St George, The Prince of Martyrs
He was born in the year 280 AD in Cappadocia in Palestine, of noble, Christian, God-loving parents. His father Anastasious was a rich prince governing the province in God's fear. He took care of those who were in need. His mother's name was Theobesty. God gave them that saint after his two sisters, Kasieh and Madrouta. They raised him in a Christian upbringing, and he was nurtured on virtues and courage. His father died when he was 14 years old. Another prince took over all the cities of Palestine, and he was a righteous man. So his mother moved with her kids from Cappadocia to Diospolis, where she was originally from and where her possessions were.
St. George joined in the army. His reputation was spread out that the prince wanted him to marry his only daughter. And that's why he sent him first to the Emperor Diocletian accompanied by a hundred soldiers to show the Emperor his courage, and to have his name written in the annals of the kingdom. The Emperor gave him the title "Prince", and arranged for him 500 soldiers, and he generously gave him a lot of presents. Then St. George returned to his province; and the prince assigned to him his possessions after his departure. He did that in a party that he had for his daughter and St. George.
When St. George became 20 years old, his mother died. The prince also died while he was designing the celebrations for his daughter's wedding. And while St. George was thinking about that marriage matter, the Archangel Michael appeared to him and ordered him to go to the Emperor , who had issued his order of persecuting the Christians. The angel told him about what he'll receive of bitter torturing and that the Lord will save him from all of it and that he'll become the prince of martyrs and he promised him that he would be with him through his hardships.
His defense of his faith and the beginning of his torture
The saint arrived to Nicomedia in Asia Minor and he found an announcement of the Emperor Diocletian, which declares the persecution of Christians if they refuse to worship the idols. So St. George tore it apart and he distributed all his fortune to the poor and let his servants go.
When they brought him in front of the Emperor and 70 of his governors, he attacked the Emperor 's idol-worship, declaring his Christian faith without fear. And he refused all the Emperor 's temptations with all courage not caring about his threats.
The Emperor gave his orders to torture St. George. So they squeezed him with the Himbazeen, they pierced his body, broke his bones, and then they nailed him to a wood board where the people could see him. Then they rubbed his blood with rough fibers soaked in vinegar and salt, and finally they threw him in jail till morning. At midnight, a great light appeared and lit the whole jail and the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him surrounded by thousands of angels and He ordered him to rise healed saying: "Arise, O George healed for I am with you in every time and every moment so that you may expose those lying non-believers. I swear by myself as there wasn't among the women's babies one who was greater than John the Baptist, also there hasn’t been among the martyrs someone who is like you." And then the Saint arose healed standing happily and praising.
That situation, and St. George's speech, got the Emperor and those who were with him angry to the extent that he ordered that they hang St. George among four stands and hit him four hundred floggings on his back and the same on his abdomen. St. George's skin tore and he bled. Then, they sprayed on his torn body lime, and poured on it sulfur and tar. In the midst of his pains, St. George heard a voice from heaven saying, "Arise O George and get strong for I am with you." So he arose and kneeled and praised with a loud voice so all who saw him healed and making the sign of the cross, believed in Christ.
The Emperor tried in vain to get St. George to follow his faith. Then he ordered that they bury him in a tub of lime for three days till his body burns. But for their surprise, they found him after the three days completely healed and in good conditions, wearing a glorious garment praying, and there wasn't in his body any trace to the burns. So everybody glorified the God of St. George.
Then, the Emperor ordered that they nail his feet with nails in iron shoes that were heated in fire. And they were beating him to walk while making fun of him. As for St. George, he was praying and reciting psalms to the extent that he was walking normally in the next day. When the Emperor asked for him, he was shocked by what he saw.
After a lot of trials to torture him, the Emperor thought that St. George was saved from them by magic. So he ordered the magician Athanasius, either to make St. George obedient with his magic, or to make him vanish using a poisonous drink.
When they brought the saint, he drank from the cup after making the sign of the cross on it, so it didn't affect him. Thinking that the sign of the cross was his magic, they tied his hands and gave him a second cup. The second cup did not affect him also, as he made the sign of the cross with his head. When the magic failed to explain what happened, the Emperor asked the saint to raise a dead, the matter that magic wouldn't be able to accomplish. At the grave site, the saint prayed loudly, while he was kneeling, entreating God with tears. When he was done with his prayer, the crowd heard a great voice that filled them with fear, then the grave was open, and the dead arose. Thirty seven hundred souls believed by him, among which was Athanasius the magician. So Diocletian ordered their heads to be cut, and they all received the crowns of martyrdom.
The deaths of the saint
The Emperor kept torturing the saint with different kinds of tortures and the Lord was strengthening him and healing him from all of his wounds, which lead a lot to believe and to receive the crown of
martyrdom. And the Lord raised him from his death during the tortures three times:
1. After cutting his body with sharp tools while he was praying asking for help with God's power. And while the Emperor was celebrating the death of the saint in the temple of "Apollon", a cloud appeared with strong thunders and a great voice was heard from it saying: "Don't be afraid, O George, because I am with you." And after that the weather became good and a man with a white garment and a lit face seen by everybody, extended his hand hugging the saint saying to him: "Peace be to you." And then they saw the saint free of the ties and he was in good shape, healed, singing and praising.
2. They put goads in his body and they took off his nails, and nailed him with sharp nails in a wooden bed. Then they poured boiled lead in his mouth, and sawed his body till he delivered his soul. Then the Emperor ordered to boil the body in lead and oil. So a fire arose fifteen cubits high, and then they put the boiler in a deep pit, ten cubits deep. After that, a great earthquake happened, and the sun became dark, and then the Lord with his angels and saints appeared till everybody saw the shining light, while the Emperor and his companions fell on the ground. Then the Lord ordered His angel to split the earth and bring the boiler. The Lord, then, called saying: "Arise O my beloved George. Arise standing healed with no pain nor tiredness." So the saint got up standing and kneeling to God the Lord. Then he wandered evangelizing in the city till a lot believed and received the crown of martyrdom.
3. The Emperor ordered him to be beaten by strips till his flesh shatters, then to put flames of fire on his sides while he's sleeping on a slab with 70 protruding nails in it. And to pour on him tar and lead and sulfur and to put him in a boiler on top of fire so that his body burns. And after he delivered his soul, they spread the dust of his burned body in the air. And after the soldiers finished that, sudden thunders and lightening and a strong earthquake happened. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared on His Cherubim Chariot on top of the clouds, with his angels, and He ordered that the four winds gather the dust of the body, then He called him with His divine authority: "Arise O my beloved George because I am the one who ordered you with this." So the saint arose and kneeled to Him.
The Emperor and his companions offered him 10 cords of gold on a condition that he leaves the city secretively, back to his home town, because they thought that he was a great magician that nobody could beat him. So the saint rebuked them saying: "O you non believers, I, with my own desire and will, left all my father's money and possessions that are valued at 200 cords of gold. And also the cattle, the vineyards, the decorated castles, and the servants and slaves. All of this, I left, out of my love for the Lord Jesus Christ and out of obedience to my creator and His pure commandments. I accepted the persecution and the torture to glorify His Holy Name. So, after all of this, you try to persuade me and you want to tempt me with money to leave my fight by which I declared the name of my God and my Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth. You want me to become like you, to have my destiny be in the depth of hell that's prepared for you and your gods, where there is the fire that never ceases and the worms that never die." The Emperor kept torturing the saint in different ways. But the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him and healed him, which made the number of those who believed from this event, and were martyred thirty four hundred souls.
The Miracles of the Saint
During his tortures, the saint performed a lot of miracles. Among them, he healed the son of a poor woman. He was blind, deaf and mute. The saint prayed for him, and he made the sign of the cross on him, so he was healed from all his illnesses.
The conversion of the Empress
The Emperor tried to be nice to him one more time. He made him a lot of promises, and asked that he worship the idols just once. So St. George tricked him into thinking that he accepted his request. The Emperor was happy, and he made him sleep in his castle, instead of the prison, for the night. While the saint was praying the psalms, the Empress, Alexandra heard him. She asked him to explain to her what he was saying. He started explaining to her everything starting from the creation till the incarnation of Christ, so she believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the Emperor ordered that they announce in the city for the people to see St. George worshipping the idols. So a big crowd gathered, and then St. George stood up and shouted at the idols in the name of the Lord Jesus, till the devils that dwelled in them announced their truth and then the idols fell, breaking, on the ground. So the Emperor and those who were with him got ashamed and returned sad to the castle after ordering to tie the saint with shackles. So the Empress blamed the Emperor for what he did, which led him to know about her faith in St. George’s God. His anger drove him to comb her body with metal combs, and then he ordered her head to be cut, so she received the crown of martyrdom.
The Martyrdom of the Saint
The Emperor and his 70 companions ordered that his head be cut with the blade of the sword to put an end to seven years of tortures that he received from them. So he received the crown of martyrdom in the 23rd of Bermuda in the year 307 AD.
After his martyrdom, Socrates, one of his servants, took his body and carried it to Palestine where they buried him in the place where he lived, just as he asked. And a lot of wonders appeared from him till the time of the Great Constantine, when they built a big church in his name at Lydda in Palestine, and they transferred his body to it. They distributed some parts of his body to many churches around the world.
May his prayers be with us all. Amen.