Seti St. George Church

Seti St. George Church

Svaneti is one of those places that is all-but-guaranteed to leave an unforgettable impression on all who visit it. There is just something undeniably charming about the villages and their mystical towers against a backdrop of massive mountains and cliffs, ancient churches, and unspoiled wilderness.
Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti

The Historical Past of Seti St. George Church

In the townlet of Mestia, the 18th-century Seti St George Church stands as a testament to the region’s stoic endurance. The church is built over the ruins of a 10th-11th century monastery complex, using the foundations of an older church.

This older church once housed impressive frescoes, items for the liturgy, and an ancient holy object of Seti, the zoomorphic banner. 

What Was the Zoomorphic Banner?

The zoomorphic banner was called Lemi and was sewn with silk thread. A spear-shaped head made of silver and with representations of saints and inscriptions in ancient Georgian Asomtavruli script was nailed onto its wooden handle. The eyes and nose of the Lemi were embroidered with golden thread, and ears were sewn onto it. Jaws, teeth, and a tongue made of silver were attached to the banner. When moving quickly, the Lemi would fill with air and take the shape of an animal. It would be brought out during Khalishi, the spring holiday, and in times of war worthy individuals from the community would bear it to lead the soldiers into battle.

The Icons of Seti St. George Church

Metal icons have been found in Seti Church, providing evidence that metal-working was well-developed in Svaneti. A 12th-13th-century icon of the Mother of God with doors was found here, as well as a cross which would have stood in front of the altar, an icon of St. George from the first half of the 11th century, and a cross, on which all nine scenes of the martyrdom of Saint George are masterfully depicted. 

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