Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, Journey to Europe, Rome, Geografic places, the holy places


On August 17, 1713, Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani left Gori with Jean Richard
to go on a diplomatic mission to Europe. They arrived in Kutaisi, where they stayed for 40 days with the Catholicos-Patriarch of Western Georgia Grigol II Lortkipanidze. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani introduced the purpose and tasks of his embassy to the Catholicos-Patriarch of Western Georgia Grigol II and his assistant Davit Beri, who accompanied Saba on his trip to Europe at the initiative of Patriarch Grigol II. He is called "David Megreli" in French sources. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani kept his embassy a secret. It is known that Catholicos Gregory shared the plans of Vakhtang VI and Sulkhan-Saba in matters of domestic and foreign policy of Georgia. According to the sources,
Catholicos Gregory, through Jean Richard, asked the King of France, Louis
XIV, to send French missionaries to Western Georgia, which David was
supposed to bring from Paris. Davit Megreli's personal qualities and abilities should have been the basis for the decision to bring him to Saba during his ambassadorship. This step had two meanings: 1. It was necessary to strengthen the attitude of the French rulers and the Pope of Rome in the matter of settling the Catholic missionaries in Western Georgia and creating an arena for them.
2. This diplomatic method, involving Western Georgia and taking care of the arrival of Catholic missionaries to Georgia, would allow Saba to appear before Louis XIV and the Pope as the ambassador not only of the Kingdom of Kartli, but of the whole of Georgia, thus increasing the authority of Vakhtang VI and It seemed that not only the Kingdom of Kartli, but also Western Georgia was trying to establish relations with France.
At that time, France was considered the protector of the Catholic
missionaries working in the East and provided great financial support to the foreign mission society. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani specially developed the goals of his embassy in France and Rome, first in Kartli, then in Western Georgia, and presented himself to the political leaders of the Catholic world. Saba spent a little more than two years in Europe and expressed his impressions in a magnificent work of travel-memoir character and documentary prose "Journey to Europe", which contains important information about the geographical space of France and Italy, their holy places, sanctuaries and sights preserved there. The work is of special importance for introducing the scientific geography and history of these countries as seen and perceived by the eyes of a foreigner. A special value is due to the fact that Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani sometimes compared the places and sights he visited with the nature and historical monuments of his homeland.