Commemorated on May 3
The biographies of Sts. Michael and Arsenius the Georgians have unfortunately not been preserved.
It is known that they were contemporaries of Patriarch Sergius of Jerusalem (843–859). The following entry is recorded in the synodicon of Jerusalem’s Holy Cross Monastery: “Our Holy Fathers Michael and Arsenius, founders of Olympus.” The record indicates that Sts. Arsenius and Michael established Georgian monasticism on Mt. Olympus. (located in Bythinia of Asia Minor, southeast of Prousa, was an important monastic center from the 5th to the 14th centuries. The monasteries of Olympus came to include the monastic communities on the plain of Prousa. The number of monasteries in the region is numbered at around fifty, their apogee occurring between the 8th and 10th centuries, when Olympus occupied the first place in the list of holy mountains. Monasteries in the region included Atroa, Chenolakkos, Medikion, and Pelekete.)
According to Paul Ingorokva, a scholar of the Georgian Middle Ages, Arsenius was probably a disciple of St. Grigol of Khandzta. Ingorokva calls Arsenius “a handsome gentleman, a kind monk full of wisdom, the son of a great nobleman, and a relative of St. Ephraim, bishop of Atsquri.”
It is believed that at some point Arsenius moved from Khandzta Monastery to Palestine and labored there with a certain Macarius of Leteti. Afterward, St. Arsenius founded a Georgian monastery on Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor. Twenty years later, Venerable Ilarion the Georgian arrived on Mt. Olympus and found three Georgian monks who were almost certainly disciples of Michael and Arsenius.
© 2006 St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.