ST. GEORGE PRINCE OF THE MARTYRS
Coptic Date: 23 Parmoute
On this day, of the year 307 A.D., the great among the martyrs St. George, was martyred. He was born in Cappadocia in Minor Asia; in the first half of the third century to a wealthy and godly Christian family. His father's name was Anastasius, and his mother's name was Theobaste. When he was fourteen years old, his father died and their mother took charge of raising them up on a Christian piety. His mother took them back to the city of Lydda in Palestine, her homeland. When George grew to be a courageous and brilliant young man, Justus, the governor of Palestine, took interest and enlisted him in the army. He learnt horsemanship and was promoted in the ranks until he reached the rank of a commander. Meanwhile, Justus the pious governor of Palestine departed. His mother departed when he was twenty years old so he went to Emperor Diocletian to take over his father's position. He found that the Emperor had apostatized the faith and ordered the worship of idols. George was sorrowful, and he gave all his wealth to the poor and needy and set free his slaves. When he saw the edict of the Emperor against the Christians, he became raged and tore it. They took him before the Emperor and confessed the Lord Christ. Diocletian marvelled at his courage and was informed that he was the son of an eminent governor. The king befriended him and tried to persuade him with many promises to offer incense to the idols to grant him all his wishes. George refused all the earthly futile promises, and stood firm in his loyalty to his Christ and his faith. The king was furious and ordered to torment him severely with the severest and horrific kinds of tortures.
They placed him in the Hinbazeen which tore his body and his blood flew. Then they cast him in quicklime for three days but the Lord protected him. However, the king attributed that to sorcery. They put on his shoes made of iron with red hot nails beating him with sticks to force him to walk while mocking him. They scourged him with oxtails until his blood flow and in all these tortures the Lord consoled him and healed his wounds. George kept his serenity and calm face that the king and the provincial governors who were condemning him to all these tortures, marvelled.
When the Emperor was weary of torturing him, he brought a magician, whose name was Athanasius, who gave the Saint a cup full of poison to drink. St. George made the sign of the cross over the cup then drank it. When no harm came upon him, the magician believed in the Lord Christ, and received the crown of martyrdom. The Emperor became raged and ordered to squeeze him until he delivered up his soul, and they cast his body outside the city. The Lord Christ raised him up, and the Saint returned to the city. When the people saw him, three thousand and seven hundred souls believed. The Emperor ordered them to cut off their heads and they received the crown of martyrdom. When St. George stood before Emperor Diocletian, along with seventy kings that were sitting around him, they asked the Saint: 'We wish you to make these chairs that we are sitting on to put forth leaves, and bear fruit.' The Saint prayed to the Lord Christ, the Lord accepted his supplication and the chairs put forth leaves and bore fruit.
They took him once to a cemetery and asked him to raise the dead therein. He prayed to the Lord Christ. The Lord raised them and after they talked to them, they returned to their graves and died. A poor woman, brought her son, who was blind, deaf and dumb, he prayed to the Lord Christ then made the sign of the cross over him, and he was healed right away. Diocletian, during all that, went on torturing St. George, until he was weary and bored of that. He started to be pleasant to the Saint and promised to give him his daughter in marriage if he would offer the incense to his gods. The Saint pretended that he accepted his offer, and the Emperor rejoiced and brought him into the royal palace. While St. George was praying the Psalms, the Empress heard him and asked him to explain to her what he had said. He began to interpret to her all the events from the creation of the world to the Incarnation of the Lord Christ, and his words entered her heart and she believed in the Lord Christ, to Whom is the Glory. The Emperor ordered all the men of the city to gather, in order to see Saint George offering the incense to the Emperor's gods. When the multitude gathered by the idols, George talked to the idol and asked him to state clearly his true identity. The devil was forced to speak from the idol and said, “I am not a god myself or any other idol like me. But the true God is the One that you are proclaiming.” Immediately after, all the idols fell and were destroyed. The priests of the idols became furious and stirred up the people screaming in the face of the king; “His life for we can’t tolerate seeing him anymore.” The Emperor and all those who were with him were ashamed and he returned to his palace full of fury and wrath. Because of this miracle Queen Alexandra, Diocletian’s wife, believed in the Lord Christ. The Emperor with rage ordered to comb her body with a steel comb, then cut off her head, and she received the crown of martyrdom. Finally, Diocletian decided to put an end to the humiliation that befell him, so he ordered to behead St. George. In the place of execution St. George prayed a fervent prayer then extended his neck to the swordsman who cut off his head and he received the crown of martyrdom. A Christian took the body, wrapped it in expensive shrouds, and took it to the city of Lydda, his hometown, and they built a great church on his name there.
May his intercession be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.