A few years ago, I bought from a second-hand bookstore the edition of the Georgian version of St. Antony’s letters. The book was published in 1955 by Gérard Garitte in the Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium (CSCO) collection and appeared in two separate volumes (G. Garitte, Lettres de S. Antoine. Version géorgienne et fragments coptes [CSCO, 148 & 149. Scriptores iberici, 5 & 6; Louvain: Imprimerie orientaliste L. Durbecq, 1955]). The first volume contains the critical edition of the Georgian text together with the surviving Coptic fragments. The second volume offers their translation into Latin.
When I first opened the book, I was surprised to discover on the front page of the first volume a dedication in Georgian written by Gérard Garitte himself:
ფრ. პატივ. მამას მ.თარხნიშვილს პატივისცემით და მადლობით ავტორისაგან ლოვანია, 1955წ.
To dearest father M. Tarkhnishvili, with respect and gratitude from the author. Louvain, 1955.
Both volumes are still marked in several places with the stamp of their former owner, “P. Michele Tarchnišvili.”
For those who do not know, it was M. Tarkhnishvili (1897-1958) who made known to Western scholars the treasures of Georgian literature, especially through his magnum opus Geschichte der kirchlichen georgischen Literatur (Vatican 1955). If you want to read more about this brilliant scholar, you can find some information HERE. Gérard Garitte (1914-1992) was Tarkhnishvili’s disciple and taught at the Catholic University in Louvain.
Dr. Buba Kudava, who helped me to read Garitte’s dedication, told me that there is little material related to Father Tarkhnishvili in Georgia. This is largely due to the fact that he never returned to his native country after 1919, spending most of his life in the Vatican, as a scholar and Catholic priest. In 1921, Georgia was attacked by the Soviet army and a few years later, in 1924, it became part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. The reasons why Tarkhnishvili was stuck in the West are thus obvious.
This being the case, I decided to offer the book to the National Centre of Manuscripts in Tbilisi (director: Buba Kudava), an institution which is doing an excellent job in preserving the Christian heritage of Georgia. This is just a small sign of my esteem for a scholar who had done so much for our knowledge of Eastern Christianity.