St. George (Georgios) which means “worker of the land” was born around 280 AD and died on April 23, 303. He was known as a defender of the persecuted Christians and died as one himself. Although there are several noted events from history around this great figure, there is a lot of speculation on what is fact or just legend. Pope Gelasius accurately pronounced that St. George was part of those saints, “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God.”
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The Life of St. George
When George was only 14 years old, his father Gerontios died. Just a few years later, his mother Polychronia also passed away. This caused him to travel to Nicomedia and beseech Emperor Diocletian for work as a soldier. He was accepted warmly due to his father’s legacy of being one of his best fighters. Before he was in his 30s, George was advanced in rank to Tribunus and sent as a royal guard for the Emperor at Nicomedia.
February 24, 303 AD, Emperor Diocletian was persuaded by Galerius to proclaim an order to arrest every soldier that was Christian. All the others were to make sacrifices to the Roman gods. George bravely stood up for his beliefs and confronted Diocletian. The Emperor was unhappy and did not want to lose his most favored tribune. However, George had publicly defied the order in the sight of his comrades and revealed that he was also a believer in Jesus Christ. Despite bribery to recall his words, St. George stood firm.
Diocletian was firm in sticking to his decree and condemned George to death for his rebellion. Before he was martyred, George donated all he had to the needy. His beheading did not occur until after several different sessions of torture.
Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, who was a pagan priest, were witnesses to his sufferings and converted to Christianity from his example. They were then also martyred.
The bravery of his actions in defending his faith and standing up for Christians made him a time honored figure for people all over. England, in particular, has him as their patron saint and display his emblem of a red cross on a white background as their flag. This was partially started by Richard The Lion Heart, who had used it in England during the 12th century. That symbol was worn on the tunics of the King’s soldiers during battle to prevent confusion.