A monk named Maxime Qavtaradze lives atop a 40-meter limestone pillar in the Georgian Caucasus, where he spends his days accompanied by his books, thoughts and prayers.
The Katskhi Pillar is a natural monolith with a long history. Qavtaradze has lived on top of the pillar in a small cottage since 1993. It wasn't until 1944 that the pillar was ascended for the first time in centuries. Until the 15th century, the Katskhi Pillar was used by stylites, a group of Christians who sought to avoid temptation by living in isolation.
A ruined church atop the pillar has since been rebuilt. Qavtaradze said he originally slept in an old refrigerator. He now has a bed. Local residents get Qavtaradze food and supplies using a chain winch. When he wants to come down to meet with followers, he must descend on a 130-foot ladder. Qavtaradze told a photographer from Rex Features that before he was a monk, he was a prisoner. While incarcerated, he made the decision to change his life.
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