Category Archives: Martyrs/Saints

#FineArtFriday: Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello 1470 — Life in the Realm of Fantasy

The above painting by Paolo Uccello, from around 1470, is a surreal, stylized retelling of the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. The legend tells of the knight slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices. With the slaying of the dragon, the hero has saved the princess who was chosen to be the next offering. Nothing looks real […]

via #FineArtFriday: Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello 1470 — Life in the Realm of Fantasy

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Who was Saint George?

Saint George

The difference between a legend and a fairy story, is that a legend is a traditional account handed down from father to son, through the generations, whilst a fairy story is fictional.

So which one of these was Saint George?

What do we know about Saint George?

He was born in Cappadocia, which today is part of Turkey, to Christian parents, during the 3rdcentury.

His mother was a native of Palestine, and upon George’s father’s death, they left Cappadocia, returning to her home of Palestine.

George became a soldier in the Roman army, and rose to the rank of Tribune.

Emperor Diocletian (245-313AD), began a campaign of persecution against the Christians. George tore up the Emperor’s orders and resigned his military post in 303AD out of protest of these actions.

George was imprisoned and tortured, for his actions, but never would he deny his faith. The Emperor had him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (now known as Lydda), in Palestine. The Emperor gave George a chance. His life would be spared, if he would offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. The people gathered and George prayed to his Christian God, so outraging the Emperor… He was beheaded for his contempt.

Emperor Diocletian wife, became a Christian, after witnessing George’s resilience, and she too was executed for her faith.

Pope Gelasius stated in 494AD about George, he was to be numbered among those saints whose names are justly re-veered among men, but whose deeds are only known to God.

George became Saint George on 23rdApril 1222.

What took place, that we celebrate Saint George:

Jacques de Voragine, a French bishop wrote a book called “The Golden Legend” about Saints lives, but it only achieved mass circulation in 1483 when it was printed by Caxton.

The image of Saint George, dressed in a white tunic with a red cross emblazoned upon it, is familiar to one and all. Sitting astride upon his stallion, and skewering a dragon as he rescues a fair maiden.

The Golden Legend, talks of a dragon demanding one human and sheep as a sacrifice from this city, upon his visit. As the story goes, Saint George intervened for the fair maiden, and defeated the dragon by slicing the sign of the cross upon him. The princess led the defeated dragon into the city, with her girdle about his neck.

George told the people, be not afraid, believe in God and Jesus Christ. The king and all his people were baptised, and George slew the dragon.

It is believed Saint George was adopted by the English, because of the Golden Legend story, which was quickly incorporated into plays from pagan sources. He also became the main character in Edmund Spenser’s poem: The Fairie Queen.

The earliest known British reference to Saint George occurs in an account by a 7thcentury Abbot – St.Adamnan of Iona, who heard the story from a French bishop – Arcuif who had travelled to Jerusalem and other holy places in Palestine.

George’s reputation grew with returning crusaders. A miracle appearance, when it was claimed that he appeared to lead crusaders into battle.

The earliest known church to be dedicated to Saint George is at Fordington in Dorset.

Oxford council in 1222 named 23rdApril, as Saint George’s Day.

In 1348 Edward III, founded the Order of the Garter, the premier order of Knighthood in all England, and put it under Saint George’s patronage.

Many believed they saw Saint George fighting on the English side at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, achieving victory against overwhelming odds.

St.Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle built by Edward IV and Henry VII, shows Saint George on horseback slaying the dragon.

From the 14thcentury Saint George was regarded as a special protector of the English.

The English Reformation began in 1527 and changed religious beliefs, and Saint George’s popularity faded.

In 1778 Saint George’s Day was demoted to a simple day of devotion for Catholics in England.

In 1940 King George VI inaugurated the George Cross for acts of heroism, courage in times of extreme danger.

The flag of Saint George is a red cross on a white background, incorporated into the Union Jack and also the ensign of the Royal Navy.

How deeply the legend of St.George as an English Knight has entered the national consciousness. Judged by the repeated mention of his name in Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Saint George a courteous, knightly figure is the type and figure of all our race and kind. He is what Englishmen desire to be.

Question:

If you ask the man or woman in the street who Saint George was, they would more than likely answer an English warrior.

If you told them, he came from Turkey … they would be surprised.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine
Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine was born into the aristocratic family of King Costus and Queen Sabinella, rulers of Alexandria in AD294.  The young Catherine was well versed in the arts, sciences and philosophy.  She was raised a pagan and in her teenage years, converted to Christianity by the teachings of a Syrian monk.  She received a vision which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave her to Christ, in a mystical marriage.

During the latter years of Christian prosecution by the Romans, she publicly confessed her faith, being a Christian.  Catherine attempted to convince the Roman Emperor; Maxentius the error of his ways, by persecuting Christians who refused to worship idols.  According to historical accounts, some fifty Philosophers from the Roman world were brought face to face with her, to reason with her.  Catherine won debate after debate, and converted her adversaries to Christianity by her persuasive arguments, and they were put to death by the Roman Emperor.

Catherine was imprisoned, and hundreds are said to have visited her including the wife of Maxentius; the Empress.  All who converted to Christianity were martyred.

Emperor Maxentius had Catherine tortured, but she would not yield, he proposed marriage, and she refused saying; Jesus Christ be my spouse.

Saint Catherines Execution
Saint Catherine’s Execution

An outraged Maxentius condemned her to death on the spiked breaking wheel, but this instrument of torture was destroyed by her touch, finally he ordered that she be beheaded.

Catherine was executed, and the corpse of Saint Catherine, a 4th century Christian martyr was carried to the peak of Mount Sinai by angels.  Some three centuries later, monks brought it down and buried her in the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Wikipedia Images

Roman History: Saint George

Saint George
Saint George

George was born in Cappadocia, which today is part of Turkey, to Christian parents, during the 3rd century.

His mother was a native of Palestine, and upon George’s father’s death, they left Cappadocia, returning to her home of Palestine.

George became a soldier in the Roman army, and rose to the rank of Tribune.

Emperor Diocletian (245-313AD), began a campaign of persecution against the Christians. George tore up the Emperor’s orders and resigned his military post in 303AD out of protest of these actions.

George was imprisoned and tortured, for his actions, but never would he deny his faith. The Emperor had him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (now known as Lydda), in Palestine. The Emperor gave George a chance. His life would be spared, if he would offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. The people gathered and George prayed to his Christian God, so outraging the Emperor… He was beheaded for his contempt.

Emperor Diocletian wife became a Christian, after witnessing George’s resilience, and she too was executed for her faith.

Pope Gelasius stated in 494AD about George, he was to be numbered among those saints whose names are justly re-veered among men, but whose deeds are only known to God.

George became Saint George on 23rd April 1222.

Image: Royal Society of St.George