April 23rd is still St George’s feast day!
St George was a man who did something so amazing that people have been talking about him for over 1,600 years, and stories with rich mythological symbolism have been crafted about him in several cultures. But what did he do? Did he really slay a dragon and rescue a princess?
Metaphorically speaking, yes he did.
George was a Greek Christian during the time of the Roman Empire, born around 280 AD, from the Kappadokia region of Anatolia, which is in Turkey today (the Turks invaded about a thousand years later). He achieved a good rank in the army, part of the emperor’s guard, but was eventually persecuted for his Christian faith by the Emperor Diocletian.
Because of his status in the military, he was bribed with money, land, anything he wanted, if he would give up Christ and worship the wooden and stone false idols of the Roman gods.
Which would we choose today?
Well, George knew the gospel by heart, like every Christian of his day; the material things of the world are passing away, and our passions for them are vanity and vapour. Only the living God of scripture is ultimately real, and every soul will stand naked before Him in eternity, either having embraced Him freely, or having freely rejected Him.
So, George picked up his cross, which is like a sword against evil, defied his emperor and Earthly temptations, those roaring dragons, and chose a martyr’s death by old school, drawn out, public torture in a Roman arena.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
In doing so, he inspired the Roman Empress Alexandra to convert, and she was later martyred in her turn.
He didn’t save the princess in a mundane, temporary way; he helped to save Alexandra’s soul.
And there’s the heart of St George’s message, which has guided our nation for centuries: you are an immortal soul, made in God’s image, not only a body. If you love and fear God above all else, then no tyrant can use your own physical pain and death as a tool to control you, and thus rob you of your free will.
“do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”
As a result of their deaths, people were so convicted by the gospel that they converted to Christianity in their tens of thousands, and the Roman Empire would have its first Christian Emperor within decades of the martyrdom of Alexandra and George.
That’s who our patron Saint is, and we raise a toast to Consett and all the other Christian regions or communities that claim St George and celebrate his feast day: Georgia, Ethiopia, Catalonia, Brazil, Russia, Palestine, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro!