Saturday, April 23, 2011

St. George the Great Martyr

The life of St. George is a prime example of the life that each Christian should follow to obtain salvation. St. George the Great-martyr, was raised a Christian. His father was martyred for the faith. After his father's death, his mother took him to Palestine, where she had farm land. At a young age, he served in the Roman army under Emperor Diocletian and was commended many times for his service to the Empire. From the rule of the Emperor Decian until 284 A.D., when Diocletian became emperor, the Church went through a period of peace and prosperity. Christians obtained important positions in the government during that time; many built churches and schools and organized the authoritative structure of the Church. Diocletian gave many of his loyal officers political positions so that he could have the military strength of his Empire on his side. After Diocletian had suppressed the barbarian tribes which were attacking the Empire and after he had secured its borders, he began to concentrate on the Empire's internal affairs. Diocletian believed that a state religion could keep the empire united. Since paganism was the state religion, Diocletian focused his efforts toward the suppression of Christianity. In the year 303 A.D., Diocletian summoned his aides to meet in the city of Caesarea. He held three general meetings with his aides, instructing them to persecute the Christians. Since St. George had shown his excellence while serving in the army, he was among these aides. Diocletian asked them to pledge their allegiance to this cause by making pagan sacrifices as proof of their loyalty. All the aides pledged their loyalty except St. George. He stood in front of Diocletain and admitted his belief in Christianity, telling the monarch of the Christian teachings and the Godliness of the crucified Nazarene. The emperor ordered this Christian be taken to prison and that a boulder be placed on his chest as a form of torture. The next morning Diocletian ordered that the prisoner be brought before him for questioning. George stood steadfast and told Diocletian of his belief in the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven. The emperor then summoned the executioners to take the saint and have him bound to the rim of a wheel set with sharp spikes. Before being taken away, Diocletian asked him to sacrifice to the gods to save himself. He refused Diocletian's request and welcomed the chance to be a martyr for Christ, as his father had done. After praying to God, he heard a voice from heaven say, "Do not fear, George, I am with you." With the help of Christ, the spiked wheel had no effect on St. George. When the saint appeared again before Diocletian not only was he unharmed, but an angelic aura had settled about him. Suddenly, two officers of the Roman army, Anatolios and Protoeon, appeared before Diocletian with two thousand soldiers. They admitted their belief in Christ and Diocletian had them all executed.

In the above icon, George battles the devil, symbolized by the dragon, and saves the Holy Church. He rides a white horse that indicates God's grace carrying him to the heroism of martyrdom. Constantine the Great built a great church over his tomb in Lyda of Palestine. The name George means “Tiller of the Earth.”

Troparion of St. George (Tone 4)
As the deliverer of captives and defender of the poor, healer of the infirm and champion of Kings, victorious great martyr George, intercede with Christ our God for our souls' salvation

No comments:

Post a Comment