Saint George was born about the year 1819 in Tzourchli, a village in the diocese of Gravena in Epirus. His parents were poor and, after their death, he was employed
as a stable boy by an Ottoman official. Even though he remained firmly attached
to the Christian faith, his Turkish fellow-servants took to calling him Ghiaour Hassan-a
Muslim name. Eight years later, he was getting ready to marry a poor Christian
girl called Helen, when one of the Turks brought a complaint against him before
the local cadi (judge) to the effect that Hassan being a Muslim, “vas preparing to marry a Christian.
After much commotion, George, who was reserved and taciturn by nature, managed to convince him that he was a Christian born and bred. He got married, and entered the service of another Ottoman dignitary in the town of Piliates. On 12 January 1838, the very day of his son’s birth, he returned to Ioannina to attend to some business.
He was again laid hold of by his former accuser and an excited crowd gathered around them. On being brought before the cadi, George insisted that he had always been a Christian and had never denied the faith of his fathers: the urging and clamour of the
Turks could not move him. He was thrown into prison and the other captive Christians there stirred up in his soul the desire to pursue his contest even to the perfection of martyrdom. A shining figure appeared to him, eased the weight of his fetters and inspired him with such superhuman courage that he received the death sentence with indescribable joy on the morning of 17 January. As the thirsty hart hastens to the spring of living waters (Ps. 41:1), he all but ran with his executioners to the gallows. There he
was hanged, and his body was left for three days for all to gaze at. It exhaled a fragrant scent and the guards themselves could see the heavenly light surrounding it. The holy relic was delivered at last to Metropolitan Joachim, who gathered all the Christians of
Ioannina for the funeral of Christ’s New Martyr. Many miracles took place during that solemn service, and they continued to occur by means of the relics of the Saint.
The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox ·Church
By HIEROMONK MAKARIOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Translatedfrom the French by Christopher Hookway
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady
This icon of the martyr Saint George is notable because it was completed just 13 days after the death of the saint, commissioned by his own spiritual father. This is quite significant as the icon provides an intimate depiction of a man rendered by those who knew and loved him. He had a young bride and a newborn son, yet the joy of these things did not distract him from the true and unending joy of his love for Christ. Surely the Saint remembered the words of our Lord as he eagerly processed to his martyrdom:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37