Memory 30 October (12 November)
In 1446, Giorgi VIII ascended to the throne as the ruler of a unified Georgian kingdom. Renowned for his virtues, he was not only a valiant warrior but also a devout and God-fearing king. Throughout his twenty-year reign, he tirelessly fought to reunify his country, defending it from foreign invaders, overcoming internal conflicts, and enduring the betrayal of his fellow countrymen.
Among the separatists was the atabeg Qvarqvare Jakeli II (1451–1498), ruler of Samtskhe. In 1465, King Giorgi led his troops southward to confront the rebellious atabeg. Near Lake Paravani, traitors attempted to assassinate the king by sending assassins to his camp.
Within the royal court served a loyal man named Iotam Zedgenidze, deeply devoted to his king. Learning about the dreadful conspiracy, Iotam urgently warned the king. However, the noble and fearless Giorgi, perhaps blinded by his unwavering love and trust in others, didn’t believe such a treacherous betrayal could occur.
Determined to prove the reality and immediacy of the danger, Iotam made an extraordinary proposal: he requested permission to spend the night in the king’s bed, offering to show the truth of his warnings. Believing Iotam’s fears were unfounded, King Giorgi allowed him to take up the offer.
When morning arrived, the king entered his tent only to discover his beloved Iotam lying lifeless in a pool of blood. Overwhelmed with grief and regret, he realized his grave mistake. Swiftly, he apprehended and executed the conspirators, honoring his loyal servant with a dignified burial.
The Georgian Church later recognized Iotam Zedgenidze as a saint due to his unwavering devotion to the anointed king and to God. Today, the faithful remember him as the right-believing and divinely crowned Martyr Iotam, seeking his intercession before God on behalf of all.