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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center

St. GeorgeHoly Great-Martyr George the Triumphant

Holy Great-Martyr George the Triumphant was a Christian Roman Army leader, who showed great courage and converted many people. Holy Great-Martyr George the Triumphant is a soldier saint.


23 April - Holy Great-Martyr George the Triumphant was a Captain in the Roman Army. Many think that Holy Great-Martyr George was martyred under the order of the Emperor Diocletian. Many think that Holy Great-Martyr George was tortured and beheaded at Nicomedia (Nikomedia) in Asia Minor or at Lydda (Diospolis) in Palestine, about A.D.296.

3 November - Dedication of the Church of the Great-Martyr St George the Wonderworker at Lydda
Emperor Constantine the Great built a great church over Holy Great-Martyr George the Triumphant's tomb in Lydda, Palestine. His relics are enshrined in the church.


The name George means "Tiller of the Earth."

Shown in Ikons

In ikons, Holy Great-Martyr George is usually shown battling a dragon. The dragon is a symbol of the devil. In ikons, Holy Great-Martyr George battles the devil, symbolized by the dragon, and saves the Holy Church, symbolized by the king's daughter. Also, he rides a white horse that indicates God's grace carrying him to the heroism of martyrdom.

Two sources considered reliable

Ochrid Prologue:

The Holy and Great Martyr George.

This renowned and glorious martyr was born in Cappadocia, the son of rich and God-fearing parents. His father suffered for Christ, after which his mother moved to Palestine. When George grew up, he went into the army, in which he rose, by the age of twenty, to the rank of tribune, and as such was in service under the Emperor Diocletian. When this Emperor began a terrible persecution of Christians, George came before him and boldly confessed that he was a Christian. The Emperor threw him into prison, and commanded that his feet be put in the stocks and a heavy weight placed on his chest. After that, he commanded that he be bound on a wheel, under which was a board with great nails protruding, and thus be turned. He then had him buried in a pit with only his head above the ground, and left there for three days and nights. Then, through some magician, he gave him deadly poison, but in the face of all these tortures, George prayed unceasingly to God, and God healed him instantly and saved him from death, to the great amazement of the people. When he also raised a dead man to life by his prayers, many embraced the Christian faith. Among these was the Emperor's wife, Alexandra, and the chief pagan priest, Athanasius, the governor Glycerius and Valerius, Donatus and Therinus. Finally, the Emperor commanded that George and the Empress Alexandra be beheaded. Blessed Alexandra died on the scaffold before being killed, and St George was beheaded. This happened in the year 303. The miracles that have been performed at his grave are without number. Also are his appearances in dreams to those who, thinking on him, have sought his help, from that time up to the present day. Consumed by love for Christ, it was not difficult for holy George to leave all for this love - his status, wealth and imperial favour, his friends and the whole world. For this love, the Lord rewarded him with a wreath of unfading glory in heaven and on earth, and with eternal life in His Kingdom. The Lord further endowed him with the power to help in need and distress all who honour him and call on his name.

Another Source

Victor Hugo defined popularity as glory's small change, but in the case of the enormously popular St. George it is more a matter of being short changed, ironically enough, by those admirers over the years after his martyrdom who tried to outdo one another in their accounts of his heroism. There have been so many myths about this great soul that it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, all to the grievous detriment of this mighty saint. There is so much legend attached to his holy name that there are Christians who have in exasperation dismissed him as the product of some storyteller's imagination which somehow got into the record of saints and has been allowed to cling there out of sentiment, if nothing else.

It is a matter of accurate record, however, that St. George was an actual human being, and that he lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the third century and partially into the fourth. He was by far Syria's most noble saint, a Christian warrior who captured the imagination of so many Christians that he was overly venerated. Since everyone loves a brace military man to gegin with, if that glamorous soldier's image is enhanced by a strong Christian faith, then he is apt to be so blown up in legend as to explode into incredulity.

Before he became the "Victorious Great Martyr," St. George served in the legions of Rome, making a reputation for himself as a fearless officer and highly respected leader of men, thus laying the groundwork for a later adulation that was to cloud his holy spirit and proximity to God. The hero worshipers had a tendency to forget that his commitment to Jesus Christ, and not his heroic character, made him a venerated saint of the Christian Church. His biographers, of whom there have been many in the Church, have winced at some of the grossly exaggerated accounts of his exploits and have been forced to wade through a sea of fantasy before arriving at the shore of truth about him. But as someone said, there can be no real beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.

Legend piled up on legend over the years so that when the crusades were launched from England, the hero-loving crusaders returned from the Holy Land with some well magnified stories about St. George, whom they took to their bosoms with genuine admiration and affection. The ironic humor of G. K. Chesterton epitomized the skepticism in a poem which reads:
St. George he was from England,
And before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English ale
Out of a flagon.

The facts are that St. George was Syrian to the core, and resigned his commission in the Roman army rather than participate in any of the pagan rituals expected of the soldiers. He also resented the merciless persecution of the Christians, whose ranks he joined in a total commitment to Jesus Christ. The fight he put up for Christianity was to prove his undoing, and the terrible retribution on the part of the Tyrant Diocletian was all the more intense against the man whom he considered a traitor for having gone over to the side of decency.

There are many accounts of the manner in which St. George died for Christ, but it is certain that he was put through unspeakable tortures which he bravely endured before finally being beheaded in Nikomedia, a town in Asia Minor on an inlet to the Sea of Marmore. His courage gave heart to the many converts for which he was responsible and his defiant spirit lingered on to inspire the Christians to greater effort in behalf of the Savior, despit the great danger involved.

The Emperor Constantine, some years later, erected the Church of St. George in his memory, setting a precedent for the parade of churches which were to be erected in his memory in the years to come. St. George symbolizes the struggle against paganism and the never-ending combat between good and evil, one of the "Sons of Light" who wages an unending combat against the "Dragon of Darkness." In the roster of soldiers who have become Christian saints, the name of St. George leads all the rest.

Troparion (TONE 4)

O Great Among the Saints and Glorious Martyr George, since you are a deliverer of captives and a defender of the poor, a doctor for the sick and a noble attendant to kings: intercede with Christ God, that He may save our souls.

More information

Great Martyr St. George Saint Joseph Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts, Click on Feasts of Major Saints

St. George Catholic Encyclopedia

St. George David Woods, Dept. of Ancient Classics, University College Cork, Ireland


The Ain Bourdai Icon of St. George - The Man & Myth St. George Melkite (Byzantine) Greek Catholic Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great Martyr St. George Saint Joseph Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts, Click on Feasts of Major Saints

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