A feast of many meanings

North, on the military road, about 100 km from Tbilisi, one finds the epicenter of a yearly manifestation of human faith. It takes place on the slopes the Caucasus and is an ode to an arduous journey of a shared history and religious devotion. It is the ultimate expression of tradition and a spectacle of the inherent need to marry belief with identity. This is “Lomisoba” – a feast of many meanings.

One that arouses faith in the divine, sacrifice, freedom from foreign invasion (in this case the Persians), and reinforces the imaginary confines that consolidate national identities in a people divided. As a visitor, one is rapidly engulfed by the steady stream of pilgrims determined to scale the 2,300 m summit. We all do so in order to reach the church of St. George of Lomisa and the adjacent monastery.

Lomisa is situated on the ridge of the mountain where the emerging boundary line between Georgia and South Ossetia cuts through the courtyard of the medieval church. It is said that the key and the gate to the church are found on each side of the boundary. Therefore, Lomisoba can only take place if both Georgians and Ossetians unite.

On this day, the seventh week after Easter, it seems that piety and tradition can transcend the strive for self-determination, identity and nationality. On this day tradition transcends conflict.

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