Saturday, 9 April 2011

Saint George

We celebrate the name days of a number of Georges on April 23rd. But since Pascha this year also falls on April 23rd, the Divine Liturgy for Saint George is celebrated on the 25th.
According to Tradition, George was born to a Christian
family during the late 3rd century. His father was from
Cappadocia and served as an officer of the army. His
mother was from Lydda, Palestine. She returned to her
native city as a widow along with her young son after
the martyrdom of George's father, where she provided
him with a respectable education and raised him in
The youth, it would seem, followed his father's
example in joining the army soon after his coming of
age. He proved to be a charismatic soldier and
consequently rose quickly through the military ranks of
the time. By his late twenties he had gained the titles
of tribunus (tribune) and later comes (count). By that
time George had been stationed in Nicomedia as a
member of the personal guard attached to Roman
Emperor Diocletian (reign 284–305).
In 303, Diocletian issued an edict authorising the
systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire.
His caesar, Galerius, was supposedly responsible for
this decision and would continue the persecution
during his own reign (305–311). It is believed that
George was ordered to take part in the persecution
but instead confessed to being a Christian himself and
criticised the imperial decision. An enraged Diocletian
proceeded in ordering the torture of this apparent traitor and his execution.
Then, after innumerable forms of torture, George was executed by decapitation in front of Nicomedia's defensive wall on April 23, 303. The witness of his suffering convinced Monthly Newsletter of St. Michael’s Orthodox
Church Audley, Staffordshire ~ April 2011
Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to also become Christians, and so they also joined George in martyrdom as consequence. George's body was then returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour George as a martyr.
And what about the dragon? St. George is often depicted with a dragon or
some other serpentine creature under his feet. This comes from a legend whose details may vary according to local tradition. The tale begins with a
dragon making its nest at the spring (or lake) that provided a town (either near Beirut or Silena, Libya, often) with water. Consequently, the
citizens had to temporarily remove the dragon from its nest in order to collect water. To do so, they offered the dragon a daily human sacrifice.
The victim of the day was chosen by drawing lots. Eventually, the "winner" of this lottery happened to be the local princess. The local monarch is occasionally depicted begging for her life with no result. She is offered to the dragon, but at this point a travelling George arrives. He faces the dragon, and, after invoking the name of the Holy Trinity, slays it and saves the princess. The grateful citizens then abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.