St George was born in 280 AD in a Christian family, in the city of
Capadocia, in Minor Asia. As a young nobleman St
George followed the tradition of the Roman Empire to
join the Roman army. He was a Christian and struggled to spread the Christian
message. When the Emperor
Diocletian in the Roman Empire became aware of St George, he did everything in
his power to destroy him because of his Christian faith. The Emperor
persecuted Christians and destroyed churches.
On 23 February 303 AD, Diocletian gave orders, which were various directives in regards to the Christian community, which he had published in public in a market the day after. For instance, he wanted all the churches should be torn down, have Christian books burned, have Christian people deprived of their civil rights. Also to arrest and kill Christian leaders. When St George saw the propaganda papers of Diocletian, he tore them down into pieces, in form of a protest. As a result, he was arrested and taken to the Emperor Diocletian's palace. When he came into the palace of Diocletian, he tried to talk him out of his conduction towards the Christians. The emperor tried instead to tempt him with various promises and give him a high position of power in the kingdom, but St George was not attracted by the promises and refused to abandon his Christian faith for anyone. Diocletian became angry and threatened him with pain and torture. It ended up with St George sitting in jail.
The Emperor knew that nothing except sin could destroy the integrity and life of St George. But St George was very strong in his faith, in which no trials of Diocletian could work on him. Regardless of how much St George suffered, he still tried to spread the true Christian faith further on. Diocletian even tried to kill St George and thought he was dead several times, but through the power of the Lord, he came back alive. At one point he even tried to poison him. Diocletian believed that St George was doing magic since he did not die of any assassination attempts against him. But it was actually Jesus Christ who revived him. Diocletian tested St George's strength to revive a close friend of him and St George prayed to the Lord Jesus and the dead friend came back to life once again. For all the suffering that he had to go through, St George never gave up and continued talking to Diocletian about the powers of the Christian faith.
After all the assassination attempts against St George, the emperor realized that he could not put an end to his life, so he demanded that he would be beheaded with a sword. On April 23rd 303 AD St George's life ended at 23 years old. He was buried in his mother's home who was situated by the beach at Lydda in Palestine. He became a martyr for the Christian people, since he died for his faith.
King Constantine who then took over after Diocletian claimed that St George was the true role model for the young Christian man, and asked to have a church built over his tomb. The Coptic Egyptians call him, "The Prince of Martyrs" and they have built over 200 churches named after him. The Greeks call him "The Great Martyr".
An event worthy of attention is St George's fight against the dragon. This took place when he was stationed in the Roman army near Salone in Libya, North Africa. The dragon was described as a large crocodile with wings and a deadly breath. The dragon was placed outside the walls of the city, and no one could get in or out. The Dragon had also eaten a lot of people around Salone. Many people fled to the city and searched for shelter behind its walls. At that time there was a young princess who was about to be sacrificed to the dragon. St George then decided to kill the dragon on his white horse and thousands of people were baptized into Christianity after the incident. He received no pay in cash but instead he asked the king to maintain the churches and to help the poor. The story is very popular worldwide because of its spiritual significance of St George defeating the devil through the cross and His righteousness in Christ.
Historians recognize that St George is a true hero who dared to challenge Diocletian. He held his spirit pure and untouched until death. He converted many into true Christian doctrine. On April 23rd of each year, the day of St George is celebrated as a great feast in many churches worldwide.
By: Helen Jakoub
Translated by: Issa Gabriel