Monday, April 23, 2012
Commemoration of St. George the Trophy Bearer
Today, on April 23, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates St. George the Trophy Bearer, one of the great martyrs of Christ's Church on earth.
To get an idea of how popular this saint is, there is an old joke among Orthodox Christians that if a job needs to be done, "Let George do it" since so many of the men are given this name as their Baptismal name. His popularity is not just found in traditional Orthodox countries, but also in Western Europe. In a knighting ceremony, the formula "In the name of God and St. Michael and St. George" was commonplace. The last time I was in Germany, there was no shortage of towns I went to which had a statue of St. George even in the most die hard Protestant areas of the country. As a patron saint of the military, his image and his story is hard to just simply wipe away.
From the Prologue of Ohrid: This glorious and victorious saint was born in Cappadocia the son of wealthy and virtuous parents. His father suffered for Christ and his mother then moved to Palestine. When George grew up, he entered the military, where in his twentieth year, attained the rank of a Tribune and as such was in the service of the Emperor Diocletian. When Diocletian began the terrible persecution against Christians, George came before him and courageously confessed that he is a Christian. The emperor had him thrown into prison and ordered that his feet be placed in a stockade of wooden hobbles and that a heavy stone be placed on his chest. After that, the emperor commanded that George be tied to a wheel under which was a board with large nails and he was to be rotated until his entire body became as one bloody wound. After that, they buried him in a pit with only his head showing above the ground and there they left him for three days and three nights. Then George was given a deadly poison to drink by some magician. But, through all of these sufferings, George continuously prayed to God and God healed him instantly and saved him from death to the great astonishment of the people. When he resurrected a dead man through his prayer, many then accepted the Faith of Christ. Among these also was Alexandra, the wife of the Emperor Athanasius, the chief pagan priest and the farmers: Glycerius, Valerius, Donatus and Therinus. Finally the emperor ordered George and his wife Alexandra beheaded. Blessed Alexandra died on the scaffold before being beheaded. St. George was beheaded in the year 303 A.D. The miracles which have occurred over the grave of St. George are without number. Numerous are his appearances, either in dreams or openly, to those who have invoked him and implored his help from that time until today. Enflamed with love for Christ the Lord, it was not difficult for this saintly George to leave all for the sake of this love: rank, wealth, imperial honor, his friends and the entire world. For this love, the Lord rewarded him with the wealth of unfading glory in heaven and on earth and eternal life in His kingdom. In addition, the Lord bestowed upon him the power and authority to assist all those in miseries and difficulties who honor him and call upon his name.
Through the prayers of Thy Martyr, George, O Christ our True God, risen from the dead, have mercy upon us and save us!