This is Katskhi Pillar. It abruptly rises 40 meters from the hills of Central Georgia and looks similar to a giant’s club. Its mythical aura made it a place of worship since humans settled this area. Prior to the arrival of Christianity, the pillar served as a pagan holy place for a long time and was most likely used for fertility rites.
In the 4th century, Georgia adapted Christianity as its state religion, and Katskhi Pillar became the site of a small church first built in the 7th century. The church that sits atop the pillar resembles the practice of the Stylites who were early Christian ascetics who prayed on top of wooden pillars. Following the lead of the much-revered Saint Simeon Stylites, who sat atop a pillar for almost 40 years, these pious Christians tortured their bodies and devouted their spirit to their religion.
Strange place to build a church, right? Completely separate from the world around it? Where people can go and not be bothered? No influence in the community or the wider world?
Strange place to build a church. But perhaps you don’t have to build a church on top of an inaccessible rock formation to have the same desire in your heart:
“I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18).