According to Holy Tradition, St. Nino and Great-martyr George were blood relatives. At the same time as St. George’s martyrdom, a nobleman, Zabulon, arrived in Rome from Cappadocia. Zabulon began to serve in the emperor’s army, and before long was widely recognized as a courageous cavalryman and fine soldier.
During a battle with the Franks, the Lord granted victory to Zabulon – the Frankish king and his suite were captured and delivered to the Roman emperor. The emperor sentenced them to death, but before they were executed they confessed their desire to be baptized into the Christian Faith. Zabulon relayed this to the emperor, with Zabulon himself becoming their godfather. Zabulon then pleaded with the emperor to have mercy on his godchildren, and the emperor set them free.
Nearly all the Franks were converted to Christianity as a result of Zabulon’s struggles on behalf of the Faith. A ninth-century Georgian hymnographer wrote, “Zabulon converted Gaul with his sword, and Blessed Nino converted Georgia with the Life-giving Cross.”
Some time later, St. Zabulon journeyed to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. While there, he distributed all his possessions to the poor and began to serve Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem. He met Sosana (Susanna), the sister of the patriarch, and they were married shortly thereafter.
The newly-wedded couple moved to Cappadocia, where they had a baby girl whom they named Nino. While raising Nino, St. Sosana served God and the needy with great dedication.
When Nino reached the age of twelve, her parents sold all their possessions and moved back to Jerusalem. With the blessing of Patriarch Juvenal, Zabulon left for the wilderness to begin a life of asceticism. With the patriarch’s blessing, Sosana continued to minister to the poor and infirm.
On December 10, 1996, the Georgian Orthodox Church declared Zabulon and Sosana, the parents of St. Nino, confessors of the Christian Faith. Living during a time when paganism was still widely practiced and Christians were often persecuted, this holy couple converted many people and then abandoned worldly things to follow only God.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )