Nicholas Batonishvili was the son of Levan I, King of Kakheti (1520-1574). He lived during the grievous period of the Persian invasion of eastern Georgia. The young prince chose the path of monastic life and bravely helped his elder brother, King Alexandre II (1574-1605).
Despite his royal blood, he preferred the monk’s habit and the sweet, light yoke of Christ to the glamour and opulence of his inheritance.
According to God’s will, Nicholas was enthroned as Catholicos of All Georgia. The Georgian chronicle Life of Kartli (Kartlis Tskhovreba) relates the date of his enthronement as Saturday, February 28, 1584.
Armed with the highest hierarchical rank, royal blood, and personal integrity, Catholicos Nicholas was an exemplary leader for the Georgian nation. He struggled to plant the seeds of Christian love between countries of like faith.
He corresponded with Patriarch Job of Russia (1586-1590) and even sent him a horse. He also donated a leather-bound illuminated manuscript of the Gospels, copied in 1049, to the Metekhi Church of the Theotokos.
In his book Pilgrimage, the renowned eighteenth-century historian Archbishop Timote (Gabashvili) reports that there is an icon of Holy Catholicos Nicholas hanging in the refectory at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. Bishop Timote also describes another refectory, built by Ashotan Mukhran-Batoni, and notes, “There, I believe, Catholicos Nicholas Batonishvili reposed.”