Orthodox Remembrance Day: 23 April, 6 May

Name means: the country man (Greek)

Martyrs, emergency helpers

Attributes: Knight with lance, piercing the dragon

Patron: soldiers, farmers, horsemen, miners, saddlers, blacksmiths, armourers and gunsmiths, coopers, scouts, artists, hikers, prisoners, hospitals and sick houses, horses and cattle, against the dangers of war, snakebite poisoning, temptations, fever, plague, leprosy, syphilis, for good weather


* c. 280 in Cappadocia in Turkey

305 (?)  in Lydda / Diospolis, today Lod in Israel

Antike original russische Ikone aus dem 19. Jahrhundert.


According to legends, he was born as the son of a rich and respected family in Cappadocia and baptized there in a monastery. Another tradition mentions Sebaste in Armenia – today’s Sivas in Turkey – as the birthplace, his mother Polychronia was therefore a Christian and came from Lydda, where the family moved after the death of his father, when George was still young. George joined the Roman army, was awarded for his courage and became an army commander. Martyr legends know a Bishop George of Alexandria, who after countless martyrdoms was repeatedly brought to life by the Archangel Michael. Other legends tell of a George who suffered under a Persian king Datian in Melitene – today’s Battalgazi near Malatya in Turkey – in later legends the tormentor is introduced as Judge Dacian, who initiated the torturers of George in the persecutions under Diocletian. In a vision, Jesus himself is said to have foretold him a seven-year martyrdom, where he would die three times and be resurrected. Once, 60 nails are said to have been hammered into his head at the same time. The legend of the knight George’s battle with a dragon, which lived in a lake in front of the city of Silena in Lybia – today’s Qabīlat Sīlīn near Al Khums – or in front of Cyrene – today’s Shahhat in Libya (?) – became particularly famous and polluted the city with its poisonous breath. The inhabitants had to sacrifice lambs to him every day to satisfy his grimm. When no more animals could be found, the sons and daughters were sacrificed. One day, the lot hit the king’s daughter — who can be considered the embodiment of the church — who, after a heartbreaking farewell to her parents, went to the lake outside the city. Then George appeared, after he had survived all the tortures, had been quartered and had been brought back to life and to glorious beauty by the cherubs with Michael. When the dragon appeared, George swung the lance with the sign of the cross and pierced the beast, which fell to the ground.


George caused the king’s daughter to pull the dragon with her belt into the city, where everyone wanted to flee. George promised to kill the dragon if people converted to Christ. He slew the dragon, four pairs of oxen had to carry the enormous weight of the dragon out of the city, the king was then baptized with all the people. This depiction corresponds to the 12th century poem of George, which emphasizes the role of the hero who supports the Crusaders. Here Demetrius and Theodore appear as his brothers, who stand by his side in an older tradition and are next to George the most revered saints of the Eastern Church. It is also worth noting the oldest ideas, re-emerging in the legend of George, of the heroic fight and liberation from the dragon force of evil by a new consciousness.


Joachim Schäfer: Article Georg der Märtyrer, from the Ecumenical Dictionary of Saints:

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