Saint George or Saint George the Winner as we often name him (died 23 April 303) is one of the most respectful Russian Saints, the patron of Moscow & Russia since the time of Prince Yuri Dolgor’ukij (the Long-Armed) (1099-1157). The solemn Icon depicting a dragon killing is a canonic image of the Saint. As a rule he is worshipped as a great warrior, protector against enemies & the evil.
The Greek Orthodox sources made by Symeon the Metaphrast say that Saint George was born in Cappadocia. As his parents were rich & his father was a warrior, young Saint George followed his path & due to his highest qualities the Emperor Diocletian (244-311). His mother died when he was only twenty. He stayed at the Imperial court hoping to make a fortune but when the Christian prosecutions began he gave his richness to the poor & declared himself a Christian before Diocletian. Instantly he was imprisoned & tortured badly.
They say about 7 days of tortures:
- 1 day he was driven into the dungeon with lances & one of them was broken.
- 2 day he was tortured with a wheel & the Angel appeared. Saint George saluted him, while the Angel heeled his wounds.
- 3 day he was thrown into a pitch with hot ashes but he did not hurt himself.
- 4 day his bones were broken but he was healed in a day.
- 5 day he had to run in hot iron boots with sharp nails inside. He prayed all the night long afterwards & was healed again.
- 6 day he was scourged but did not suffer.
- 7 day he had to drink two goblets with poisonous substances: the first had to make him mad, the second had to kill him. And even this did not work.
In despair the Emperor Diocletian persuaded the Saint to make his final choice: to renounce the Christian faith or to die. Saint George did not give up & was sentenced to decapitation. The last night of his terrestrial life he dreamt with Christ holding a golden wreath for him. The Saviour said he would find himself in Paradise soon. So, Saint George ordered to be brought to the Temple of Apollo where by means of prayers he destroyed the idols. His act was so powerful that even the Empress Alexandra of Rome recognized him as a Saint.
Saint George is a special Saint for Russia as he is believed to be protector of our lands against enemies. His image is connected with wars, peace, lands & cattle. They say he has two other symbolic names popular in our folklore: Yuri & Egorij the Brave. Legends often retell a famous story about a dragon & other adventures of a brave warrior. In the old Russia April 23 & November 26 were considered his feast day. They were linked with peasants.