George Lydda M 15th George of Lydda, was born in Turkey of “Black” Palestinian parentage, he is the “Patron Saint of England.
One of the most famous of Christian figures But little is known of the man himself.
The earliest possible source, Eusebius of Caesarea, writing around 322 AD, tells of? “A ‘man of the greatest distinction”, who was put to death under the Roman Emperor Diocletian at Nicomedia (present-day Palestine) on April 23rd, 303 AD,However this source is unproven to be George.
George is believed to have gone from Cappadocia (in modern Turkey) to his homeland Palestine, and held the important rank of tribune in the Roman army. He was beheaded by Diocletian for protesting against the Emperor’s persecution of Christians.
Some versions identify George as the soldier who tore down the posted proclamation suppressing the Christian religion, Confronting the Emperor to condemn him for requiring soldiers to sacrifice to the pagan gods.
George became a saint in Palestine and was held on equal footing with Moses, Elijah and St.Michael. His cult was adopted as a martyr of bravery, defender of the poor and the defenceless and of the Christian faith.
St George on his white horse came to be regarded as the quintessential Christian soldier, whose protection was increasingly invoked in the Near East as the Christian communities were attacked by the Saracens.
George thus became the patron saint of the Crusades. Armies reported visions of St. George before victorious battles and he became more and more popular.
The first thing anybody thinks about in connection with St. George is dragons. Everybody has heard of “St. George and the dragon” and there are countless “George and Dragon” pubs.
The story of George and the Dragon, which first gained popularity in the 14th century is set in Lybia (or Lydda, depending on which translation you read).
The story tells of dragon was terrorising the local populace who tried to appease it by feeding it all their flocks of sheep. When all the sheep had been eaten, they turned to human sacrifices but even so the beast continued to destroy the countryside.
Finally, it was decided to sacrifice the princess in a last-ditch attempt to buy off the dragon. Fortunately for her, along came St. George on his trusty white charger and duly slew the offending dragon, freeing the princess in the process.
It is said that the story is allegorical, with the dragon representing Satan and the princess representing the Christian church. It does not, however, take a major leap to connect the story of George and the Dragon with the equally well-known myth of Perseus and Andromeda.
Could this be another case of the Church adapting a good pagan story and using it for its own purposes?