SAINT OF THE DAY: Great-martyr, Victory-bearer, and Wonderworker George is Commemorated on April 23.
The 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 was martyred for Christ when George was still a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, moved there with her son and raised him in strict piety. When he became a man, Saint George entered the Roman army’s service. He was handsome, brave, and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and joined the imperial guard with the rank of military commander. The pagan emperor, who did much for the restoration of Roman might, was clearly concerned with the danger presented to pagan civilization by the triumph of the Crucified Savior, and intensified his persecution against the Christians in the final years of his reign. Following the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian gave all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings against Christians, and he promised them his full support. Saint George, when he heard the decision of the emperor, distributed all his wealth to the poor, freed his servants, and then appeared in the Senate. The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor’s designs. He confessed himself as a Christian. The emperor, who had loved and promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honors but rather to offer sacrifice to the gods as was the Roman custom. The confessor replied, “Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolve to serve God.” Then by order of the enraged emperor, the armed guards began to push Saint George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then led him off to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it bent, just as the spears touched the saint’s body, and it caused him no harm. In prison, they put the martyr’s feet in stocks and placed a heavy stone on his chest. Then Diocletian gave orders to subject Saint George to some very intense tortures. On the final night, the holy martyr prayed fervently, and as he slept, he saw the Lord, Who raised him up with His hand and embraced him. The Savior placed a crown on Saint George’s head and said, “Fear not, but have courage, and you will soon come to Me and receive what has been prepared for you.” The next day, calmly and bravely, the holy Great Martyr George bent his neck beneath the sword, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303. Saint George was the patron saint and protector of several of the great builders of the Russ’/Ukraine state. Saint Volodymyr’s son, Yaroslav the Wise (in holy Baptism George), advanced the veneration of the saint in the Ukrainian Church. He built the city of Yuriiv, and a church of Saint George the Victory Bearer at Kyiv.