Saturday, September 5, 2009
St.George the great martyr
The martyrdom of Saint George, by Paolo Veronese, 1564.It is likely that Saint George was born to a Christian noble family in Nicomedia, during the late third century between about 275 AD and 285 AD, and he died in Lydda, Palestine.His father, Geronzio (Latin Gerontius), was a Roman army official from Cappadocia and his mother was from Palestine. They were both Christians and from noble families of Anici, so by this the child was raised with Christian beliefs. They decided to call him George, meaning "worker of the land". At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother, Policronia (Polychronia), died. Eastern accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and Theobaste.
Then George decided to go to Nicomedeia, the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father, Geronzio—one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedeia.
In the year AD 302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. But George objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best Tribune and the son of his best official, Geronzio. George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted.
Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.