2. The village of Vayo - the shelter of the Kars confessors
EVIDENCE OF MARTYRS AND CONFESSORS COLLECTED BY ZACHARY CHICHINADZE 2. The village of Vayo - the shelter of the Kars confessors
40 kilometers from Batumi in the direction of Khulo, in the municipality of Keda, soon after Keda itself, there is the village of Vayo. It became a shelter for the Kars confessors in the 16th -17th centuries. Kars itself is located in Turkey today. This ancient city, according to historians, could be founded in the 4th century. However, Armenian and Byzantine sources mention it since the 9th century. Kars was the capital of Armenia until it was transferred to the city of Ani in the first half of 10th century. In 10th-11th centuries Kars was the capital of the Kara kingdom, until its accession in 1064 to Byzantium. During the invasion of the Seljuk Turks, Kars was under their rule.
However, in 1206, during the reign of Queen Tamara, Kars was liberated from the Seljuks and became part of the Georgian kingdom. For four centuries, Kars became a Georgian city, one of the centers of the Orthodoxy spread centers.
In the 16th century, as a result of the conquest wars of Suleiman I, Kars and the surrounding lands were captured by the Ottoman Turks.
According to the testimony of the descendants of the inhabitants of Kars, whose testimonies were recorded by Chichinadze and published in the book "Islamization of Georgia or Spread of Islam in western Georgia in the 17-18th centuries":
The story is told by a Muslim man named Gogitidze from Vayo village
"First of all, the Ottomans occupied the city and after a while demanded Georgians to accept Islam. But the Georgians disagreed and many of them were killed. Some of them fled to Kartli-Kakheti and stayed there. There was no end to this trouble.
There were noblemen Gogitidze who owned villages near Kars. They received commander's title from the Ottomans. One of the Gogitidze was very famous, a favorite of the people and faithful to his motherland. He went to the Ottomans and told them:
"Gentlemen, why are you afraid of us, why do you want us to betray our ancient faith? You will only gain more enemies, rather than killing so many people just start building up the country. I promise that no saber will be raised against you, no hostile speech will be said, leave us and our faith alone, because people are very tired and unhappy..."
The Ottomans answered him:
"Very well, we will follow your word and your promise, but only if you accept Islam yourself. Know that then we will assign you the Pasha of Kars, so you can rein on our behalf as you wish."
Gogitidze liked the advice, he thought that if by accepting Islam and, although he himself becomes Pasha, then he will be able to distract the people and the country and avoid all troubles, so he became a Muslim. They gave him the name of Said and assigned him the pasha of Kars. He did not rein for long when the order came from the Ottoman padishah saying that all Georgians in his country should accept Islam. The people came to Said-Pasha and said:
- What does it mean? they are strengthened, have learned all our secrets and now require our Islamization and renunciation of our faith?
Seyid pasha rebelled against the Turks together with the Georgians. Many Georgians and many Turks died in the battle, but a new army came to help the Turks so they won. Said-Pasha Gogitidze, together with his people, moved to Adjara since Adjara was Georgian. At that time, the Georgian king was in power there. After moving out of Kars, Said-Pasha Gogitidze settled in the Adjarian village of Vayo, there he consolidated and fought against the Ottoman Turks from there. Adjarians resisted for a long time. There were no more Georgians left, and whoever was left, accepted Islam in Kars. After a violent Islamization, the church was destroyed, the last priests were expelled, and those who spoke Georgian were forbidden to speak the language. They were told if they speak Georgian once more, they will be killed. Converts were very scared because they no longer had a defender and therefore had to speak Turkish. Little by little the Georgian language was almost forgotten. So nobody speaks Georgian in Kars region now. We are the descendants of Said-Pasha Gogitidze and his brothers, we live in Vayo and therefore, we know from the old people a lot of stories about Islamization and other ancient affairs. The Ottomans have brought a lot of evil to the Georgians in the vicinity of Kars, shamelessly and godlessly humiliating them. "
Judging by the evidence, the Gogitidze genus together with other inhabitants of the village, survived one more Islamization later, when the Ottomans conquered Adjara. However, despite this, Gogitidze kept the memory of their ancestors from Kars.
Today, on the territory of the former Kars region, there are three Turkish provinces: Kars, Erzurum, and Ardahan. You can still find monuments of Georgian temple architecture - ancient churches, most of which were converted into mosques on the territory of these provinces. The land of Kars is impregnated with the blood of martyrs who died for the faith of Christ during the Turkish invasion and subsequent Islamization. History has not saved their names but all of them are invisibly glorified in the Kingdom of Heaven for us. Just like those confessors of the faith of Christ who were ready to accept the Turkish rule, they did not agree to renounce their faith when the Turks broke the promise given to Said-Pasha Gogitidze. The survivors found shelters in the village of Vayo. We do not know the names and details of these events, just as it is not known whether Said-Pasha himself brought repentance for his renunciation and returned to the faith of his ancestors. It is not known whether his conversion to Islam was genuine, or committed by the blessing for the sake of the outgoing Christian fellow-countrymen by the word of the apostle Paul, "I would myself be excommunicated from Christ for my brethren who are my kin according to the flesh" (Romans 9:3). But the exploit of those who accepted death for their faith without renouncing it gives us the opportunity to appeal to them "Martyrs and confessors of Kars, pray to God for us!".