FEAST OF ST. GEORGE (April 23/May 6)
St. George was authentic & true to his calling. George was born at the end of the third century. His parents were of Cappadocian origin. After his father’s death, his mother, Polychronia, educated the ten-year George according to the Christian faith. She had previously embraced the Faith without the knowledge of her husband. George in his youth was educated in the Gospel spirit of Love & Truth.
At age 18, George entered the military. Emperor Diocletian had quickly noticed the valor of the young soldier. Manifesting strength given to him by the Almighty God, George had slain the beast, a dangerous dragon, which imperiled the life of the Emperor’s daughter. The people in the area were full of awe at this God-given strength. Thus, many were converted from their pagan belief to the true faith, Christianity.
Nonetheless, Diocletian had persisted in his pagan beliefs and had begun to persecute Christians. The courage & fortitude of George became manifest. He bravely professed his faith in Christ. He was not fearful of any reproach. Moreover, George came to the defense of his contemporary Christians. As an authentic follower of Christ, he spoke out in defense of those Christians who suffered persecution under the reign of Emperor Diocletian. This greatly angered the Emperor.
Emperor Diocletian even sought to lure George away from the Christian faith. Diocletian desired the total support of George, not only in defending the Empire, but also with regard to the Emperor’s opposition & persecution of true-believing Christians. The Emperor offered George honors & position if only he would offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The saintly George remained true to the Faith, walking in the footsteps of his Lord and Master. George suffered many tortures, but remained steadfast. When given the choice between the fleeting honors, positions and glory of this world, between an earthly life without suffering and that of taking up one’s cross and following Christ, George chose the eternal one seeking the reward of eternal life with Christ in Heaven. He was ready to even die for the Faith, to be beheaded and become a Martyr.
The early Christian Church recognized his fortitude and regarded George as a steadfast believer, a worker of miracles and a brave warrior against evil. Early Christian art depicted the saintly warrior George, clothed in armor, seated on a white horse and slaying a dragon. George had fought the good fight and was victorious over the ugliness of evil with the brilliance of divinely-inspired truth & strength.
St. George is honored today by Ukrainian Catholics as a “Great Martyr”, calling him “Victorious One”, overcoming the obstacles that the evil one placed. Ukrainian farmers pray to him for the safety & well-being of their flocks. In Lviv, a beautiful, majestic Cathedral was built in his honor. St. George was long regarded as the patron, protector of western Ukraine, Halychyna. His veneration extends throughout the Christian East & West. England & Georgia, designate him as their patron and protector. His valor, patient endurance & willingness to suffer martyrdom, designate this loyal warrior of Christ, worthy of veneration & intercession before the Heavenly throne of the Pantocrator, Christ the King & Ruler of the Universe.
Father George Worschak
Photo: Saint George by Johann Georg Pinsel (Lviv Cathedral)