Anthimus of Iberia

Anthim the Iberian (Romanian: Antim Ivireanul, Georgian: Antimoz Iverieli, secular name: Andria; 1650 — September or October 1716), great ecclesiastic figure of Wallachia, a noted Eastern Orthodox theologian and philosopher, Metropolitan of Bucharest in 1708-1715, linguist, typographer, and ecclesiastical writer.

He was an ethnic Georgian born in Caucasian Iberia (Iviria, Kartli, nowadays in the Republic of Georgia). Anthim was taken prisoner by Ottoman Empire troops, and took orders in Istanbul, while living on the compounds of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In 1689 or 1690, he was asked to settle in Wallachia by Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, and was given charge of the newly-founded princely printing press in Bucharest. Being appointed father superior (egumen) of the Snagov Monastery, Anthim moved the press to the new location. He became Bishop of Râmnic in 1705, and in 1708 Metropolitan of Wallachia. Anthim spoke and wrote many Oriental and European languages. Although a foreigner, he soon acquired a thorough knowledge of Romanian, and was instrumental in helping to introduce that language into the local church as its official language.

In 1693, he published the Gospels in Romanian. In 1709 Anthim was a founder of the first Georgian printing press in Tbilisi; he also trained Georgians in the art of printing, and cut the type with which under his pupil Mihail Ishtvanovitch they printed the first of Georgian Gospels (1710). In addition, Anthim published 25 other books - in Romanian, as well as Church Slavonic, Greek, and Arabic (usually in bilingual volumes, such as the Greek-Arabic Missal of 1702); this meant that he was also the first in Wallachia to use Arabic fonts).

His personal work, Didahii, was a collection of sermons meant as a sharp critique of contemporary habits and morals, a collection of moral exhortations containing historically important descriptions critical of the luxurious life of the Wallachian boyars (noblemen). The Didahii also is a unique source document on 17th-century Romanian social life; notably, beside Christian sources, Anthim made reference to classical philosophy. Alongside his literary output, the cleric was the builder of the All-Saints Monastery in Bucharest - nowadays known as the Antim Monastery in his memory.

As an advocate of Wallachian independence, Anthimus urged his ruler, Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, to assist the Russian tsar Peter I (the Great) in his unsuccessful campaign of 1711 against the Turks. Anthim's overt opposition to Ottoman tutelage over Wallachia made him an adversary of the Phanariote regime. The new ruling prince Nicholas Mavrocordatos imprisoned him, and subsequently exiled him to Mount Sinai. Anthim was captured by the Ottomans while he was taking the trip, and assassinated somewhere in modern-day Bulgaria (his body would have been discarded in the Maritsa or the Tundzha). It is alleged that his murder was ordered by Mavrocordatos himself.

In 1992 Anthim was canonized by the Romanian Orthodox Church. A rugby union trophy, contested by Romania and Georgia is named after him - the Antim Cup.