Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church

Saint George

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page 54 in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

Saint George
Patron of England and of Boy Scouts
Feast day: April 23
Saint George's symbol: dragon

The Life of the Saint

Saint George is known as the dragon slayer. His pictures show him as a brave knight in battle with a fierce dragon. Sometimes there is a beautiful lady in the picture, too. Saint George is fighting the dragon to protect the lady. Dragons represent wickedness and evil and are said to be fierce, cruel, and greedy for treasure and power. Legends say that dragons have fiery breath, long sharp claws, and wings to swoop down on unsuspecting people. They destroy the countryside and scare away all the people. The beautiful lady shown in the pictures represents God's truth and our Holy Mother Church. Saint George is fighting evil to protect the Church!

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It would be easy to suppose that Saint George is not a real saint because of the way he is usually depicted: dressed as an English knight of the Middle Ages battling a dragon. Often, Saint George is shown brandishing a sword with the dragon's body wrapped around him like a giant constrictor. A castle in the background, complete with a fair maiden wringing her hands on a parapet, finishes off the picture.

But this is all symbolic. Saint George was a real man, a soldier in the early fourth century at the beginning of the Diocletian persecution of Christians. Some accounts say that he was one of the emperor Diocletian's favorites. Other stories say that when Diocletian caused a proclamation against Christians to be printed and posted in Nicomedia, it was George who tore it down, denounced the new law, and publicly proclaimed his faith.

It is certainly known that George was arrested, tried, tortured, and finally executed as a Christian. It is also known that he resisted the demands of the torturers that he deny his faith and worship the Roman gods. Very soon after his martyrdom, many legends sprang up around the true story of George, claiming that he returned to life three times and that wonderful cures and other miracles surrounded him.

Devotion to this saint extends back to the fifth century. If it can be proved that one of the oldest churches in Constantinople dedicated to his name was actually built by Constantine the Great, then devotion to Saint George is even older than that.

Saint George was known and revered in England by the eighth century. A church in Doncaster, England, dedicated to Saint George was built in 1006. His popularity grew under the influence of the Crusades. He is said to have been seen fighting along with the Franks at the battle of Antioch. It is probable that the arms of Saint George were introduced at about the time of Richard Coeur de Lion, perhaps to reinforce the morale and conviction of the Crusaders. The large red Saint George's cross on a white ground is one of the elements in the British flag (called the Union Jack) today, and he is the patron saint of England.

Regardless of how much of his story is true, this much is certain. As a soldier, Saint George understood better than many of the early Christian martyrs just what would happen to him when he proclaimed his faith. He approached this as he must have approached many battles: brave, scared, but determined to acquit himself with honor. We can learn from his example when we face trials, battles, and challenges in our lives today.

We are all called to be soldiers for Christ. Legend or not, dragons or other forms of evil, fair maidens or the purity and truth of the Church, Saint George shows us the way to defend our faith. All soldiers need to know strategy and fighting skills; Saint George was among them. His faith and knowledge will be at our aid if we ask for it, and he will intercede for us to God for help in all our battles.

Proclaiming Your glory, Lord,
we humbly ask
that as Saint George imitated Christ in His Passion
so he may be a ready helper in our weakness.
We make our prayer through our Lord,
who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

Celebrating the Feast Day

During the time of Moorish (Muslim) invasions of Spain (which lasted nearly seven hundred years) the Spanish people recognized Saint George as an ally in their struggle to protect the Catholic Church and their country. He is still revered in that country today and honored at festivals celebrating the defeat of the Moors.

Remember to add prayers asking for the aid and intercession of Saint George to your family prayers. Ask each person to tell of a particular battle in his life (resisting a schoolyard bully or persisting in witnessing in the workplace, for example) and ask for Saint George's guidance in these situations.

Read the life of the saint out loud, either from this book or from the many other excellent lives of the saints available in bookstores, libraries, or on-line. Point out that the dragon is a very old, very enduring symbol of danger and evil. Read chapters 6 and 7, "The Adventures of Eustace" and "How the Adventures Ended", in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from C. S. Lewis' Narnia series, and talk about the dragon in that story.

A popular Spanish and Cuban dish, appropriate both to the Feast of Saint George and Lent, is black beans and rice.

Recipe: Black Beans and Rice



Soak beans overnight (or use quick-soak method: cover beans with water, bring to a boil, then let stand for an hour). Drain.

Partially cook bacon in a large pot (omit if the feast falls on a Friday); add drained beans, onion, and garlic and all seasonings except salt. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, and allow to simmer until beans are tender. This will take about an hour.

The beans should be juicy, but not soupy. If there is too much liquid still, pour some off. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.

Serve over cooked rice. Garnish with a lemon wedge and some chopped tomatoes.

Saint George Prayer

Lord, we acclaim Your might and humbly pray.
Just as Saint George imitated the Lord's Passion,
so let him now come to the aid of our weakness.

Our Father

Our Father Who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary

Hail, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, t
he forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

A Hymn for Saint George

Leader now on earth no longer,
Soldier of th'eternal King,
Victor in the fight for heaven,
We thy loving praises sing.

Great Saint George, our patron, help us,
In the conflict be thou nigh;
Help us in that daily battle,
Where each one must win or die.

Praise him who in deadly battle
Never shrank from foeman's sword,
Proof against all earthly weapon,
Gave his life for Christ the Lord.

Great Saint George, etc..

Who, when earthly war was over,
Fought, but not for earth's renown;
Fought, and won a nobler glory,
Won the martyr's purple crown.

Great Saint George, etc.