St. George’s life
St. George the Victory-bearer is one of the most respected Christian martyr-saints in both the Orthodox as well as the Catholic Church. His commemoration day is on April 23rd and is considered one of the most valiant saints of Christianity. He is widely known because of his legendary battle with the dragon.
According to historians, St. George was born somewhere between the years 275 and 285AD. He was born into an aristocratic family, in the town of Lod, Palestine, at a time when this land was Syrian. His earthly life ended on April 23, 303. His father, Gerontius, served in the Roman army in Cappadocia and his mother, Polychronia, was originally from Palestine. Both were Christian and thus, their son was raised and educated as a Christian.
When he was 14, St. George’s father died. After a few years, he was orphaned entirely, his mother also having passed unit the Lord. Alone in the world, he decided to go to Nicomedia, which was the seat of the emperor, and to ask Diocletian to allow him to join the Roman army. Remembering his father’s loyalty and bravery, the Emperor welcomed St. George into his ranks warmly. When he was nearing 30 years of age, St. George was promoted to the rank of tribune and appointed into the Emperor’s personal guard.
In the year 302AD, Diocletian gave an edict ordering all Roman soldiers to bring sacrifice to pagan gods worshiped at the time and, moreover, that all Christian soldiers were to be arrested. Indignant, St. George openly conveyed his disapproval, publicly announcing that he is Christian and he only venerates the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though this bothered him greatly, Diocletian did not wish to lose one of his worthies tribunes. He promised St. George lands, money, slaves, only if he would convert and worship the pagan gods. Because St. George refused, the Emperor was forced to sentence him to death. The Empress Alexandra, having witnessed countless miracles that occurred during St. George’s martyrdom and suffering, confessed Christ and died alongside the saint.
St. George accepted his fate calmly. He distributed his treasure among the poor. After numerous tortures, including lashings with animal welts and beatings with the lance, he was decapitated on April 23, 303. His body was sent for burial to his native town of Lod, where his villagers gave him a proper Christian martyr’s burial.
St. George’s Miracle
St. George is known to have made many miracles occur, either directly or through his icons. One such miracle took place in today’s Mitilene, a settlement in Greece. This little town has a church that bears St. George’s name; on the Saint’s feast day, pilgrims come from far away to worship and honor the Saint.
During the early days of Christian persecution, regional pagan authorities got word of this event and they surrounded the church, attacked the worshipers, and bound them and took them away to Crete. Among the ones to be taken away was a young man, who was eventually given as a gift to the ruler of the land.
This young man served his master for a year, and thus arriving at the feast day of St. George, one year later. The young man’s parents never lost faith of finding their son. Nor did they discard their tradition of honoring and feasting; they put their faith in God and St. George. Returning from church, his mother fell on her knees, crying and praying for the return of her son.
St. George did not overlook that woman’s fervent prayers. While she and her husband, the boy’s father, and a few others were sitting and eating, God allowed a great miracle to take place. While their son had cursed wine into a cup and was about to hand it to his master, the boy found himself in Mitilene, handing that same glass of wine to his mother. Seeing this, all asked him where he’s coming from and how can he be in their midst! To which he answered, “I have come from pouring this glass of wine to give to my master in Crete. I was taken up on a horse by a valiant man. Holding onto the glass with one hand and his was it with the other, I found myself here, in your midst.”
Hearing and seeing these things, everyone was awed, praising God and his great martyr saint, St. George.
St. George is known to be a saint who is quick to intercede.