Sarmean! Rejoice! We, your spiritual children and believers in your holiness, along with the entire council of bishops, wish to inform you that Saint Shio has appeared to each of us, declaring that the Lord has pardoned your sin. Hasten and summon us to the monastery, so that we may join together in giving thanks to our Holy Father Shio!”
Holy Catholicos Sarmean, enriched with divine virtues of humility, faith, love, and the fear of God, guided his flock with wisdom until the end of his days. He peacefully reposed in the year 774.
O Great Sovereign Patriarch, Holy Catholicos Sarmean, have mercy upon your children and all those who believe in your blessedness!