St. George, Martyr
About the Year 303.
ST. GEORGE is honoured in the Catholic church as one of the most illustrious martyrs of Christ. The Greeks have long distinguished him by the title of The Great Martyr, and keep his festival a holiday of obligation. There stood formerly in Constantinople five or six churches dedicated in his honour; the oldest of which was always said to have been built by Constantine the Great; who seems also to have been the founder of the church of St. George, which stood over his tomb in Palestine. Both these churches were certainly built under the first Christian emperors. In the middle of the sixth age the Emperor Justinian erected a new church, in honour of this saint, at Bizanes, in Lesser Armenia: the Emperor Mauritius founded one in Constantinople. It is related in the life of St. Theodorus of Siceon, that he served God a long while in a chapel which bore the name of St. George, had a particular devotion to this glorious martyr, and strongly recommended the same to Mauritius, when he foretold him the empire. One of the churches of St. George in Constantinople, called Manganes, with a monastery adjoining, gave to the Hellespont the name of the Arm of St. George. To this day is St. George honoured as principal patron or tutelar saint by several eastern nations, particularly the Georgians. The Byzantine historians relate several battles to have been gained, and other miracles wrought through his intercession. From frequent pilgrimages to his church and tomb in Palestine, performed by those who visited the Holy Land, his veneration was much propagated over the West. St. Gregory of Tours mentions him as highly celebrated in France in the sixth century. 1 St. Gregory the Great ordered an old church of St. George, which was fallen to decay, to be repaired. 2 His office is found in the sacramentary of that pope, and many others. 3 St. Clotildis, wife of Clovis, the first Christian king of France, erected altars under his name; and the church of Chelles, built by her, was originally dedicated in his honour. The ancient life of Droctovæus mentions, that certain relics of St. George were placed in the church of St. Vincent, now called St. Germaris, in Paris, when it was first consecrated. Fortunatus of Poitiers wrote an epigram on a church of St. George, in Mentz. The intercession of this saint was implored especially in battles, and by warriors, as appears by several instances in the Byzantine history, and he is said to have been himself a great soldier. He is at this day the tutelar saint of the republic of Genoa; and was chosen by our ancestors in the same quality under our first Norman kings. The great national council, held at Oxford in 1222, commanded his feast to be kept a holiday of the lesser rank throughout all England. 4 Under his name and ensign was instituted by our victorious King Edward III. in 1330, the most noble Order of knighthood in Europe, consisting of twenty-five knights, besides the sovereign. Its establishment is dated fifty years before the knights of St. Michael were instituted in France, by Lewis XI., eighty years before the Order of the Golden Fleece, established by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy; and one hundred and ninety before the Order of St. Andrew was set up in Scotland by James V. The Emperor Frederick IV. instituted, in 1470, an Order of knights in honour of St. George; and an honourable military Order in Venice bears his name. 5 1 Continue reading