Feast of St. George Great Martyr and Wonderworker


The patron saint of Western Ukraine is St. George. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral in Lviv is named in his honor. St. George was an officer in the Roman army. He was a Christian who had refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. For that George was tortured and beheaded at Nicomedia in Asia Minor.  His great faith in Christ enabled him to face martyrdom with courage and peace.

In the icon, George is riding on a horse in military uniform. He slays the dragon with a lance. He rescues a woman who was in danger of being devoured. George is depicted fighting a dragon, symbolizing the devil. Victorious in his struggle with the evil one, the devil, George defends and protects the royal maiden, symbolizing the Church.

The Feast of St. George is celebrated on April 23rd on the Gregorian calendar and on May 6th on the Julian calendar.  The faithful had immediately following his death recognized the saintly qualities of George whose intercessory power had resulted in many a miracle. When the persecution of Christians ended, churches were built dedicated to St. George in Constantinople, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere throughout the world, including Ukraine.

The tropar for his Feast speaks of St. George as  ”Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings.” He was loved and admired by many who were not Christian. On his Feast Day, tens of thousands of people would climb the stairs to the Monastery of St. George located in the Princes’ Islands each year. They would come to venerate his miraculous icon, light a candle, embrace the icon and implore Saint for help.  Many who were not even Christian came from a great distance to thank the Great Martyr for answering their personal prayer.

The great love of St. George for others is rooted in his love for God, our Heavenly Father. The saintly martyr understood well the words of Our Lord who taught us that God ”makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). 

This spirit of Love without discrimination was taught by Our Lord in the parable of The Good Samaritan. Let us remember the words of Our Lord that He will speak at His Second and Glorious Coming: ”…I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me…” (Matthew 25:35).”Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (v. 40)

May we today have this same spirit of self-giving love in imitation of Christ Who redeemed us from sin and opened wide the gates to the Heavenly Kingdom.

Rev. D. George Worschak


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