The holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze lived and labored in the 13th century. His father John, the archduke of Upper Atchara, perished in a battle with the Turks. After Tbeli’s mother was widowed, she was tonsured a nun and given the name Katherine. Tbeli’s brothers, Abuseri and Bardan, were also well-known figures in their time.
Saint Tbeli received an education befitting his noble rank and succeeded in fully developing his natural abilities.
Saint Tbeli left an indelible mark on the history of Georgian culture as a hymnographer, an astronomer, an expert in sacred music, and a scholar of diverse interests. We know from his works that he built a church in honor of Saint George in the village of Khikhani (in upper Atchara), and it has been suggested that he composed most of his works, including a chronicle of his own ancestry, in that village. He had seven children whom he brought there, and at the end of his chronicle he left a second testament, commanding that his family’s future generations be brought there as well.
Saint Tbeli contributed immensely to the life of Gelati Academy. Historians believe it was there that he received the broad education that allowed him to express himself in so many different fields. Saint Tbeli’s collection of hymns to Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom reveals his true piety and talent as a writer of the Church. The profound theological ideas, the symbolic and mystical comprehension of phenomena, the “knowledge of the visible” and “comprehension of the invisible” evident in this work paint Saint Tbeli as one equally endowed as both a scholar and a theologian.
Saint Tbeli was fascinated by the science of chronology, and he compiled a work called Chronicles: Complete Commentaries and Rules to address some of the problems related to chronology. Combining a solid understanding of astronomy and history, this work conveys the cosmic meaning of the Julian calendar and Christian eschatology. Saint Tbeli’s famous hagiographical work The New Miracle of Great-martyr George contains valuable historical information about the Abuseridze family’s efforts to revive Georgian culture during the ancient feudal epoch.
While pursuing his literary and scholarly interests, Saint Tbeli also labored as a holy and God-fearing pastor. (Scholars believe that the saint was a bishop of Tbeti, from which he received his appellation Tbeli.) The Georgian Apostolic Church has numbered our Holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze among the saints in recognition of the countless good deeds he performed on behalf of the Church and its people.