06 May 2014

The feast of S. George the Trophy-Bearer

‘We believe he was a great martyr for his faith who defended the Christian faith and values… By making sacrifices for his faith he was able to defeat evil. We take St George as a patron for people living here - and as he was born in historic Palestine, we pray to him to remember us and this holy land.’

- Bishop Atallah Hanna, as quoted in Pravoslavie.ru

S. George of Lydda is remembered fondly in the Holy Land, as well as in England and in many other nations around the world, as a dedicated soldier, as the personal guard of the Roman Emperor and as the famed slayer of the dragon. The manner in which he met his martyrdom, though, was not through any great feat of arms nor through any military triumph for the Roman state; no, indeed, it was through a non-violent act of conscientious resistance against that very same Empire which employed him and had brought him so near to the Emperor.

When the Emperor Diocletian issued a declaration calling for all Christian soldiers in the Empire to be arrested, George spoke out of his own faith against this tyrannical decree, and loudly proclaimed himself a follower of the new faith, not of the pagan gods of Rome. Diocletian tempted George with gold and land and slaves, but George was swayed by none; finally, in a rage, Diocletian ordered George to be tortured and executed. A witness of the just kingdom to come against all earthly empires with their weapons of fleshly torment and death, made futile by the power of Christ - who better fit to be a patron of the Palestinian people, who are so routinely subjected to indignities and death in their own homeland at the behest of the foremost and most-favoured client state of today’s imperium?

Remember S. George today, then: a dignified and worthy soldier in all things, but most of all in truth, who placed the needs of that truth before the tyrannical demands of the Empire he served. George, holy and glorious Great Martyr, Trophy-Bearer and Wonder-Worker, pray with us this day.

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