Saint George (Greek: Γεώργιος, Geṓrgios; Latin: Georgius;
Coptic: Ⲡⲓⲇⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲅⲉⲟⲣⲅⲓⲟⲥ; between AD
23 April 303), according to legend, was a Roman soldier
of Greek and Palestinian origin and officer in the Guard of Roman
emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for refusing to recant
Christian faith. As a
Christian martyr, he later became one of the
most venerated saints in Christianity, and was especially venerated by
the Crusaders. George's parents were Christians of Greek background,
his father Gerontius (Greek: Γερόντιος, Gerontios meaning
"old man" in Greek) was a
Roman army official from Cappadocia, and his
mother Polychronia (Greek name, meaning she who lives many years) was
Christian and a Greek native from Lydda in the Roman province of
In hagiography, as one of the
Fourteen Holy Helpers
Fourteen Holy Helpers and one of the
most prominent military saints, he is immortalised in the myth of
Saint George and the Dragon. His memorial,
Saint George's Day, is
traditionally celebrated on 23 April. (See under "Feast days" below
for the use of the
Julian calendar by the Eastern Orthodox Church.)
Numerous countries, cities, professions and organisations claim Saint
George as their patron.
2.2 Muslim legends
Saint George and the dragon
4 Veneration as a martyr
5 Feast days
Malta and Gozo
7 Veneration in the Levant
8 Veneration in the Muslim world
9 Arms and flag
10 Iconography and models
12 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
St. George slays the dragon (De Grey Hours, c. 1400)
There is little information on the early life of
Saint George. Herbert
The Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that based upon an
ancient cultus, narratives of the early pilgrims, and the early
dedications of churches to
Saint George, going back to the fourth
century, "there seems, therefore, no ground for doubting the
historical existence of St. George", although no faith can be placed
in either the details of his history or his alleged exploits.
According to Donald Attwater, "No historical particulars of his life
have survived, ... The widespread veneration for St George as a
soldier saint from early times had its centre in Palestine at
Diospolis, now Lydda. St George was apparently martyred there, at the
end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century; that is all
that can be reasonably surmised about him."
St. George slays the dragon. Georgian Fresco
Accounts differ regarding whether George was born in
Syria Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in
Lydda in Palestine. His parents were Christian, of the nobility and
of Greek heritage. His father Gerontius was a
Roman army official from
Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia was from Lydda in the province
of Syria Palaestina. His father died when he was fourteen, and his
mother returned with George to her homeland of Syria Palaestina.
Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, by Bernat Martorell
A few years later, George's mother died. At seventeen, he traveled
to the capital at
Nicomedia and following the customary course of a
young Roman noble, joined the Roman army. By his late twenties,
George was promoted to the rank of military tribune and stationed as
an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.
One story has him traveling to Britain with the future emperor
Constantine and visiting Glastonbury and Caerleon. Years later,
George was promoted to the rank of legatus.
On 24 February 303, Diocletian, influenced by Galerius, issued an
edict that every
Christian soldier in the army should be degraded and
every soldier required to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. Seeing
the edict, George freed his slaves, distributed his wealth to the
poor, and prepared to meet his fate. He then confronted the emperor
about the edict and declared himself to be a Christian. Diocletian
attempted to convert George, offering gifts of land, money, and slaves
if he would sacrifice to the gods, but the tribune refused.
Recognizing the futility of his efforts and insisting on upholding his
Diocletian ordered that George be arrested. In an effort to
undermine his resolve, the emperor sent a woman to the prison to spend
the night with George, who having little time for earthly concerns
managed to convert her instead. George was executed by
decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on
23 April 303. A witness
of his suffering convinced Empress
Alexandra of Rome
Alexandra of Rome to become a
Christian as well, so she joined George in martyrdom. His body was
returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him
as a martyr.
In The Golden Legend, by 13th-century Archbishop of
Genoa Jacobus de
Voragine, George's death is at the hands of Dacian, and about the year
It has been established that
Saint George the Martyr and the Arian
Bishop George of
Alexandria were not identical; furthermore that
Bishop George was slain by Gentile Greeks for exacting onerous taxes,
especially inheritance taxes. And that
Saint George in all likelihood
was martyred before the year 290.  Although the Diocletianic
Persecution of 303, associated with military saints because the
persecution was aimed at Christians among the professional soldiers of
the Roman army, is of undisputed historicity, the identity of Saint
George as a historical individual had not been ascertained as of
Edmund Spenser's day,
Herbert Thurston in the saint's entry in
the early 20th century
Catholic Encyclopedia takes the position that
there are no grounds for doubting the historical existence of Saint
George, but that, as usual with saints of this early period, the
legend of the dragon cannot be treated as historical.
Saint George in the Acta Sanctorum, as collected in late 1600s and
early 1700s. The Latin title De S Georgio Megalo-Martyre; Lyddae seu
Diospoli in Palaestina" translates as "St. George Great-Martyr; [from]
Lydda or Diospolis, in Palestine.
The earliest text preserving fragments of George's narrative is in a
Greek hagiography identified by
Hippolyte Delehaye of the scholarly
Bollandists to be a palimpsest of the fifth century. The compiler
of this Acta Sancti Georgii, according to Hippolyte Delehaye,
"confused the martyr with his namesake, the celebrated George of
Cappadocia, the Arian intruder into the see of
Alexandria and enemy of
St. Athanasius". An earlier work by Eusebius, Church history, written
in the 4th century, contributed to the legend but did not name George
or provide significant detail.
A critical edition of a Syriac Acta of
needed] accompanied by an annotated English translation, was published
by E.W. Brooks (1863–1955) in 1925.
The work of the Bollandists Daniel Papebroch, Jean Bolland, and
Godfrey Henschen in the 17th century was one of the first pieces of
scholarly research to establish the saint's historicity via their
publications in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca.
Pope Gelasius I
stated that George was among those saints "whose names are justly
reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God."
The traditional legends, for example that of the Golden Legend, have
offered a historicised narration of George's encounter with a dragon.
The modern legend that follows below is synthesised from early and
late hagiographical sources, omitting the more fantastical episodes.
Chief among the legendary sources about the saint is the Golden
Legend, which remains the most familiar version in English owing to
William Caxton's 15th-century translation.
Edward Gibbon argued that George, or at least the legend from
which the above is distilled, is based on George of
Cappadocia, a notorious Arian bishop who was Athanasius of
Alexandria's most bitter rival, and that it was he who in time became
Saint George of England.
J. B. Bury
J. B. Bury (16 October 1861 – 1 June 1927),
who edited the 1906 edition of The Decline and Fall, wrote "this
theory of Gibbon's has nothing to be said for it." He adds that: "the
connection of St. George with a dragon-slaying legend does not
relegate him to the region of the myth".
George (Arabic: جرجس, Jiriyas or Girgus) is included in some
Muslim texts as a prophetic figure. The Islamic sources state that he
lived among a group of believers who were in direct contact with last
apostles of Jesus. He is described as a rich merchant who opposed
erection of Apollo's statue by Mosul's king Dadan. After confronting
the king, George was tortured many times to no effect, was imprisoned
and was aided by the angels. Eventually, he exposed that the idols
were possessed by Satan, but was martyred when the city was destroyed
by God in a rain of fire.
Muslim scholars had tried to find a historical connection of the saint
due to his popularity. According to Muslim legend, he was martyred
under the rule of
Diocletian and was killed three times but
resurrected every time. The legend is more developed in the Persian
version of al-Tabari wherein he resurrects the dead, makes trees
sprout and pillars bear flowers. After one of his deaths, the world is
covered by darkness and is lifted only when he is resurrected. He is
able to convert the queen but she is put to death. He then prays to
god to allow him to die which is granted.
Al-Tha`labi states that he was from Palestine and lived in the times
of some disciples of Jesus. He was killed many times by the king of
Mosul, and resurrected each time. When he tried to starve him, he
touched a piece of dry wood brought by a woman and turned it green,
with varieties of fruits and vegetables growing from it. After his
fourth death, the city was burnt along with him. Ibn al-Athir's
account of one of his deaths is parallel to the crucifixion of Jesus,
stating, "When he died, God sent stormy winds and thunder and
lightning and dark clouds, so that darkness fell between heaven and
earth, and people were in great wonderment..." The account adds that
the darkness was lifted after his resurrection.
Saint George and the dragon
Russian icon (mid 14th century), Novgorod.
Miniature from a 13th-century Passio Sancti Georgii (Verona)
Saint George and the Dragon
In the medieval romances, the lance with which
Saint George slew the
dragon was called Ascalon after the Levantine city of Ashkelon, today
in Israel. The name Ascalon was used by
Winston Churchill for his
personal aircraft during World War II, according to records at
Bletchley Park. In Sweden, the princess rescued by
Saint George is held to represent the kingdom of Sweden, while the
dragon represents an invading army. Several
Saint George battling the dragon can be found in
Stockholm, the earliest inside
Storkyrkan ("The Great Church") in the
Old Town. Iconography of the horseman with spear overcoming evil was
widespread throughout the
Pharaonic mythology, the god Set or Setekh murdered his brother
Horus (Heru), the son of Osiris, avenged his father's death by
killing Setekh. Modern-day researchers interpret a late antique Coptic
stone fenestrella of mounted hawk-headed figure fighting a crocodile,
Horus killing a metamorphosed Set, and have considered this scene
ancestral to later iconography of George killing a dragon.
Veneration as a martyr
Saint George in devotions, traditions and prayers
The martyrdom of
Saint George, by Paolo Veronese, 1564
A titular church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine the
Great (reigned 306–37) was consecrated to "a man of the highest
distinction", according to the church history of Eusebius; the name of
the titulus "patron" was not disclosed, but later he was asserted[by
whom?] to have been George.
By the time of the early Muslim conquests of the mostly
Zoroastrian Middle East, a basilica in Lydda dedicated to
existed. The church was destroyed by Muslims in 1010, but was
later rebuilt and dedicated to
Saint George by the Crusaders. In 1191
and during the conflict known as the
Third Crusade (1189–92), the
church was again destroyed by the forces of Saladin, Sultan of the
Ayyubid dynasty (reigned 1171–93). A new church was
erected in 1872 and is still standing.
During the fourth century, the veneration of George spread from Syria
Palaestina through Lebanon to the rest of the
Byzantine Empire –
though the martyr is not mentioned in the Syriac Breviarium –
and the region east of the Black Sea. In Georgia, the feast day on 23
November is credited to
Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who in Georgian
hagiography is a relative of
Saint George, credited with bringing
Christianity to the
Georgians in the fourth century.
By the fifth century, the veneration of
Saint George had reached the
Christian Western Roman Empire, as well: in 494, George was canonized
as a saint by
Pope Gelasius I, among those "whose names are justly
reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to
In England, he was mentioned among the martyrs by the 8th-century monk
Georgslied is an adaptation of his legend in Old High
German, composed in the late 9th century. The earliest dedication to
the saint in
England is a church at
Fordington, Dorset that is
mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great.
Saint George did not
rise to the position of "patron saint" of England, however, until the
14th century, and he was still obscured by Edward the Confessor, the
traditional patron saint of England, until in 1552 during the reign of
Edward VI all saints' banners other than George's were abolished in
the English Reformation.
An apparition of George heartened the
Franks at the siege of Antioch,
1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at
Jerusalem. The chivalric military Order of Sant Jordi
d'Alfama was established by king Peter the
Catholic from the Crown of
Aragon in 1201, Republic of Genoa, Kingdom of Hungary (1326), and by
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and in
England the 1222 Synod
of Oxford declared
Saint George's Day
Saint George's Day a feast day in the kingdom of
Edward III of England
Edward III of England put his Order of the
Garter under the banner of St. George, probably in 1348. The
Jean Froissart observed the English invoking
as a battle cry on several occasions during the Hundred Years' War. In
his rise as a national saint, George was aided by the very fact that
the saint had no legendary connection with England, and no
specifically localized shrine, as that of
Thomas Becket at Canterbury:
"Consequently, numerous shrines were established during the late
fifteenth century," Muriel C. McClendon has written, "and his did
not become closely identified with a particular occupation or with the
cure of a specific malady."
The establishment of George as a popular and protective saint in
the West that had captured the medieval imagination was codified by
the official elevation of his feast to a festum duplex at a church
council in 1416, on the date that had become associated with his
martyrdom, 23 April. Wide latitude existed from community to community
in celebration of the day across late medieval and early modern
England, and no uniform "national" celebration elsewhere, a token
of the popular and vernacular nature of George's cultus and its local
horizons, supported by a local guild or confraternity under George's
protection, or the dedication of a local church. When the English
Reformation severely curtailed the saints' days in the calendar, Saint
George's Day was among the holidays that continued to be observed.
Saint George was a knight from Cappadocia, who rescued a maiden
princess from a dragon at Silene in Libya, leading to the
Christianization of much of her father's kingdom. Depiction here by
Saint George in devotions, traditions and prayers
In the General Roman Calendar, the feast of
Saint George is on 23
April. In the
Tridentine Calendar of 1568, it was given the rank of
Pope Pius XII's 1955 calendar this rank was reduced
to "Simple", and in
Pope John XXIII's 1960 calendar to a
Pope Paul VI's 1969 revision, it appears as an
optional "Memorial". In some countries, such as England, the rank is
higher. In England, it is a Solemnity (Roman Catholic) or Feast
(Church of England): if it falls between Palm Sunday and the Second
Easter inclusive, it is transferred to the Monday after the
Second Sunday of Easter.
Saint George is very much honoured by the Eastern Orthodox Church,
wherein he is referred to as a "Great Martyr", and in Oriental
Orthodoxy overall. His major feast day is on
23 April (Julian calendar
23 April currently corresponds to
Gregorian calendar 6 May). If,
however, the feast occurs before Easter, it is celebrated on Easter
Monday, instead. The Russian Orthodox Church also celebrates two
additional feasts in honour of St. George. One is on 3 November,
commemorating the consecration of a cathedral dedicated to him in
Lydda during the reign
Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great (305–37). When the
church was consecrated, the relics of the
Saint George were
transferred there. The other feast is on 26 November for a church
dedicated to him in Kiev, circa 1054.
Saint George's day (Bulgarian: Гергьовден) is
celebrated on 6 May, when it is customary to slaughter and roast a
Saint George's day is also a public holiday.
In Egypt, the
Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Orthodox Church of
Alexandria refers to Saint
George as the "Prince of Martyrs" and celebrates his martyrdom on the
Paremhat of the
Coptic calendar equivalent to 1 May. The Copts
also celebrate the consecration of the first church dedicated to him
on seventh of the month of Hatour of the
Coptic calendar usually
equivalent to 17 November.
In India, the Syro-Malabar
Catholic Church, one of the oriental
catholic churches (Eastern
Catholic Churches)and Malankara orthodox
Saint George. The main pilgrim centers of the saint in
India are at Edathua in
Alappuzha district and
Edappally  in
Ernakulam district of the southern state of Kerala. The saint is
commemorated each year from 27 April to 14 May at
Edathua  On 27
April after the flag hoisting ceremony by the parish priest, the
statue of the saint is taken from one of the altars and placed at the
extension of the church to be venerated by the devotees till 14 May.
The main feast day is 7 May, when the statue of the saint along with
other saints is taken in procession around the church. Intercession to
Saint George of
Edathua is believed to be efficacious in repelling
snakes and in curing mental ailments.The sacred relics of St. George
were brought to
Antioch from Mardeen in A.D.900 and were taken to
Antioch in 1912 by Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril and
kept in the Orthodox seminary at Kundara, Kerala. H.H Mathews II
Catholicos had given the relics to St. George churches at Puthupally,
Kottayam District and Chandanappally, Pathanamthitta district.
Main article: Patronages of
English recruitment poster from World War I, featuring
and the Dragon.
A highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern Christian
churches, a large number of
Patronages of Saint George
Patronages of Saint George exist
throughout the world.
Saint George is the patron saint of England. His cross forms the
national flag of England, and features within the
Union Flag of the
United Kingdom, and other national flags containing the Union Flag,
such as those of
Australia and New Zealand. By the 14th century, the
saint had been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the
Saint George's monument in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The country of Georgia, where devotions to the saint date back to the
fourth century, is not technically named after the saint, but is a
well-attested back-formation of the Greek name. However, a large
number of towns and cities around the world are.
Saint George is one
of the patron Saints of Georgia; the name Georgia (Sakartvelo in
Georgian) is an anglicisation of Gurj, ultimately derived from the
Persian word gurj/gurjān ("wolf"). Chronicles describing the
land as Georgie or Georgia in French and English, date from the early
Middle Ages, as written by the travellers
John Mandeville and Jacques
de Vitry "because of their special reverence for
but these accounts have been seen as folk etymology and are rejected
by the scholarly community.
Exactly 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia are named after
according to the number of days in a year. According to myth, Saint
George was cut into 365 pieces after he fell in battle and every
single piece was spread throughout the entire country.
According to another myth,
Saint George appeared in person during the
Battle of Didgori
Battle of Didgori to support the Georgian victory over the Seljuq army
and the Georgian uprising against Persian rule.
Saint George is
considered by many
Georgians to have special meaning as a symbol of
Malta and Gozo
Saint George is also one of the patron saints of the Mediterranean
Malta and Gozo.  In a battle between the Maltese
and the Moors,
Saint George was alleged to have been seen with Saint
Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese.
Saint George is the
protector of the island of
Gozo and the patron of Gozo's largest city,
Victoria. The St. George's Basilica in Victoria is dedicated to
Saint George in
Portugal date back to the 12th century.
Nuno Álvares Pereira
Nuno Álvares Pereira attributed the victory of the Portuguese in the
battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 to
Saint George. During the reign of
John I of
Saint George became the patron saint
Portugal and the King ordered that the saint's image on the horse
be carried in the Corpus Christi procession. The flag of
(white with red cross) was also carried by the Portuguese troops and
hoisted in the fortresses, during the 15th century. "
Saint George" became the battle cry of the Portuguese troops, being
still today the battle cry of the Portuguese Army, with simply "Saint
George" being the battle cry of the Portuguese Navy.
Saint George is the patron saint of Romania and a
number of churches, towns, and geographical areas are dedicated to
him, including city of
Sfântu Gheorghe in Covasna County, and Sfântu
Gheorghe branch of the river Danube.
Saint George is the patron of
Aragon and Catalonia. These
two autonomous communities were in the past two of the most important
territories belonging to the Crown of Aragon.
Saint George (Aragonese: San Chorche) is the patron of Aragon, one of
the autonomous communities of Spain. This festivity is celebrated on
the 23th of April as “The Day of Aragon”.
Legend says that the
Pedro I of
Aragon started in
1096 the conquest of Huesca, which was
under the rule of the
Taifa in Zaragoza, following the desires of his
father, Sancho I of Aragon. The fight was hard and difficult,
Christian militia trusted totally in God to win the battle. God sent
Saint George, who descended from Heaven riding on a horse, carrying
with him a maroon cross to the battlefield. After seeing God’s
signal, militiamen returned to the battle field with more energy than
ever. The moors could not believe what was happening, they were
defeated, abandoning the battlefield rapidly. After half a year of
being trapped, Pedro I finally entered the city.
To celebrate this victory,
Saint George’s cross was used as the
Huesca and Aragon, honouring his name since he was their
saviour. Nowadays, this cross is still present on Aragon’s shield.
The popular story which is told to school children and other places,
Saint George defeated a dragon, and is celebrated by everybody
throughout the community.
Saint George (Sant Jordi in Catalan) is also the patron saint of
Catalonia. His cross appears in many buildings and local flags,
including the one of the Catalan capital, Barcelona. The Catalan
tradition usually locates the events of his legend in the town of
Montblanc, near Tarragona.
The origins of the worship of
Saint George go back to the Crown of
Aragon, and share the same legend as that of Aragon. By the 15th
century Catalan men used to celebrate
Saint George's Day
Saint George's Day by giving
roses to women. Nowadays
Saint George is not a public holiday anymore
but is a very popular celebration. Women receive roses (and often
books) and, since the 20th century, men receive books (and sometimes
roses) and the celebration is also used to celebrate Catalan national
identity, culture and literature and romantic love.
One of the highest civil distinctions awarded in
Catalonia is the
Saint George's Cross (Creu de Sant Jordi). The
Sant Jordi Awards have
been awarded in
Barcelona since 1957.
Veneration in the Levant
Saint George dragged through the streets (detail), by Bernat
Martorell, 15th century
George is renowned throughout the Middle East, as both saint and
prophet. His veneration by Jews, Christians and Muslims lies in his
composite personality combining several Biblical, Quranic and other
ancient mythical heroes.
William Dalrymple, reviewing the literature in 1999, tells us that J.
E. Hanauer in his 1907 book Folklore of the Holy Land: Muslim,
Christian and Jewish "mentioned a shrine in the village of Beit Jala,
beside Bethlehem, which at the time was frequented by Christians who
regarded it as the birthplace of St. George and by Jews who regarded
it as the burial place of the Prophet Elias. According to Hanauer, in
his day the monastery was "a sort of madhouse. Deranged persons of all
the three faiths are taken thither and chained in the court of the
chapel, where they are kept for forty days on bread and water, the
Eastern Orthodox priest at the head of the establishment now and then
reading the Gospel over them, or administering a whipping as the case
demands.' In the 1920s, according to Taufiq Canaan's Mohammedan
Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine, nothing seemed to have changed,
and all three communities were still visiting the shrine and praying
Dalrymple himself visited the place in 1995. "I asked around in the
Christian Quarter in Jerusalem, and discovered that the place was very
much alive. With all the greatest shrines in the
Christian world to
choose from, it seemed that when the local Arab Christians had a
problem – an illness, or something more complicated: a husband
detained in an Israeli prison camp, for example – they preferred to
seek the intercession of
Saint George in his grubby little shrine at
Beit Jala rather than praying at the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem or the
Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem." He asked
the priest at the shrine "Do you get many Muslims coming here?" The
priest replied, "We get hundreds! Almost as many as the Christian
pilgrims. Often, when I come in here, I find Muslims all over the
floor, in the aisles, up and down."
The Encyclopædia Britannica quotes G.A. Smith in his Historic
Geography of the Holy Land p. 164 saying "The Mahommedans who
usually identify St. George with the prophet Elijah, at Lydda confound
his legend with one about Christ himself. Their name for Antichrist is
Dajjal, and they have a tradition that Jesus will slay Antichrist by
the gate of Lydda. The notion sprang from an ancient bas-relief of
George and the
Dragon on the Lydda church. But Dajjal may be derived,
by a very common confusion between n and l, from Dagon, whose name two
neighbouring villages bear to this day, while one of the gates of
Lydda used to be called the Gate of Dagon."
Veneration in the Muslim world
Saint George is described as a prophetic figure in Islamic
sources. George is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims
because of his composite personality combining several Biblical,
Quranic and other ancient mythical heroes. In some of he is identified
Elijah or Mar Elis, George or Mar Jirjus and in others as
al-Khidr. The last epithet meaning the "green prophet", is common to
Christian and Muslim folk piety.
Samuel Curtiss who visited an
artificial cave dedicated to him where he is identified with Elijah,
reports that childless Muslim women used to visit the shrine to pray
for children. Per tradition, he was brought to his place of martyrdom
in chains, thus priests of Church of St. George chain the sick
especially the mentally ill to a chain for overnight or longer for
healing. This is sought after by both Muslims and Christians.
According to Elizabeth Anne Finn's Home in the Holy land (1866):
St George killed the dragon in this country; and the place is shown
close to Beyroot. Many churches and convents are named after him. The
church at Lydda is dedicated to St. George; so is a convent near
Bethlehem, and another small one just opposite the Jaffa gate, and
others beside. The Arabs believe that St. George can restore mad
people to their senses, and to say a person has been sent to St.
George's is equivalent to saying he has been sent to a madhouse. It is
singular that the Moslem Arabs adopted this veneration for St George,
and send their mad people to be cured by him, as well as the
Christians, but they commonly call him El Khudder—The
Green—according to their favourite manner of using epithets instead
of names. Why he should be called green, however, I cannot
tell—unless it is from the colour of his horse. Gray horses are
called green in Arabic.
The mosque of Nabi Jurjis which was restored by
Timur in the 14th
century, was located in
Mosul and supposedly contained the tomb of
George. It was however destroyed in July 2014 by the Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant, who also destroyed the Mosque of the Prophet
Sheeth (Seth) and the Mosque of the Prophet Younis (Jonah). The
militants claim such mosques have become places for apostasy instead
Hazrat Jurjays was the patron saint of Mosul. Along with
Theodosius, he was revered by both
Christian and Muslim communities of
Jazira and Anatolia. The wall paintings of Kırk Dam Altı Kilise at
Belisırma dedicated to him are dated between 1282-1304. These
painting depicts him as a mounted knight appearing between donors
including a Georgian lady called Thamar and her husband, the Emir and
Consul Basil, while the Seljuk Sultan
Mesud II and
Androncius II are also named in the inscriptions.
Arms and flag
Saint George's Cross
Saint George's cross
It became fashionable in the 15th century, with the full development
of classical heraldry, to provide attributed arms to saints and other
historical characters from the pre-heraldic ages. The widespread
Saint George of the red cross on a white field in
western art - "
Saint George's Cross" probably first arose in Genoa,
which had adopted this image for their flag and George as their patron
saint in the 12th century. A vexillum beati Georgii is mentioned in
the Genovese annals for the year 1198, referring to a red flag with a
Saint George and the dragon. An illumination of this flag
is shown in the annals for the year 1227. The Genoese flag with the
red cross was used alongside this "George's flag", from at least 1218,
and was known as the insignia cruxata comunis Janue ("cross ensign of
the commune of Genoa"). The flag showing the saint himself was the
city's principal war flag, but the flag showing the plain cross was
used alongside it in the 1240s.
Edward III of England
Edward III of England chose
Saint George as the patron saint
of his Order of the Garter, and also took to using a red-on-white
cross in the hoist of his Royal Standard.
The term "
Saint George's cross" was at first associated with any plain
Greek cross touching the edges of the field (not necessarily red on
Thomas Fuller in
1647 spoke of "the plain or St George's
cross" as "the mother of all the others" (that is, the other heraldic
Iconography and models
Byzantine icon of
Saint George, Athens, Greece.
Saint George is most commonly depicted in early icons, mosaics, and
frescos wearing armour contemporary with the depiction, executed in
gilding and silver colour, intended to identify him as a Roman
soldier. Particularly after the
Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople and Saint
George's association with the crusades, he is often portrayed mounted
upon a white horse. Thus, a 2003 Vatican stamp (issued on the
anniversary of the Saint's death) depicts an armoured
atop a white horse, killing the dragon. Eastern Orthodox
iconography also permits
Saint George to ride a black horse, as in a
Russian icon in the British museum collection. This
may also reflect a modern Russian interpretation as depicting not a
killing, but as an internal struggle, against ourselves and the evil
among us. In the south Lebanese village of Mieh Mieh,
Saint George Church for Melkite Catholics commissioned for its
75th jubilee in 2012 (under the guidance of Mgr Sassine Gregoire), the
only icons in the world portraying the whole life of
Saint George, as
well as the scenes of his torture and martyrdom (drawn in eastern
iconographic style).
Saint George may also be portrayed with
Saint Demetrius, another early
soldier saint. When the two saintly warriors are together and mounted
upon horses, they may resemble earthly manifestations of the
archangels Michael and Gabriel. Eastern traditions distinguish the two
Saint George rides a white horse and St. Demetrius a red horse
Saint George can also be identified by his spearing a dragon, whereas
Saint Demetrius may be spearing a human figure, representing Maximian.
During the early second millennium,
Saint George became a model of
chivalry in works of literature, including medieval romances. In the
13th century, Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, compiled the
Legenda Sanctorum, (Readings of the Saints) also known as Legenda
Aurea (the Golden Legend). Its 177 chapters (182 in some editions)
include the story of
Saint George, among many others. After the
invention of the printing press, the book became a bestseller, second
only to the Bible among books published by early English printer
William Caxton (circa 1415-1492).
For equestrian depictions, see
Saint George and the
For a structured gallery, see:
Saint George gallery.
Manuel I Komnenos
Manuel I Komnenos (12th century) showing a bust of Saint
A 12th-century depiction of St George in a church at the Russian
village of Staraya Ladoga
Scenes from the life of
Saint George, Kremikovtsi Monastery, Bulgaria
Saint George as a martyr: St. George's Collegiate Church in Tübingen
A 15th-century battle flag of
Stephen the Great
Stephen the Great of Moldavia
The regimental War Flag of the Hellenic Army.
Svatý Jiří, malby Hejnák .
Saint George dismounted, Greece (19th century)
A plague, on which is represented St.George rescuing the emperor's
daughter (15-th century)
Saint George, Prague Castle
Saint George's Day
"St. George and the Dragon", a 17th-century ballad comparing the myth
Saint George to that of other heroes
Dragon Hill, Uffington, English hill named due to a legend that Saint
George slew the dragon there
Old High German
Old High German poem about the life of Saint
Ederlezi, song and Romani name for the Bulgarian, Macedonian and
Serbian Feast of
Knights of St George
Uastyrdzhi, Ossetian name for
Georgian name for
Moors and Christians of Alcoy, an international historical festival
Saint George in Alcoy (Alicante), Spain.
The Magic Sword, a 1962 film loosely based on the legend of St George
and the Dragon
Patrick Woodroffe, author of several poems about St George collated in
a book called Hallelujah Anyway
St George's Church, churches dedicated to St George
St George's School, schools dedicated to St George
St George's College, colleges dedicated to St George
St George's Castle, castles dedicated to St George
St George's Hospital, hospitals dedicated to St George
^ Foakes-Jackson, FJ (2005), A History of the
Christian Church, Cosimo
Press, p. 461, ISBN 1-59605-452-2 .
^ Ball, Ann (2003), Encyclopedia of
Catholic Devotions and Practices,
p. 568, ISBN 0-87973-910-X .
^ a b "St. George",
^ Thurston, Herbert (1909), "St. George", The
New York: Robert Appleton Company, 6, pp. 453–455
^ Attwater, Donald (1995) . Dictionary of Saints (Third ed.).
London: Penguin Reference. p. 152. His best-known story,
popularized in the later middle ages by the Golden Legend, tells that
he was a knight from Cappadocia, who rescued a maiden princess from a
dragon at Silene in Libya, leading to the
Christianity of much of the
^ Clapton, Edward (1903). The Life of St. George. p. 9. George,
the tutelary saint of England, as well as the special patron of
chivalry, was born in the third century at Lydda in Palestine.
^ Guiley, Rosemary (2001). The Encyclopedia of Saints. p. 129.
ISBN 9781438130262. George was an historical figure. According to
an account by Metaphrastes, he was born in
Cappadocia (in modern
Turkey) to a noble
Christian family; his mother was
Palestinian. ; Maloney, Allison (2010-04-09). St George: Let's
Hear it For England!. The Random House Group Limited.
^ Heylin, A (1862), The Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical
Record, 1, p. 244 . Darch, John H (2006), Saints on Earth,
Church House Press, p. 56, ISBN 978-0-7151-4036-9 .
Walter, Christopher (2003), The Warrior Saints in
Byzantine Art and
Tradition, Ashgate Publishing, p. 112,
ISBN 1-84014-694-X .
^ a b c "St. George",
Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Orthodox Church Network
^ Smith, William (1867), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and
Mythology, Little Brown & Co, p. 249 .
^ Gibbs, Margaret (1971), Saints beyond the White Cliffs, Ayer Press,
p. 2, ISBN 0-8369-8058-1 .
^ Hackwood, Fred (2003), Christ Lore the Legends, Traditions, Myths,
Kessinger Publishing, p. 255, ISBN 0-7661-3656-6 .
^ a b Butler, Alban (2008), Lives of the Saints,
ISBN 1-4375-1281-X .:166
Golden Legend – Life of
Saint George", (translated by William
^ Hogg, John (1863), "Supplemental Notes on St George the Martyr, and
on George the Arian Bishop", Transactions of the Royal Society of
Literature of the United Kingdom, Royal Society of Literature:
^ Spenser, Edmund (1998), Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, Cannon
Press, p. 196, ISBN 978-1-885767-39-4 .
^ Mills, Charles (2012), The History of Chivalry, Longman, Rees,
p. 9 .
^ a b Thurston, Herbert (1913). "St. George". In Herbermann,
Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton
Company. "There seems, therefore, no ground for doubting the
historical existence of St. George, even though he is not commemorated
in the Syrian, or in the primitive Hieronymian Martyrologium, but no
faith can be placed in the attempts that have been made to fill up any
of the details of his history. For example, it is now generally
admitted that St. George cannot safely be identified by the nameless
martyr spoken of by
Eusebius (Church History VIII.5), who tore down
Diocletian's edict of persecution at Nicomedia. The version of the
legend in which
Diocletian appears as persecutor is not primitive.
Diocletian is only a rationalized form of the name Dadianus. Moreover,
the connection of the saint's name with
Nicomedia is inconsistent with
the early cultus at Diospolis. Still less is St. George to be
considered, as suggested by Gibbon, Vetter, and others, a legendary
double of the disreputable bishop, George of Cappadocia, the Arian
opponent of St. Athanasius."
^ Acta Sanctorum, Volume 12, as republished in 1866
^ Church History (Eusebius), book 8, chapter 5; Greek text here, and
English text here. Eusebius's full text as follows:
Immediately on the publication of the decree against the churches in
Nicomedia, a certain man, not obscure but very highly honored with
distinguished temporal dignities, moved with zeal toward God, and
incited with ardent faith, seized the edict as it was posted openly
and publicly, and tore it to pieces as a profane and impious thing;
and this was done while two of the sovereigns were in the same
city,—the oldest of all, and the one who held the fourth place in
the government after him. But this man, first in that place, after
distinguishing himself in such a manner suffered those things which
were likely to follow such daring, and kept his spirit cheerful and
undisturbed till death.
^ Walter, Christopher (2003), The Warrior Saints in
Byzantine Art and
Tradition, Ashgate Publishing, p. 110,
ISBN 1-84014-694-X .
Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca 271,
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "George, Saint". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 737. In
the canon of
Pope Gelasius (494) George is mentioned in a list of
those 'whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are
known only to God'
^ De Voragine, Jacobus (1995), The Golden Legend, Princeton University
Press, p. 238, ISBN 978-0-691-00153-1 .
^ Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
^ Richardson, Robert D; Moser, Barry, eds. (1996), Emerson,
p. 520, George of Cappadocia... [held] the contract to supply the
army with bacon... embraced Arianism... [and was] promoted... to the
episcopal throne of Alexandria... When Julian came, George was dragged
to prison, the prison was burst open by a mob, and George was
lynched... [he] became in good time
Saint George of England .
^ Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Catholic Encyclopedia, it is not improbable that the
apocryphal Acts have borrowed some incidents from the story of the
Arian bishop .
^ Gibbon, Edward (1906). Bury, John Bagnell, ed. The History of the
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. New York, NY: Fred de Fau and
Co. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
^ a b Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler. The A to Z of Prophets in
Islam and Judaism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 313.
^ a b H. S. Haddad (1968). ""Georgic" Cults and Saints of the Levant".
Numen. Brill: 37.
^ Bernard Carra de Vaux. P. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E.
van Donzel; W. P. Heinrichs, eds. Encyclopaedia of Islam. I, Part 2
(Second ed.). Brill. p. 1047.
^ Charles Clermont-Ganneau, "
Saint Georges, d’après un
bas-relief inédit du Louvre". Revue archéologique, 1876
Horus on horseback Louvre Museum Paris". www.louvre.fr.
^ Pringle, Denys (1998), The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of
Jerusalem, Cambridge University Press, p. 25,
ISBN 0-521-39037-0 .
^ Samantha Riches, St. George: Hero, Martyr and Myth (Sutton, 2000),
ISBN 0750924527, p. 19.
^ McClendon 1999:p.6
^ Perrin, British Flags, 1922, p. 38.
Catholic Encyclopedia 1913, s.v. "Orders of St. George" omits Genoa
and Hungary: see
David Scott Fox,
Saint George: The
Saint with Three
Faces (1983:59–63, 98–123), noted by McClellan 999:6 note 13.
Additional Orders of St. George were founded in the eighteenth century
^ McClendon 1999:10.
^ Desiderius Erasmus, in
The Praise of Folly
The Praise of Folly (1509, printed 1511)
remarked "The Christians have now their gigantic St. George, as well
as the pagans had their Hercules."
^ Only the most essential work might be done on a festum duplex
^ Muriel C. McClendon, "A Moveable Feast:
Saint George's Day
Celebrations and Religious Change in Early Modern England" The Journal
of British Studies 38.1 (January 1999:1–27).
^ The Divine Office: Table of Liturgical Days, Section I (RC) and
Calendar, Lectionary and Collects (Church House Publishing 1997) p12
(C of E)
^ B, Sathish (20 March 2008). "St.George forane church
Edathua-689573". Edathuapalli. Sathish B. Retrieved 5 February
^ St:George Church (22 April 2014). "St.George forane church
Edappally". Edappally. St: George Church. Retrieved 5 February
^ "Arrangements for
Edathua church fete". The Hindu. ALAPPUZHA. 3
April 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
^ Seal, Graham (2001), Encyclopedia of folk heroes, p. 85,
ISBN 1-57607-216-9 .
^ Hinds, Kathryn (2001), Medieval England, Marshall Cavendish,
p. 44, ISBN 0-7614-0308-6 .
^ Hock, Hans Henrich; Zgusta, Ladislav (1997). Historical,
Indo-European, and Lexicographical Studies. Walter de Gruyter.
p. 211. ISBN 978-3110128840.
^ a b Mikaberidze, Alexander (2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia
(2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 3.
David Marshall Lang, The Georgians, (New York: Frederick A Praeger,
1966), 17–18. The terms Georgia and
Georgians appeared in Western
Europe in numerous early medieval annals. The French chronicler
Jacques de Vitry
Jacques de Vitry and the English traveller
John Mandeville wrote that
Georgians are called 'Georgian' because they especially revere Saint
^ Gabidzashvili, Enriko (1991),
Saint George: In Ancient Georgian
Literature, Tbilisi, Georgia: Armazi – 89 .
^ Foakes-Jackson, FJ (2005), A History of the
Cosimo, p. 556, ISBN 1-59605-452-2 .
^ Eastmond, Antony (1998), Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia, Penn
State Press, p. 119, ISBN 0-271-01628-0 .
Saint George's Victory order, among other civilian and military
decorations, is one of the highest decorations in Georgia.
^ Vella, George Francis. "St George, the patron saint of Gozo". Times
of Malta. Times of Malta. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
^ "The patron saint and protector of Gozo". Times of Malta. Times of
Malta. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
^ de Bles, Arthur (2004), How to Distinguish the Saints in Art,
p. 86, ISBN 1-4179-0870-X .
^ de Oliveira Marques, AH; André, Vítor; Wyatt, SS (1971), Daily
Portugal in the Late Middle Ages, University of Wisconsin
Press, p. 216, ISBN 0-299-05584-1 .
Romania (2015-04-23). "
Saint George Day: How many Romanians
bear his name? -
Romania Insider. Retrieved
^ gencat.cat: "Catalan Government explains Sant Jordi"
^ a b Religion and Culture in Medieval Islam by Richard G.
Hovannisian, Georges Sabagh 2000 ISBN 0-521-62350-2, Cambridge
University Press pages 109-110
^ Hanauer, JE (1907). "Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian
and Jewish". Retrieved January 18, 2007.
^ a b c William Dalrymple (March 15, 1999). From the Holy Mountain: a
journey among the Christians of the Middle East. Owl Books.
^ "Who is
Saint George?". St. George's Basilica. Retrieved January 17,
^ H. S. Haddad. ""Georgic" Cults and Saints of the Levant".
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "George, Saint". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Elizabeth Anne Finn
Elizabeth Anne Finn (1866). Home in the Holyland. London: James
Nisbet and Co. pp. 46–7. p. 46.
Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places.
I.B. Tauris. p. 525.
^ "Islamic militants destroy historic 14th century mosque in Mosul".
^ Teresa Fitzherbert. "Religious Diversity Under Ilkhanid Rule". In
Linda Komaroff. Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan. Brill.
^ Aldo Ziggioto, "Genova", in Vexilla Italica 1, XX (1993); Aldo
Ziggioto, "Le Bandiere degli Stati Italiani", in Armi Antiche 1994,
cited after Pier Paolo Lugli, 18 July 2000 on Flags of the World.
^ William Woo Seymour, The Cross in Tradition, History and Art, 1898,
^ Fuller, A Supplement tu the Historie of the Holy Warre (
1647, chapter 4.
^ "Vatican stamps". Vaticanstate.va. Archived from the original on
2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ The red pigment may appear black if it has bitumenized.
Brook, E.W., 1925. Acts of
Saint George in series Analecta Gorgiana 8
Burgoyne, Michael H. 1976. A Chronological Index to the Muslim
Monuments of Jerusalem. In The Architecture of Islamic Jerusalem.
Jerusalem: The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.
Gabidzashvili, Enriko. 1991.
Saint George: In Ancient Georgian
Literature. Armazi – 89: Tbilisi, Georgia.
Good, Jonathan, 2009. The Cult of
Saint George in Medieval England
(Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press).
Loomis, C. Grant, 1948. White Magic, An Introduction to the Folklore
Legend (Cambridge: Medieval Society of America)
Natsheh, Yusuf. 2000. "Architectural survey", in Ottoman Jerusalem:
The Living City 1517–1917. Edited by Sylvia Auld and Robert
Hillenbrand (London: Altajir World of Islam Trust) pp 893–899.
Whatley, E. Gordon, editor, with Anne B. Thompson and Robert K.
Upchurch, 2004. St. George and the
Dragon in the South English
Legendary (East Midland Revision, c. 1400) Originally published in
Saints' Lives in Middle English Collections (Kalamazoo, Michigan:
Medieval Institute Publications) (on-line introduction)
Christian Encyclopaedia of India.
Vol.II Trichur – 73.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikisource has the text of The New Student's Reference Work article
St. George and the Dragon, free illustrated book based on 'The Seven
Champions' by Richard Johnson (1596)
Saint George and the
Dragon links and pictures (more than 125), from
Dragons in Art and on the Web
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Saint George and the Boy Scouts, including a woodcut of a Scout on
horseback slaying a dragon
A prayer for St George's Day
St. George and the Dragon: An Introduction
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Dedication of the Church of the Greatmartyr George in Lydia
synaxarion for November 3
Dedication of the Church of the Greatmartyr George at
synaxarion for November 26
Saint George in the church in Plášťovce,(Palást) in Slovakia
The St George Orthodox Military Association
Famous Georgian Pilgrim Center in
India St. George Orthodox Church
Puthuppally, Kerala, India
Hail George Radio webcast explains how
Saint George came to be
confused with some Afro-Brazilian deities
Blog Article on the Feast of
Saint George The feast of
Saint George is
April 23 - About that Dragon...
St. George, Martyr at the
Christian Iconography web site.
Of St. George, Martyr from Caxton's translation of the Golden Legend
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