Georgian Monk Renews Stylite Tradition, Lives Atop Pillar
In an isolated part of the Caucasus, a monk is spending his
days in prayer and silence atop a 40-meter pillar of limestone in western
Georgia (near the town of Chiatura).
The Katskhi Pillar was used by stylites -- Christian
ascetics who lived atop pillars and prayed without ceasing -- until the
15th century when the practice was stopped following the Ottoman Empire's
invasion of Georgia.
For centuries the pillar was abandoned and locals could only
look up at the mysterious ruins on its summit. Finally, in 1944, a mountain
climber ascended the pillar, discovering the skeleton of a stylite and the
remains of a chapel.
Shortly after the collapse of communism and the resurgence
of religion in Georgia, a former convict, Maxime Qavtaradze (now 59), decided to live atop the pillar in the way of the old stylites. See more photos>>