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Holy Great-Martyr George,
the Victory-Bearer
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Father Valeriy
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St. George - patron
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The life of the Saint      
Icon: Holy Great-Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer. Holy Great-Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer

       Holy Great-Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father accepted a martyr's death for Christ, when George was still a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, resettled there with her son and raised him in strict piety.
       Having grown up, Saint George joined the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and was admitted into the imperial guards with a high military officer rank-title.

       The pagan emperor, while having done much for the restoration of the Roman might, and who was quite clearly concerned, as to what sort of danger the triumphing of the Crucified Saviour might present for pagan civilization, in especially the final years of his reign intensified his persecution against Christians. Upon the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian granted all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings over Christians and in this he promised them all possible help.

       Saint George, having learned about the decision of the emperor, handed out all his wealth to the poor, set his servants free, and then appeared in the Senate.
       The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor's designs, he confessed himself a Christian and appealed to all to acknowledge the true faith in Christ: "I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting on Him, I have come amidst ye at mine own will, to witness the Truth." "What is Truth?" - one of the dignitaries said, repeating the question of Pontius Pilate. "Truth is Christ Himself, persecuted by you" - answered the saint.

       Stunned by the bold speech of the valiant warrior, the emperor - who loved and had promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honors, but rather to make a sacrifice to the gods by the Roman custom.
       This was followed by a resolute reply of the confessor: "Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolution to serve God."
Icon: Holy Great-Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer.

       Then by order of the enraged emperor the armed-guards began to jostle Saint George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then took him to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it would bent, just as the spears touched the body of the saint, and it hurt him not. In prison they put the feet of the martyr in stocks and placed an heavy stone on his chest.
       At an interrogation on the next day, powerless but firm in spirit, Saint George again answered to the emperor: "Torturing me will exhaust you sooner then I will get exhausted with the tortures."

       Then Diocletian gave orders to subject Saint George to some very intense tortures. They tied the Great-Martyr to a wheel, beneath which they set up boards with sharp pieces of iron inset. With a turning of the wheel the sharp edges tore the bared body of the Saint. At first he suffered and cried out to the Lord loudly, but soon he quieted, not letting out even a single groan. Diocletian decided that the tortured one was already dead, and he gave orders to remove the battered body from the wheel, and then set off to the pagan temple to make a thank-offering. But at that very moment it got dark all over, thunders rolled, and a voice was heard: "Fear not, George, for I am with you."

       Then a wondrous light shone, and an Angel of the Lord appeared at the wheel in the form of a radiant youth. And just as he laid his hand upon the martyr, saying to him: "Rejoice!" - Saint George stood up healed. And when the soldiers led him off to the pagan temple where the emperor was, the latter could not believe his own eyes and thought, that some other man or even a ghost was in front of him. In confusion and terror the pagans looked Saint George over carefully, and convinced themselves, that indeed had a miracle occurred.

       Many thereupon came to believe in the Life-Creating God of the Christians. Two illustrious officials, Saints Anatolios and Protoleon - secretly Christians - therewith openly confessed Christ. And right away, without a trial, by order of the emperor they were beheaded with the sword. Among others present in the pagan temple was the Empress Alexandra, the wife of Diocletian, and she too knew the truth. She was on the point of glorifying Christ, but one of the servants of the emperor took her and led her off to the palace.

       The emperor became even more furious. He had not lost the hope to overcome Saint George and gave him up to new quite fierce torments. They threw him down in a deep pit and covered it with lime-stone. Three days later they dug him out, but found him cheerful and unharmed. They shod the Saint in iron sandals with red-hot nails, and they drove him with blows back to the prison.
       In the morning as they took him back to interrogation, cheerful and with healthy feet, he said to the emperor, that the sandals fit him. Then they beat him with ox-thongs so much, that his body and blood became mingled with the ground, but the brave sufferer, strengthened by the power of God, remained unyielding.

       Having decided, that sorcery was helping the Saint, the emperor summoned the sorcerer Athanasias, so that he would try to deprive the Saint of his miraculous powers, or to poison him. The sorcerer gave Saint George two goblets with poisonous ingredients, the one of which was supposed to quite him, and the other - to kill him. But the drugs did not work either - and the Saint continued to denounce the pagan superstitions and glorify the True God as he did before.
       When emperor asked the Saint what sort of power it was that helped him, Saint George answered: "Think not, that the torments do me no harm thanks to human powers - I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoso believeth on Him hath no regard for tortures and is able to do the deeds, that Christ did" (Jn 14:12). Diocletian asked, what sort of deeds Christ did. - "To give sight to the blind, to cleanse the leprous, to enable the lame to walk, the deaf - to hear, to cast out devils, and to raise up the dead."

       The emperor knew that never had they been able to resurrect the dead neither with sorcery nor with any known to him; thus wanting to test the Saint the emperor commanded him to raise up a dead person right in front of his eyes. To this the Saint replied: "Thou wouldst tempt me, but for the salvation of the people which shalt see the deed of Christ, my God wilt work this sign."
       And when they led Saint George down to the graveyard, he cried out: "O Lord! Show to those here present, that Thou art the One - Only God throughout the entire world, let them know Thee as the Almighty Lord." And the earth did quake, a grave opened up, the dead came alive and emerged from it. Having witnessed the Almighty Power of Christ, the people wept and glorified the True God. The sorcerer Athanasias, falling down at the feet of Saint George, confessed Christ as the All-Powerful God and besought forgiveness of his sins, committed in ignorance.

       The obdurate emperor in his impiety thought otherwise: in a rage he commanded to behead both the new-believer Athanasias and likewise the resuscitated, and he had Saint George locked up in prison again. The people, burdened with their infirmities, began in various ways to get into the prison and they received there healings and help from the Saint. A certain farmer named Glycerios whose ox had collapsed also resorted to him. The Saint consoled him with a smile and assured him, that God would bring his ox back to life. Seeing the ox alive at home, the farmer started to glorify the God of the Christians throughout the entire city. By order of the emperor, Saint Glycerios was arrested and beheaded.

       Exploits and miracles of the Great-Martyr George had increased the number of Christians, and therefore Diocletian decided to make a final attempt to compel the Saint to make sacrifice to idols. They began to set up a court at the pagan temple of Apollo. On the last night the Holy Martyr prayed fervently, and when he dozed off, he beheld the Lord Himself, Who raised him up with His hand, and hugged him in giving him a kiss of greeting. The Saviour placed a crown on the head of the Great-Martyr and said: "Fear not, but rather make bold and be vouchsafed My Kingdom."

       In the morning at the court the emperor offered Saint George a new test - he proposed him to become his co-emperor. The holy martyr with a feigned willingness answered, that from the very beginning the emperor had seemed inclined not to torture him but rather to show mercy, and with this he expressed the wish to go forthwith into the pagan temple of Apollo. Diocletian decided, that the martyr was accepting his offer, and he followed after him into the pagan temple with his retinue and the people. Everyone was waiting, whether Saint George would make sacrifice to gods. He, however, made the sign of the Cross approaching an idol and turned towards it, as though it were alive: "You wishest to receive from me sacrifice befitting God?" The demon inhabiting the idol cried out: "I am not God and none of those like me are God. The One-Only God is He Whom thou preachest. We are of those servant-angels of His, which became apostate, and in the grips of jealousy we do tempt people." "How dare ye to be here, when hither have come I, the servant of the True God?" - asked the saint. Then was heard a crash and wailing, and the idols fell down and were shattered.

       There began a general confusion. Pagan-priests and many of the throng pounced upon the holy martyr in a frenzy, they tied him up and began to beat him and demand his immediate execution.
       Into the noise and the shouts rushed the holy empress Alexandra. Pushing her way through the crowd, she cried out: "Thou God of George, help me, in as Thou Alone art All-Powerful." At the feet of the Great-Martyr the holy empress glorified Christ, Who had humiliated the idols and those worshipping them.

       Diocletian in a rage immediately pronounced the death sentence against the Great-Martyr George and the holy Empress Alexandra, who without being accompanied, followed Saint George to execution. Along the way she collapsed and slumped senseless against a wall. Everyone thought, that the empress was dead. Saint George offered up thanks to God and he prayed, that he should end his path worthily. At the place of execution the saint in heated prayer besought the Lord, that He would forgive the torturers of those who knew not what they did, and that He would lead them to the knowledge of Truth. Calmly and bravely, the holy Great-Martyr George bent his neck beneath the sword. This occurred on April 23, 305. Icon: Holy Great-Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer.
       In confusion the executioners and the judges catch glimpse of their Conqueror. In a bloody agony and mindless thrashing about ended the era of paganism. It lasted for all of ten years more - up until the time of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine, who was one of the successors to Diocletian upon the Roman throne, and who gave orders to imprint the Cross on his military- banners, as a testament also sealed by the blood of the Great-Martyr George and thousands of other unknown martyrs: "By this sign thou wilt conquer."

       Of many miracles, worked by the holy Great-Martyr George, the most famous are depicted in iconography. There were many idol-worshippers in the native land of the saint - at the city of Beirut. Outside the city, near Mount Lebanon, there was a large lake, in which lived an enormous dragon-like serpent. Coming out of the lake, it devoured people, and there was nothing people could do as it infected air with one of its nostrils.

       On the advice of the demons inhabiting the idols, the ruler there made a decision: each day people would draw lots to give over their own children as food, and when his turn would come, he promised to hand over his only daughter. That time did come, so the ruler dressed his daughter in her finest attire and sent her off to the lake. The girl wailed bitterly, awaiting the moment of death. Unexpectedly the Great-Martyr George rode up on his horse with a spear in his hand.

       The girl implored him not to leave her, lest she would perish. But the saint, having caught sight of the serpent, made the Sign of the Cross and with the words "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," he rushed off after it. The Great-Martyr George pierced the throat of the serpent with his spear and trampled it with his horse. Then he bid the girl to bind the serpent with her sash, and like a dog, lead it into the city. The people fled in terror, but the Saint halted them with the words: "Be not afraid, but rather trust on the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in Him, since it be He Who hath sent me to you, to save you." Then the Saint killed the serpent with a sword, and the people burned it outside the city. Twenty-five thousand men, not counting women and children, were then baptized, and there was later built a church in the name of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Great-Martyr George.

       Saint George became a talented military officer and continued to amaze the world by with his military exploits. He died, when he was not even 30 years old. Hastening to unite with the Heavenly army, he entered into the history of the Church as the Victory-Bearer ["Pobedonosets"]. With this title he was glorified in early Christianity and Holy Rus'.
       Saint George, the Victory-Bearer was the patron Saint and protector of several of the great builders of the Russian state and Russian military. The son of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir, Yaroslav the Wise - in holy Baptism Georgii (+ 1054), much advanced the veneration of the Saint in the Russian Church. He built the city of Yur'ev [i.e., "of Yurii" - "Yurii" being the diminutive of "Georgii", as "Ivan" is to "Ioann" (John)], he founded likewise the Yur'ev monastery at Novgorod, and he erected the Church of Saint George, the Victory-Bearer in Kiev. The day of the consecration of the Kiev Georgiev temple, which took place on November 26, 1051 by Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev and Russia', entered forever into the liturgical treasury of the Church as a special churchly feastday - Yur'ev Day, beloved by the Russian people as an "Autumn Saint George's Day".

       The name of Saint George was indeed also borne by the founder of Moscow - Yurii Dolgoruky (+1157), who was the builder of many churches of Saint George, and the builder of the city of Yur'ev-Pol'sk. In the year 1238 the heroic fight of the Russian nation against the Mongol Horde was headed by the Vladimir Great Prince Yurii (Georgii) Vsevolodovich (+1238, commemorated 4 February), who fell into eternal rest in the Battle at Sita River. His memory, just like that of Egor [Igor] the Brave, and defender of his native-land, was reflected in Russian spiritual versification and ballads. The first great-prince of Moscow, in the period when Moscow became the center of the Russian Land unification, was Yurii Danilovich (+1325) - son of Saint Daniel of Moscow, and grandson of Saint Alexander Nevsky. From that time Saint George, the Victory-Bearer - a horseman, smiting the serpent - became the coat of arms of Moscow and the emblem of the Russian state. And this has strengthened the connections with Christian peoples more deeply and especially with the same-believing Iveria (Gruzia, or Georgia - the Land of Saint George).

The English translation of the life of
the Saint George is taken from the website
“Feasts and Saints of the Orthodox Church”

As being the liberator of captives and the protector of beggars, /
the doctor for feeblers and the defeater of emperors, / Great-Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer, /
pray to Christ, our God, that He may save our souls!
The icons are taken from the website "Orthodox calendar"