On the 23rd of the month., we celebrate the Memory
of the Holy and Glorious Great Martyr GEORGE the
Trophy-BEARER, and of his companions ANATOLIUS,
PROTOLEON, ATHANASIUS and GLYCERIUS
This great and wonderful athlete of Christ’s was the son of a
wealthy and high-ranking Cappadocian family. George,
having lost his father at the age of ten, his mother Polychronia,
who had become a Christian without her husband’s
knowledge, retired to Palestine, her homeland and brought up
her son in the evangelical virtues. Handsome, intelligent and refined
in manner, George embarked on a military career at the age
of eighteen. He pleased his superiors and was quickly promoted
to the rank of tribune in the imperial guard, and then, it would
appear, to that of prefect.
Returning to Cappadocia after a victorious campaign and passing
through the region of Attalia in Pamphylia, he freed the king’s
daughter; who had been left at the mercy of a dangerous dragon,
and killed the beast with a divine strength that he was given by his faith. Marvelling at this demonstration of the strength given by Christ to His faithful ones against the forces of evil, the local pagans were all converted to Christianity.
At the time of the Great Persecution unleashed by Diocletian
(c. 304), when the Emperor had summoned all the Eastern governors
to Nicomedia to make them privy to his decrees against the
Cllristians, Saint George, sensing that the moment had come for
him to make public confession of Christ, gave all his goods away
to the poor, freed his slaves and went to the court. He appeared in
the midst of the assembly and reproached the sovereign for unjustly
shedding the innocent blood of Christians. Diocletian, dumbfounded
ordered his second-in-command Magnentius to interrogate this insolent young man about his faith. George replied that it was because he believed in Christ the true God that he had come without fear to reproach them. Having recovered from his
amazement, the Emperor, fearing a tumult among those present, offered to heap honors on the Saint on condition that he sacrifice to the gods of the Empire. George replied: ‘Your reign will become corrupt and will quickly disappear at no gain to you; but
those who offer a sacrifice of praise to the King of Heaven will reign with Him for all eternity!’ At tile sovereign’s orders, the guards beat the Saint on the stomach with their lances. His blood flowed down but, at the first blows, their weapons became twisted
as though they were made of some soft material. Christ’s soldier was thrown into prison with a heavy stone on his breast.
The next day, he appeared once more before the tyrant and showed the same firmness. They therefore tied him to a wheel suspended over sharp instruments, so that, when the wheel was turned, the Saint’s body would gradually be cut to pieces. Overcoming
the pain with his overflowing love for God, Saint George unceasingly gave thanks to God. A voice was then heard from heaven, saying: ‘Fear nothing, George; I am with you!’ And a white-clad angel more resplendent than the sun descended to loose him
and heal his wounds.
When he appeared safe and sound before the Emperor, two officers of the guard, Anatolius and Protoleon, confessed Christ with loud voices. They were beheaded at once. The Empress Alexandra (21 April) also declared herself to be a Christian, but Magnentius
constrained her to withdraw to the palace. They then threw the Saint into a ditch filled with quicklime; but, like the Three Young Men in the Babylonian furnace, he emerged unharmed after three days, greeted by the crowd with the cry: ‘Great is George’s God!’.
The Emperor, still remaining insensible before all these demonstrations of Christ’s power, ordered that the martyr be forced to walk in shoes studded with red-hot nails. ‘Run, George, towards the object of your desire!’ said the Saint, invoking the Lord’s help.
And once again he presented himself, whole and radiant with grace, before the tyrant.
By the grace of God, he also escaped a poison prepared by a sorcerer called Athanasius. When the latter of those of his sort were still incredulous and reckoned that George was using magical arts, he, at their request, raised a dead man who had been buried for three hundred years. The man prostrated before the Saint and, declaring that he had been wrested from hell at George’s prayers, he confessed Christ. The defeated sorcerer
then fell at the feet of the servant of God and, in his turn, proclaimed the true Faith. Incandescent with rage, Diocletian ordered that Athanasius and the resurrected man be beheaded without delay.
Not a few of those who had come to believe in Christ as a result of Saint George’s miracles found the means to visit him in prison, in order to be instructed in the truths of the Gospel or to receive the healing of their ills. The Saint had compassion on the
sufferings of each of them, and even restored to life a bull belonging to a peasant called Glycerius, who was then arrested and beheaded without any sort of trial. The next day, Diocletian had George appear in the Temple of Apollo before a fairly large crowd. Pretending that he intended to offer sacrifice, the Martyr went into the temple and confronted the idol, making the sign of the Cross. The demons that lived in the idol then confessed in terror that Christ alone is the true God, and they escaped with a great display, leaving the inert statues to fall to the ground. The priests and the pagans then drove the Saint out with loud cries and took him back to the palace. Attracted by
the tumult, Empress Alexandra came out and forced her way through the crowd, crying out: ‘God of George, come to my aid” and she fell at the Saint’s feet. Unable any longer to contain his fury, the tyrant, whose heart was hardened as Pharaoh’s had been
of old, ordered that they both be beheaded. Shortly before the execution, the empress Alexandra peacefully gave her soul into God’s hands in prison.
When the day arrived, Saint George went to the place of execution followed by a large
crowd. He gave thanks to God for His benefits and, begging His help for all those who with trust would invoke his intercession throughout the centuries, bent his neck under the sword and went to carry off the trophies of eternal glory.
Carrying out the Saint’s desire, his servant took his precious relics back to his home in Lydda (Diospolis) in Palestine, where inumerable miracles were worked in
the great church that was built in his honour.
The veneration of Saint George enjoys enormous popularity throughout the Christian world, both East and West. He was chosen to be the protector of countries like Georgia and England: thousands of churches have been dedicated to him and every Christian soul sees in him the incarnation of the virtues of valour, patience in affliction and trust in the help of grace that Christ, the Leader in battle, has enjoined on all tile soldiers enrolled in His army of devotion.
Source: The SYNAXARION, The Lives of the Saints of the
Orthodox Church By HIEROMONK MAKARIOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Translated from the French by Mother Maria (Rule)
and Mother Joanna (Burton)
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady
Ormylia (Chalkidike) 2003