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Temple of Mokva

In the Mokva village, Ochamchira District ther is a famous cathedral of the Repose of the Holy Virgin constructed in the third quarter of the twentieth century by Leon III, the Abkhazian king (955-957).

It is the single five naves' and Greek cross temple completing the development of the Abkhazian ecclesiastic architecture of early Middle Ages which was started as far back as in the 7 th -10 th centuries in Pitsunda. According with some remaining and brief data this cathedral had been decorated luxuriously inside while its walls had been covered with rare art frescoes. Patriarch Dositheos of Constantinople visited Mokva in 1659 and revealed an inscription that this temple «has been painted during reign of emperor Alexius Comnenus under the great Abkhazian king David», i.e. in late 11 th century and early 12 th century.

The cathedral of Mokva was very popular and visited frequently. In 1640 here such guests as the Russian envoys were along with Pavel Zakhariev, the priest, on the way to Levan II Dadiany, Mingrelia ruling prince. Those people have reported as follows: «...on the ninth day of February we were in the monastery of Mokva together with bishops Andrey and Maxim when we, Fedot and Pavel, the priest, were shown the martyred archdeacon Stephan having both intact arms and feet bones and the cross of tat tree from the Christ crucifixion».

In the end of the seventeenth century the Mokva cathedral was abandoned.

M. Brosset, the famous researcher of the Caucasus and academician, visited the cathedral of Mokva in 1848 and wrote: «The spacious size of the church building entangled with climbing and creeping plants, its roof transformed into the airy garden, its wonderful dome prolonged by tall trees' trunks – everything must astonish any viewer. But regretfully the broken pieces of color glass, remains of cornices along with its beautiful carvings, dilapidated porches should cause visitors to be discouraged».

In fifties of the 19 th century the temple was restored, its floor was paved again with sandstone plates, a new aisle was erected from the west side and a small rotunda was constructed on the cupola. At the same time the cathedral was transformed into the shrine where such persons as Mikhail Shervashidze, the last ruling prince of Abkhazia with his son George, poet and social figure, Abkhazian warlords have been buried.

In 1920 the valuable gospel owned by the Mokva archbishopric was stolen from the Mokva cathedral and took out abroad. It had been written on 328 pages and decorated with miniatures and ornaments made by Ephraem, the monk under Archbishop Daniel of Mokva in 1300. The gospel of Mokva was returned in 80's of the 20 th century to the USSR and currently it is kept in the manuscript department of the Museum of Arts of Georgia ( Tbilisi ).

In 2002 the Mokva cathedral of the Repose of the Holy Virgin was reopened and on October 6 and 7 such services as All Night Vigilance and the Divine Liturgy were rendered under its official ceremony.

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