Saint George (April 23)
Saint George was born in Palestine of Christian parents: towards the close of the third century. In early youth he chose a soldier’s life, and soon obtained the favor of Diocletian, who advanced him to the grade of tribune. But when the emperor began to persecute the Christians, George rebuked him at once for his cruelty, sternly and openly, and announced his resignation. Having foreseen that the words he would say might bring about his death, he had first distributed his wealth and clothing to the poor.
“Young man,” Diocletian said to him, “think of your future!”
“I am a Christian,” George replied, “and nothing in this world is the object either of my ambition or my regret. Nothing can shake my faith.”
He was subjected to a long series of torments, and finally beheaded.
Pious legend tells us that Silene in Libya was plagued by a venom-spewing dragon dwelling in a nearby pond, poisoning the countryside. To prevent it from affecting the city itself, the people offered it two sheep daily, then a man and a sheep, and finally their children an youths, chosen by lottery.
One time the lot fell on the king’s daughter. The king offered all his gold and silver to have his daughter spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon. Saint George by chance arrived at the spot. The dragon emerged from the pond, Saint George made the Sing of the Cross and charged it on horseback, seriously wounded it with his lance. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon’s neck.
The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city, where it terrified the populace. Saint George consented to kill the dragon if they consented to become Christians and be baptized. Fifteen thousand men including the king of Silene converted. George then killed the dragon, beheading it with his sword.
Devotion to Saint George is very ancient and widespread in the Church. He is the patron saint of England.