Following the children's gaze it's not surprising to find the giant, sandstone cupola of Georgia's most important church the cathedral of Sveti Tskhoveli, church of the Life-Giving Pillar. Standing at the apex of land between both rivers it occupies the site of a former Zoroastrian temple, the place where St. Nino brought Christianity to Georgia, celebrating the fact by weaving a cross of vine branches with strands of her own hair. The knot slipped and formed the now famous sloping armed cross, today's emblem of Georgian Orthodoxy. Taking a closer look I notice this is the cross the child now holds.
Half an hour later we step through the cathedral gate guarded by pagan bull heads, and into the echoing, dark interior. Lit by burning candles and slim shafts of blue daylight, slowly the eyes accustom to a gentle gray illumination that seems to spread out like a carpet under the 11th century dome. The chamber carries a calming atmosphere, as all around the colored faces and images of Georgian frescos climb the walls from their many different centuries. Worshipers move quietly from icon to icon, lighting candles, praying, considering; a small choir briefly bursts into life, until the participants melt away into the cavernous stone chamber.