Almighty God, who gave to your servant George boldness to confess the name of our savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
St. George, Our Patron
St. George is the patron saint of our parish. His feast day is celebrated on April 23rd. While St. George is popularly identified with the ideals of honor, bravery, and gallantry, very little, if anything, is actually known about the real St. George. Pope Gelasius said that St. George is one of the saints “whose names are rightly reverenced among us, but whose actions are known only to God.”The story of St. George is so wrapped in myth and legend that it remains difficult to extract the historical facts of a real life. What is believed to be the truth is that George was born in Cappadocia, an area of present day Turkey, in the 3rd century, that his parents were Christians, and that, when his father died, George’s mother returned to her native Palestine, taking George with her. George became a soldier in the Roman army and rose to the rank of tribune.
Persecution of Christians
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 Roman gods of the time. However 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, Gerontius. 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 Roman gods. The emperor made many offers, but George never accepted.
Torture and Martyrdom
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 in Palestine for burial, where Christians soon came to honor him as a martyr. It’s said that Diocletian’s wife was so impressed by George’s resilience that she became a Christian and that she too was executed for her faith.