With a blessing
of His Eminence Metropolitan Dimitry of Batumi and Lazsky

The site is dedicated to the Georgian martyrs for Christ in Adjara, Lazeti and Tao-Klarjeti

8. Maradid Martyrs

If you drive on the route along the Chorokhi River, 20 km from Batumi, then you can get to the village of Maradidi. This village is one of the few Georgian villages of the Libani Gorge, which remained after the Kara Peace as part of Georgia, which was not given up by the Bolsheviks of Turkey.

The history of Islamization of these places in the 16th century was told by a resident of the village of Nadarbazevi, a former officer, the old Muslim man Tikanadze (Sofioshvili) to Zachary Chichinadze:

"The Ottomans seized the Libani Gorge, but Libani did not obey them, a lot of blood was shed. The Ottomans sent their people and demanded complete submission, but the inhabitants of Libani refused. They blocked the Chkhalsky Gorge, fortified the Makriyal road, became entrenched in the fortress of Queen Tamara and prepared for war with the Ottomans. The battle began, many people were killed on both sides, our foes were better than the Ottomans, even the women kept the defense. But there were more Ottomans, after all, they managed to break into the gorge and capture it. Soon the Ottomans brought the hodja to the gorge. Many fled to Georgia but most people stayed here. My ancestors stayed since the Ottomans offered them to accept the title "aha", because they were nobles at the time of the Georgian tsars. Noble title was granted to them even during the time of Queen Tamara, then my ancestors also received the name Tikanadze because one of my ancestors was the head of the economic court and the herd of goats in particular.¹

At first, the Ottomans masterfully acted with the people, they did not demand acceptance of Islam and were content only with the approved tax (kharaj). But after some time, they began to force people to accept Islam, but they did not succeed. The old people said that in just one day four hundred people were executed in Maradidi for refusing to accept Islam. The great Maradidi church was destroyed, the Maradida Bridge was burned so that people сould not flee to Adjara. This bridge stood on the Chorokhi River and at that time was the only bridge in Libani. The Maradida Church was large and beautiful. In the following time, the Christians had a very difficult time but also the Ottomans did not know peace, it was difficult for them to give a plan for the full humiliation of the Georgian population. "

Unfortunately, we do not know the details of the life and execution of the 400 martyrs mentioned in this story. However, beyond any doubt, from this story, as well as from the other Chichinadze cited, one can understand how the Islamization of Georgia was given to the Ottomans. First, during the conquest itself, the extermination and eviction of the most active Christians, patriotic to their homeland, occurred. Then the turn of those who were ready to accept foreign domination came but those people did not agree to betray their faith. It was them, loyal to the Kingdom of Heaven, who became martyrs, subjected to executions and tortures. Destroying the faithful, the Ottomans proceeded to bribe, intimidation and deceiving the rest of the population. But even so, they had to confine themselves to the formal acceptance of Islam among the local population, weakening the norms approved by Mohammed for his followers. For example, the majority Adjarian Muslims still eat pork and drink wine. This "weakening" of other norms of Islamic practices touched upon, as evidenced by the continuation of the story begun above:

"Those villages that were near the Chorokhi River quickly adopted Islam, the same ones that were far away in the mountains, where the population resisted for a long time. To implement their plan to spread Islam, the Ottomans did the following: they invited influential people from all villages and stated to them: "Whoever will try and bring people to Islam will be given the title of "aha" and for each Muslim family one gold." These people liked the Ottoman proposal and they began to go to remote villages and teach people. They said that Islam should be accepted voluntarily and that the Ottomans would be very angry, and it would be bad for everyone, that we have no other choice, etc. People listened, and with bad deeds, they drove the priests out of their villages, and instead of them, they invited hodjas. At first, the hodjas prayed with people in abandoned churches and the people got used to Islam without seeing anything wrong. Influential people got a lot of money for their work and they trusted them to manage all this land and people. If it were not for the betrayal of these people, if it were not for their influence on the spread of Islam in these places, it is possible that Islam would not have appeared in Libani for another 100 years. Above Libani in the middle of Chaneti are such hard-to-reach mountains and villages in such places that after the conquest of their Ottomans there and did not look until now. It was a betrayal, otherwise, the Ottomans would not have been able to easily humiliate the local population. hodjas and the mullahs taught the people with great difficulty to Muslim prayers, primarily because the people were not taught five times a day to pray and wash their feet before every prayer, as required by the norms of Islam. Somehow people turned to hodja: Hodja, how is it possible to pray five times a day, to wash out feet with cold water five times a day, it is difficult in winter...

"What can we do brothers, our faith is so pure and holy, but when you were Christians, you did not have this custom and you used to be dirty."

- It is true, but it is still hard to take off shoes and wash our feet in cold water.

- No worries, then you do not take your shoes off, wet your hands with water and with a wet palm wash your shoes like if you took your shoes off and barefoot. Muhammad will not take offense at you, you are still converting Muslims.

This is how the mullahs taught newly-converted Muslims to wash their feet.

No matter how the Georgians opposed the spread of Islam, they could not do anything against it, there was no strength, there was no help from nowhere, no one could resist the Ottoman sword for a long time. A lot of Georgian blood was shed everywhere."

¹Tikani - translated from Georgian means "goat"