Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saint George, Martyr

(The following is excerpted from the 23 April entry in Volume VIII of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation of Dom Prosper Guéranger's 'The Liturgical Year' by the Benedictines of Stanbrook.)

"Saint George is usually represented as killing a dragon; and where the representation is complete, there is also given the figure of a princess, whom the Saint thus saves from being devoured by the monster. This favourite subject of both sacred and profane art is purely symbolical, and is of Byzantine origin. It signifies the victory won over the devil, by the martyr's courageous profession of faith; the princess represents [Saint] Alexandra, who who was converted by witnessing the Saint's heroic patience under his sufferings [St. George was beheaded in the Greek city of Nicomedia in A.D. 303]...."

"...[T]he following historical lesson has recently been approved for the Dioceses of England:"

"George, who among the martyrs of the East has received the name of the Great Martyr, suffered a glorious death for the sake of Christ in the persecution of Diocletian. When shortly afterwards peace was given to the Church under Constantine, the memory of [the Martyr] began to be celebrated. Churches were erected to his honour in Palestine and at Constantinople, and devotion to him spread through the East and into the West. From early times, Christian armies have invoked the protection of St. George, together with Saints Maurice and Sebastian, when going into battle. Special devotion was shown to St. George in England for many centuries, and Pope Benedict XIV declared him the special Protector of that kingdom."


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