Memory 31st of January
Saint Alexi (Shushania) was born on September 23, 1852, in the village of Noqalaqevi, located in the Senaki district of Samegrelo. He was blessed with pious Christian parents, but tragedy struck when his father passed away in 1868. At the tender age of sixteen, Alexi received his father’s blessing to care for the family, a responsibility he embraced wholeheartedly.
In that same year, Alexi embarked on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and from there, he journeyed to Constantinople to visit his uncle, Islam Shushania, a wise and devout merchant. While in Constantinople, Alexi felt drawn to the world of trade and contemplated following the same path. However, he soon discovered that God had a different plan for his life.
One fateful day, Alexi borrowed a small icon of St. John the Baptist from his uncle. Alone in his room, he experienced a profound inner struggle. His love for his family and friends clashed with an invisible force calling him to a spiritual life. After hours of agonizing contemplation, Alexi asked himself how he could reconcile his father’s wishes with God’s calling. In a moment of divine revelation, an unseen voice answered, assuring him that if he entrusted everything to God, his family would be cared for.
This encounter transformed Alexi’s life. He secluded himself in his room for months, immersing himself in the Holy Scriptures and observing a strict fast. Witnessing the radical transformation in his nephew’s way of life, his uncle realized it was time to leave Constantinople and return to Georgia.
It didn’t take long for Alexi’s loved ones to recognize that he had made a covenant with God, choosing the path of monastic life. While his siblings were distressed by the news, his mother rejoiced and blessed her son’s decision. At the age of twenty, Alexi relocated to Teklati Women’s Monastery, where he embraced a rigorous ascetic lifestyle. He traveled from village to village, tending to those afflicted with serious illnesses and offering a dignified burial to the homeless.
Over time, many came to regard Alexi as a fool-for-Christ, captivated by his intense preaching and exemplary way of life. His mother, Elene, his younger sister Salome, and his brother Besarion were inspired by his devotion and joined him in the monastic journey. Besarion embarked on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, eventually being ordained a priest at Martvili Monastery.
Alexi also spent time on Mount Athos and made a pilgrimage to the Kiev Caves Monastery before returning to Georgia to continue his labor. In 1885, he settled in Gelati Monastery, where he deepened his studies and produced original works. Later, he served at Khobi Monastery, ordained as a deacon and then a hieromonk. In 1890, he fell ill and returned to Teklati Monastery to be with his mother and sisters.
As God willed it, Alexi’s health was restored, prompting him to establish a cell in the village of Menji, near his birthplace. There, he led a stricter ascetic life, mentoring his disciples. His health improved to the extent that he could once again perform divine services. Despite his rigorous asceticism, Hieromonk Alexi remained remarkably close to the people in his community, radiating spiritual warmth that touched the hearts of many.
After many years of selfless service, the toll of asceticism began to weigh heavily on Father Alexi’s health. He dismissed his pupils and spent his final years with his cousins, the schemanuns Akepsima and Pasto. On January 18, 1923, Father Alexi peacefully reposed, his frail body weary from a life filled with labor in the service of the Lord.
Following his passing, the schemanuns Akepsima and Pasto vigilantly safeguarded Father Alexi’s humble dwelling for forty days, fearing destruction by the Communist government. Later, they laid his body to rest at Teklati, while they themselves continued their labor at the Archangels’ Monastery. With the blessing of Metropolitan Eprem, the schemanun Akepsima and Abbess Pasto transferred Father Alexi’s incorrupt relics from Teklati to the Archangels’ Monastery, burying them near the east wall of the temple on January 8, 1960. Saint Alexi was canonized on September 18, 1995.
Let the heavens rejoice in the holiness of Saint Alexi, who, with the nine ranks of angels, glorified the Most Holy Trinity. May he intercede with Christ to bring salvation to our souls!