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Re: "Saint George": The Pork Salesman Who Became England's P

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:08 am
by admin
Order of the British Empire



The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions, in order of seniority:

• Knight or Dame Grand Cross (G.B.E.)
• Knight or Dame Commander (K.B.E. or D.B.E.)
• Commander (C.B.E.)
• Officer (O.B.E.)
• Member (M.B.E.)

Only the two highest ranks are knightly. There is also a related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are not members of the Order, but which is affiliated with the Order nonetheless.

The Order's motto is For God and the Empire. It is the most junior of the British orders of chivalry and has more members than any other.


King George V founded the Order to fill gaps in the British honours system: The Most Honourable Order of the Bath honoured only senior military officers and civil servants, The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George honoured diplomats and the Royal Victorian Order honoured those who had personally served the Royal Family. In particular, King George V wished to honour the many thousands of people who served in numerous non-combatant capacities during the First World War. Originally, the Order included only one division; soon after its foundation, in 1918, it was formally divided into Military and Civil Divisions. The Order has been used to honour not only British citizens, but also citizens of other Commonwealth nations. During the Second World War, the Order of the British Empire was also awarded to senior military officers of allied nations, such as General George S. Patton


The British Sovereign is the Sovereign of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order (by convention, on the advice of the Government). The next-most senior member is the Grand Master. The current Grand Master is HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

The Order is limited to 100 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 845 Knights and Dames Commanders, and 8960 Commanders. There are no limits on the total number of members of the fourth and fifth classes, but no more than 858 Officers and 1464 Members may be appointed per year. Appointments are made on the advice of the governments of the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth nations. By convention, female judges of the High Court of England and Wales are created Dames Commanders after appointment. Male judges, however, are created Knights Bachelor.

Most members belong to the United Kingdom or to Commonwealth nations. Citizens of other countries, however, may be admitted as "honorary members." They do not count towards the numerical limits aforementioned, nor are they addressed as "Sir." (They may be made full members if they subsequently become British citizens.) Notable foreign members of the Order have included Pelé, Bob Geldof, Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Alan Greenspan, Steven Spielberg and Wesley Clark (all Knights Commanders).

At the foundation of the Order, the "Medal of the Order of the British Empire" was instituted. In 1922, it was renamed the "British Empire Medal." Recipients, who are not members of the Order itself, are grouped into the Civil and Military Divisions. Only junior government and military officials are awarded the medal; senior officials are directly appointed to the Order of the British Empire. The United Kingdom's Government has not recommended the awarding of the medal since 1992, though some Commonwealth nations continue the practice.

The Order has six officials: the Prelate, the Dean, the Secretary, the Registrar, the King of Arms and the Usher. The Bishop of London, the most senior bishop in the Church of England, serves as the Order's Prelate. The Dean of St Paul's is ex officio the Dean of the Order. The Order's King of Arms is not a member of the College of Arms, like many other heraldic officers. The Usher of the Order is known as the Gentleman Usher of the Purple Rod; he does not, unlike his Order of the Garter equivalent (the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod), perform any duties related to the House of Lords.

Vestments and accoutrements

Members of the Order wear elaborate costumes on important occasions (such as quadrennial services and coronations), which vary by rank (the designs underwent major changes in 1937):

• The mantle, worn only by Knights and Dames Grand Cross, was originally made of purple satin lined with white silk, but is now made of rose pink satin lined with pearl grey silk. On the left side is a representation of the star (see below).
• The collar, also worn only by Knights and Dames Grand Cross, is made of gold. It consists of six medallions depicting the Royal Arms, alternating with six medallions depicting the Royal and Imperial Cypher of George V ("GRI," which stands for "Georgivs Rex Imperator"). The medallions are linked with gold cables depicting lions and crowns.

At less important occasions, simpler insignia are used:

• The star is an eight-pointed silver star used only by Knights and Dames Grand Cross and Knights and Dames Commanders. It is worn pinned to the left breast. The Star, which varies in size depending on class, bears a crimson circle bearing the motto of the Order. Within the circle, a figure of Britannia was originally shown. Since 1937, however, the effigies of George V and his wife Queen Mary have been shown instead.
• The badge is the only insignia used by all members of the Order. Knights and Dames Grand Cross wear it on a rose pink and pearl grey (until 1937 plain purple) sash, passing from the right shoulder to the left hip. Male Knights Commanders and Commanders wear the badge from a ribbon around the neck; male Officers and Members wear the badge on a chest ribbon; all females (other than Dames Grand Cross) wear it on a bow on the left shoulder. The badge is in the form of a cross patonce, the obverse of which bears the same field the star (that is, either Britannia or George V and Queen Mary); the reverse bears George V's Royal and Imperial Cypher. The size of the badges varies by rank: the higher classes have slightly larger badges. The badges of Knights and Dames Grand Cross, Knights and Dames Commanders and Commanders are pale blue enamelled; those of Officers are gold; those of Members are silver.
• In 1957, it was decided that any individual made a member of the Order for gallantry could wear an emblem of two crossed silver oak leaves on the same riband, ribbon or bow as the badge. Since 1974, however, appointments for gallantry have not been made; instead, a separate Queen's Gallantry Medal has been awarded.
• The British Empire Medal is made of silver. On the obverse is an image of Britannia surrounded by the motto, with the words "For Merituous Service" at the botom; on the reverse is George V's Imperial and Royal Cypher, with the words "Instituted by King George V" at the bottom. The name of the recipient is engraved on the rim.

On certain "collar days" designated by the Sovereign, members attending formal events may wear the Order's collar over their military uniform or evening wear. When collars are worn (either on collar days or on formal occasions such as coronations), the badge is suspended from the collar. Collars are returned upon the death of their owners, but other insignia may be retained.


The chapel of the order is in the far eastern end of the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, but it holds its great services upstairs in the main body of the cathedral. (The Cathedral also serves as the home of the chapel of The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George.) Religious services for the whole Order are held quadrennially; new Knights and Dames Grand Cross are installed at these services. The chapel was dedicated in 1969.

Precedence and privileges

Members of all classes of the Order are assigned positions in the order of precedence. Wives of male members of all classes also feature on the order of precedence, as do sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders; relatives of Ladies of the Order, however, are not assigned any special precedence. (As a general rule, individuals can derive precedence from their fathers or husbands, but not from their mothers or wives.) (See order of precedence in England and Wales for the exact positions.)

Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders prefix "Sir," and Dames Grand Cross and Dames Commanders prefix "Dame," to their forenames. Wives of Knights may prefix "Lady" to their surnames, but no equivalent privilege exists for husbands of Dames. Such forms are not used by peers and princes, except when the names of the former are written out in their fullest forms. Furthermore, honorary members and clergymen do not use the accolade of knighthood.

Knights and Dames Grand Cross use the post-nominal "GBE," Knights Commanders "KBE," Dames Commanders "DBE," Commanders "CBE," Officers "OBE" and Members "MBE." The post-nominal for the British Empire Medal is "BEM."

Knights and Dames Grand Cross are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters. They may, furthermore, enircle their arms with a depiction of the circlet (a circle bearing the motto) and the collar; the former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. Knights and Dames Commanders and Commanders may display the circlet, but not the collar, surrounding their arms. The badge is depicted suspended from the collar or circlet.

Re: "Saint George": The Pork Salesman Who Became England's P

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:12 am
by admin
The Origin of the Cult of St. George
by David Woods
Copyright © 2002, David Woods.



A fifth-century manuscript in Vienna preserves fragments of the passion of St. George and is the oldest evidence of any type for his cult since the so-called Decretum Gelasianum, which purports to have been composed by Pope Gelasius (AD492-94) and includes the passion of St. George among the apocryphal works whose reading is prohibited, was probably composed in sixth-century Gaul.1 Other than this manuscript, the oldest literary evidence for the cult of St. George consists of a brief notice by an otherwise unknown Theodosius in his topography of the Holy Land which he apparently composed during the reign of Anastasius I (AD491-518). He records the existence of a shrine to St. George at the town of Diospolis, also called Lydda, where he had been both martyred and buried. The oldest epigraphic evidence consists of a Greek inscription from Zorava, or Ezra, in the late Roman province of Arabia, dating to AD515.2 The inscription in Sakkaia, also called Maximianopolis, which records the construction of a church of St. George by a certain bishop Tiberinus in the year 263 computes its date using its own local era beginning in AD286 (the acclamation of Herculius Maximianus as Caesar) rather than the provincial era beginning in AD105, so the construction actually occurred in AD549 rather than in AD368 as had once been thought.3 Similarly, an inscription recording the name of St. George was found in a small temple at Caesarea Eitha in Arabia also. Since this inscription is in the same style as the dedicatory inscription of a nearby church to St. Sergius, and this church was dedicated in the year 249, then, according to the era of Maximianopolis once more, this inscription probably dates c.AD535.4

The contents of the earliest surviving passion of St. George reveal it to be a complete fiction of no historical merit whatsoever. It claims that St. George suffered death under an otherwise unknown Persian emperor by the name of Dadianus following a bizarre sequence of tortures and miraculous recoveries. Although it is tempting to try and understand this name as a corrupt form of that of such well-known emperors as Diocletianus (AD285-305) or Maximinus Daia (AD305-13), this would not help matters.The fact that bishop Eusebius of Caesarea does not mention the trial and execution of a George at Diospolis in the Martyrs of Palestine which he first wrote in AD311, then revised in AD313, suffices to prove that George did not die during the so-called "Great Persecution".5 The fact that Eusebius of Caesarea reveals no knowledge of any martyr in Palestine by the name of George provides a terminus postquam of AD313 for the development of his cult, while the inscription from Zorava provides a a firm terminus antequam of AD515. Something occurred during the period AD313-515 to lead to a belief that a martyr by the name of George had been buried at Diospolis. The passion was then invented as a result of popular demand for the story of this hitherto unrecognised martyr. But what was it that sparked this belief that a martyr by the name of George had been buried at Diospolis?

The obvious explanation for such a belief is that someone had identified the grave of a certain George at Diospolis as that of a martyr. Now, this could have happened as a result of a dream or because someone believed that they had received a cure as a result of visiting this grave. Strictly speaking, though, the name of this "martyr" might well be as fictitious as everything else that his early passion claims for him. One thinks, for example, of the manner in which the bodies of the alleged martyrs Gervasius and Protasius of Milan were identified as such and their names "remembered".6 There is an alternative explanation, however, and that is that the burial place of a certain George at Diospolis had always been identified as that of a martyr. In the context of the period AD313-515, this suggests that we should seek to identify this George as a victim of the persecutions of Christianity by either of the emperors Licinius (AD308-24) in AD322-24 or Julian (AD360-63) in AD362-63. No George is known to have suffered under Licinius, but bishop George of Alexandria was one of the more famous victims of the persecutions under Julian. Writing c.AD390, the pagan Latin historian Ammianus Marcellinus preserves a detailed account of the murder of George on 24 December AD361 (22.11.3-10):

The whole population went wild with joy at this at this unexpected piece of good news [the execution of Artemius]. They fell upon George, howling and yelling, beat him about, trampled upon him, and finally spread-eagled him and finished him off. Dracontius, the superintendent of the mint, and a certain Diodorus, who was thought to be in league with him, had ropes tied to their legs and were killed at the same time. ..... Not content with this, the brutal mob loaded the mutilated bodies on camels and took them to the beach, where they burned them and threw their ashes into the sea, for fear that the remains might be collected and have a church built over them. This had happened in other cases, when men persecuted for their religion endured torture till they met a glorious death with their faith unspotted, and are now called martyrs. The wretched victims of these cruel sufferings might have been saved by the help of their fellow-Christians had not the whole population been inflamed by univeral hatred of George.7

The importance of this account is that the predominantly pagan mob who killed George realized that his own supporters, so-called 'Arian' or 'semi-Arian' Christians, would almost certainly hail him as a martyr and try and recover some portion of his remains in order to venerate them and build a shrine over them. Hence the great pains they took to dispose of his remains. Indeed, other sources claims that the mob burned animals along with George, obviously in order to make the correct identification of any charred remains or ashes that much more doubtful.8 Now, while Ammianus' account of the disposal of George's body makes it difficult to believe that any part of it could have been recovered, it is important to note that Ammianus may intend us to believe exactly that. He is a polemical anti-Christian writer and it may well be that his emphasis here upon the complete disposal of the remains of George was intended as a deliberate attack upon a continued veneration of George in his own day.9 As to our other sources for the death of George, they belong to rival theological factions and may be similarly motivated to exaggerate the efficiency of the disposal of his remains.10 It is important to note, moreover, that the Arians did not necessarily have to recover all of George's remains in order to deposit these and make them the centre of a new shrine. A handful of ashes or bone fragments would have done the trick. Finally, writing c.AD402, Rufinus of Aquileia preserves an account of the desecration and partial-recovery of the alleged remains of St. John the Baptist under the emperor Julian also which perfectly illustrates how some of George's supporters may have recovered some portion of his ashes or bones (HE 11.2:

In Julian's time the ferocity of the pagans sprang forth in all its savagery, as though the reins had gone slack. Thus it happened that in Sebaste, a city of Palestine, they frenziedly attacked the tomb of John the Baptist with murderous hands and set about scattering the bones, gathering them again, burning them, mixing the holy ashes with dust, and scattering them through the fields and countryside. But by God's providence it happened that some men from Jerusalem, from the monastery of Philip, the man of God, arrived there at the same time in order to pray. When they saw the enormity being perpetrated by human hands at the service of bestial spirits, they mixed with those gathering the bones for burning, since they considered dying preferable to being polluted by such a sin, carefully and reverently collected them, as far as they could in the circumstances, then slipped away from the others, to their amazement or fury, and brought the sacred relics to the pious father Philip.11

It is my argument, therefore, that some supporters of George did manage to infiltrate the crowd that killed him and smuggle away a part of his remains at least. The next question, therefore, is what they did with these remains. Such was the strength of support for bishop Athanasius, the orthodox rival of George for the see of Alexandria, within that city, that it seems scarcely credible that they would have attempted to deposit these remains in or near Alexandria itself or anywhere within Egypt even. Nothing is more certain, though, than that they would have attempted to construct a shrine about them somewhere. This is reinforced by the fact that the eastern emperor Valens (AD364-7 was an 'Arian' Christian also. Now, it is not clear why anyone should have brought George's remains to Diospolis in Palestine in particular, since George seems to have originated from Cappadocia.12 It may be assumed that this was a matter of convenience only, that it happened to be the hometown of those who managed to acquire his relics. The important point here is that many of George's theological allies came from towns not far from Diospolis in the same province of Palestina Prima, and that his faction was particularly strong in this region, doubtless due to the support of the local metropolitan, bishop Acacius of Caesarea.13 Furthermore, while we cannot say who was the bishop of Diospolis at this point in time c.362, we do know that bishop Aetius of Diospolis had been among the earliest supporters of Arius himself and to that extent, therefore, it seems likely that the Christian community at Diospolis was more likely to have been dominated by 'Arians' rather than orthodox Christians.14 It is arguable, therefore, that the reason that the remains of George of Alexandria ended up in that part of Palaestina Prima that they did, rather than in any other province, was that this was the region nearest to Egypt where his theological allies predominated.


It may be objected at this point that it is difficult to envisage how the 'heretical' George of Alexandria could have been transformed into an orthodox saint, how a bishop could have been transformed into a soldier. While it is impossible to pinpoint exactly when during the period c.AD363-515 either of these changes occurred, that such changes could and did occur is well proven by the transformation of the cult of other saints during roughly the same period. For example, while dux Aegypti a certain Artemius had persecuted the orthodox church in Egypt in accordance with the 'Arian' policy pursued by the emperor Constantius II (AD337-61).15 He then suffered martyrdom under the emperor Julian at Antioch in AD362. Despite his service as an enforcer of the religious policy of a heretical emperor, and the fact that it must have been the Arian church who first promoted his cult during the reign of the emperor Valens, he seems to have been accepted by the orthodox church as an orthodox saint by the middle of the fifth-century.16 Admittedly, such a transformation would have been far more difficult in the case of a heretical bishop, but only if memory of his identity had been properly preserved at his cult-site. One must envisage the slow disappearance of his cult during the resurgence of the orthodox church under the emperor Theodosius I (AD379-95) to the point that all genuine memory of his identity was lost and his shrine fell into disrepair, only for some chance event then to reinvigorate the reputation of his shrine as a place of cures and other miracles, exactly as happened to the shrine of St. Demetrius at Thessalonica when a praetorian prefect of Illyricum by the name of Leontius received a miraculous cure there c.AD412.17 The stage was then set for the creation of a fictitious passion as popular demand for information about this all but forgotten martyr grew. At most, an inscription or inscriptions at the shrine may have preserved some brief facts about which the passion was created. This would explain the preservation of George of Alexandria's name, but it may also explain his transformation into a military saint in particular. George had served in the civil-service at Constantinople, in the administration of the pork-supply apparently, at a time when the same broad terms were used to describe service (militia) in either of the strictly military or civilian sides of the imperial administration.18 Indeed, it has been even argued that, since the urban administration at Constantinople was based on that at Rome, he should probably be identified as the tribunus fori suarii at Constantinople.19 It is arguable, therefore, that the decision to transform George into a military saint may have been based on a fragmentary or brief description of him at his shrine as a martyr and former tribune or someone who had previously been employed in the service of the state (militia).

This is not the first time that St. George of Diospolis has been identified with the heretical bishop George of Alexandria. For example, in the second volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which was published in 1781, Edward Gibbon wrote concerning bishop George of Alexandria:

The odious stranger, disguising every circumstance of time and place, assumed the mask of a martyr, a saint and a Christian hero; and the infamous George of Cappadocia has been transformed into the renowned St. George of England, the patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the garter.20

If Gibbon was right, however, it was for the wrong reasons. In a footnote to the above-quoted passage in his main text, he proceeds to claim of the oldest surviving passion of St. George:

... and, through a cloud of fiction, we may yet distinguish the combat which St. George of Cappadocia sustained, in the presence of Queen Alexandra, against the magician Athanasius.

This makes it clear that Gibbon's argument is based on the coincidence between some names in the passion of St. George and the names of central characters or locations in the life of the historical bishop George of Alexandria. The name of the magician against whom St. George competed, then defeated and converted, is identical to that of bishop Athanasius of Alexandria (AD328-73), his orthodox rival for the see against whom bishop George had fought c.AD357-61. Similarly, the name of Queen Alexandra is reminiscent of the city, Alexandria, over which bishops George and Athanasius had fought. To this one might add that the name of one of the junior kings who put St. George to the test, Magnentius, is that of a western usurper AD350-53. However, the passion of St. George contains as many names again which cannot be explained in reference to the known facts of the life of bishop George. These are the names of the emperor Dadianus himself, of Anatolius, one of his generals, of Scholastica, a woman whose ox he resurrected from the dead, and of Tranquillinus, another junior king. It is not clear, therefore, that any significance at all should be attached to the occurrence of the names of Athanasius, Alexandra, and Magnentius in the passion. On the contrary, the oldest passion of St. George re-echoes many of the themes present in the oldest versions of the passion of St. Christopher, another military martyr, to the extent that one suspects that its original author used a passion of St. Christopher as the starting point for much of his fiction rather than any account of the life and times of either of the rival bishops of Alexandria, George and Athanasius.



1. These fragments, from a palimpsest (Cod. Vindob. lat. 954) have been edited by Karl Krumbacher, Der heilige Georg in der griechischen Überlieferung (Munich, 1911), 1-3. The standard edition of the Latin text of the Decretum Gelasianum, together with an English translation, is available online.

2. W.K. Prentice (ed.), Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900. Part III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions (New York, 1908), no. 437a. See Frank Trombley, Hellenic Religion and Christianization c.370-529, 2 vols. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995), for the full context of this and of the other inscriptions mentioned here. Writing c.AD690, bishop John of Nikiu claims that when Christians expelled the Jews from Alexandria following inter-communal violence in AD412, they converted their synagogues into churches and named one after St. George (Chron. 84.97). See Robert H. Charles, The Chronicle of John Coptic Bishop of Nikiu (London, 1916), 102. While one does not doubt that there was indeed a church of St. George in Alexandria at the time at which John was writing and that it may well have been a synagogue once, one may question whether it necessarily received the same name that it bore c.AD690 as early as c.AD412.

3. W.D. Waddington, Recueil des inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris, 1870), no. 2158. The date 368 can be found in older literature, e.g. Hippolyte Delehaye, Les légendes grecques des saints militaires (Paris; Picard, 1909), 48. On the era of Maximianopolis, see now J. Koder and M. Restle, ‘Die Ära von Sakkaia (Maximianopolis) in Arabia’, Jahrbuch der össtereichischen Byzantinistik 42 (1992), 79-81.

4. Waddington (n. 3), no. 2126. On the shrine to St. Sergius at Eitha, see Elizabeth Key Fowden, The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius between Rome and Iran (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 105-7.

5. On this text, see Timothy D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1981), 148-63.

6. See Neil McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 209-19.

7. Trans. Walter Hamilton, Ammianus Marcellinus: The Later Roman Empire (AD354-378) (Harmondsworth: Peguin Classics, 1986), 247.

8. Epiphanius, Panarion 76.1.2; Socrates, HE 3.2.10; Chronicon Paschale s.a.362. It is suspicious that none of these sources support Ammianus' claim that the charred remains of St. George were thrown into the sea afterwards.

9. See Timothy D. Barnes, Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality (CSCPh 56; Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 79-94.

10. Writing c.AD376, bishop Epiphanius of Salamis thinks it necessary to explain at length why George was not to be honoured as a martyr, a sure sign that some were according him exactly that status by this date (Panarion 76.1.3-. This apparent knowledge of a growing cult of St. George is all the more interesting in that Epiphanius had been the superior of a monastery at Eleutheropolis, not far from Diospolis, at the time of his election as bishop of Constantia c.AD366.

11. Trans. Philip R. Amidon, The Church History of Rufinus of Aquileia: Books 10 and 11 (New York; Oxford University Press, 1997), 85.

12. There is some dispute about this matter since Ammianus Marcellinus states that George came from Epiphania in the province of Cilicia Secunda (22.11.4) while bishops Athanasius of Alexandria (De Synodis 37.1; Hist. Arian. 75.1) and Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. 21.16) describe him as a Cappadocian.

13. The best evidence for the theological allies of George of Alexandria lies in the list of those who signed a creed with him at the council of Seleucia in 359 (Epiphanius, Panarion 73.26), 42 bishops in addition to himself. Signatories included bishops Acacius of Caesarea, Eutychius of Eleutheropolis, Eusebius of Sebaste, Charisius of Azotus, and Elisha of Diocletianopolis - so revealing the strength of the Arians in the coastal strip within which Diospolis lay.

14. Theodoret, HE 1.4, 20.

15. See David Woods, ‘The Final Commission of Artemius the Former Dux Aegypti’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 23 (1999), 2-24.

16. Theodoret, HE 3.14.1. In general, see Virgil S. Crisafulli and John W. Nesbitt, The Miracles of St. Artemios (MM 13; Leiden: Brill, 1997).

17. See David Woods, ‘Thessalonica's Patron: Saint Demetrius or Emeterius?’, Harvard Theological Review 93 (2000), 221-34; also James Constantine Skedros, Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki: Civic Patron and Divine Protector 4th-7th Centuries CE (HTS 47; Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1999), esp. 29-39.

18. On George's early imperial career, see Athanasius, Hist. Arian. 75; Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 21.6.

19. See Thomas A. Kopecek, A History of Neo-Arianism I (PM 8; Cambridge, Mass. 1979), 142-44.

20. David Womersley (ed.), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (London: Allen Lane, 1994), 903.

Re: "Saint George": The Pork Salesman Who Became England's P

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:14 am
by admin
The Ethiopic Miracles of St. George
by David Woods



[Warning: The following text is my English translation of the modern Latin translation by V. Arras, Miraculorum S. Georgii Megalomartyris Collectio Altera (Scriptores Aethiopici 32: Louvain, 1953) of the original Ethiopic text which he published as Scriptores Aethiopici 31. As the translation of a translation, therefore, it must lose many important nuances, but it may serve some practical use as a guide to the contents of the Ethiopic texts in the absence of a direct English translation of the same.]

The 15th miracle of St. George. May the prayer and blessing of this distinguished martyr forever attend his beloved Habta Giyorgis. Amen. And when all the inhabitants of the land of Egypt heard the numerous miracles which St. George the martyr of Christ was effecting in his chapel in the town of Beba, they came there by river and by land-journey, Christians and unbelievers from every region, bearing votive gifts and presents with them; and those who were able to come, came to that place; and those who were journeying by ship, but were not able to enter, used to throw lamps and incense on the path over the desert; and everyone used bring the things found there and give them to the archpriest. And there was a certain man journeying by ship, and his ship was not hurrying its course, [but] neither was he able to enter the shrine; he immediately tied together many lamps and threw them a long distance onto the river-bank. Afterwards, a certain unbeliever from among the men of the town came and took up the things found there and brought them to the church; and he brought many goods besides to the church of St. George. May his prayer and blessing forever attend his beloved Habta Giyorgis. Amen.

The 16th miracle of St. George. May his prayer always attend his beloved Habta Giyorgis. And a certain unbeliever from among the inhabitants of the town of Beba went to the region of Elzaz in order to visit the temple in the town of Mecca; and it is said that the devil and his allies descended from heaven in that region. He went also in order to visit the grave of a false prophet in the town of Athribis. When he had completed his visit, he returned with his companions. As he travelled, he became separated and was slow to follow his companions on the journey and was left alone in the desert. As soon as he had lost them, he lamented bitterly because that desert is a parched place and there is neither tree nor water there. And he then implored the false prophet and his companions, but found no-one to help him. He then cried out, saying, "O St. George, my neighbour, help me quickly." And the martyr George appeared to him, sitting on a white horse, and taking his hand he set him on the horse with himself; and the same moment he brought him to the town of Beba, as if in the blink of an eye, and set him down and left him among the palms outside the town; and that journey along which St. George had brought him is one of three months' duration. When this man saw this, how he had arrived at his city, he was terrified and lost unconscious; but afterwards, when his consciousness had returned to him, he got up and went home. Moreover, when the inhabitants of the city saw him, they wondered and said to him, "Who is it who brought you back from a far-distant land before everyone returns ?" And he told them all the things which St. George had done for him; and they were amazed at his words. And there was a clay vessel like an ostrich-egg which he had brought back from Mecca. Seeing this clay vessel, he went to that church of St. George and gave it to the archpriest; and he made known to him all the things which the martyr had done for him and how he had brought him back from a far distant region as if in the blink of an eye. And he asked him to hang that clay vessel in the church that it might commemorate this miracle in the the future. And the archpriest hung it above the ambo, which is a lofty place where the sacred books are read, in sight of the picture of St. George. And I, entering that shrine, saw that clay egg suspended there; and I called the archpriest and said to him, "How have they hung that clay vessel in this church ? For this egg is not made except in the city of Mecca, and unbelievers have brought it from there and hung it in the church." However, he told me this miracle which St. George had worked for that unbeliever and how he had brought him back from the region of Elzaz and saved him from death. And they hung up that clay vessel in commemoration of that miracle. And I, when I had heard these things, praised the Lord who works miracles through His saints. May the prayer of this George forever attend his beloved Habta Giyorgis. Amen.

The 17th miracle of St. George. May his prayer and blessing and powerful aid attend forever upon his beloved Habta Giyorgis. And there was a certain unbeliever in that town called Beba. And one day he entered into the shrine of St. George in order to mock him and his church, and said, "O George, I have a problem, and if you fulfil my request, I will give you this egg full of olive oil." After this he departed and went home. That night St. George came to him as he was lying at home and, greatly annoyed, stabbed him with the spear which he had in his hand. And waking up from his sleep, he saw before him a man sitting on a white horse, and in his hand a spear. He was terrified with great fear and, stretched out before him, said to him, "Who are you, my Lord ?" He replied to him, "I am George. Where is the egg-shell full of oil which you promised that you would give to me ?" And having said this, he disappeared from him. On the following day, however, [the unbeliever] took a large amount of olive-oil and went to the shrine of St. George and gave it to the archpriest; and he told him how he had seen the martyr and how he had spoken to him and asked him to carry out his promise. And he was saved. And he reported that miracle to all the inhabitants of the city; and they wondered and feared greatly. May the prayer of this St. George attend forever upon his beloved Habta Giyorgis. Amen.

The 20th miracle of the victorious martyr St. George. May his prayer and blessing attend forever upon his beloved Habta Giyorgis. There was a certain wicked man in the town of Beba; he was an unbeliever and the commander there. And he hated the martyr and his church, and he use blaspheme against and mock him, and he hated all the faithful. All people in this shrine suffered great misery because of him and everyday they begged the martyr to destroy him. And after many days the martyr heard their prayer. For the governor came unexpectedly to Sahidi, which is a part of Egypt, and held an assembly there on the bank of the river next to the shrine of the martyr St. George. And he summoned the archpriest and questioned him concerning the wicked deeds which this commander had committed against the church of the martyr and all the faithful. And he told he everything which he had done. Then he summoned that man, did not question him at all, but ordered [his men] to cut off his head and hang his body on the palm tree next to the church of St. George so that all men going along that way might see him. And all the Christians, seeing this, praised the Lord, most high and deserving of praise, and his holy martyr St. George who had received their prayer. This miracle, indeed, the archpriest of this town and shrine told to me. May the prayer and blessing of this powerful martyr St. George, the wrestler, attend at all time forever upon his beloved Habta Giyorgis. Amen.

The 21st miracle of the martyr St. George. May his assistance forever attend upon his beloved Habta Giyorgis. I will tell you another miracle also which the martyr St. George wondrously worked in another church of his which was built for him there; for the faithful of the land of Egypt, on account of their excessive love for him, built many monasteries and churches for him in their land. And there was a town in the land of Egypt whose name was Qu'arzom, which means Palace of Assenbly; but they also call it Qwastat Mesr which means Boundary of Egypt. Artaxerxes, the king of Persia who is called Chosroes, built a temple to the fire in that town when he came into the land of Egypt because he worshipped fire. The lord and father Patriarch of the Egyptians dwells there in the great church of Our Lady the Mother of God which is called Ma'alqa which means Hanging. There is also in this town a church of the martyr St. George which is called Dorbenteqa which means Gate of the Just. And I, [although] unworthy, was trained in priestly service in that shrine from my youth. And a certain man from among the nobles of Egypt was archpriest in that church; and he was also one of my relatives. (And he had a large house next to the entrance of the shrine). He wanted to set marble-work beneath the image of Our Lady and the image of St. George; and the word rekwam means marble. There was no-one skilled in marble-work among the Christians, except only a Mohammedan. This [type of ] work is famous because it is done with a great mass of marble; and they insert seashells in it, and they import these seashells from the Red Sea, and pearls are found in them. When they finish marble-work with seashell, it is extremely beautiful and the heart of the viewer rejoices. For this reason, this man decided to himself to adorn the church with this [type of] work; and on account of this work he summoned a certain Mohammedan man, with his son, who were skilled in this [type of] work; and he gave to them multi-coloured marble and as many shells as were needed, and he ordered them to construct this work beneath the two images which we mentioned previously. And when they entered the church in order to complete the work which had been entrusted to them, the son of the Mohammedan saw the light of the lamp which burns throughout the day before the image of St. George.And greatly angered, he exstinguished the light; but it shone as before. And he exstinguished this light again, and it shone as previously; and he exstinguished it for a third time, and spat upon the image of the martyr; and he looked at the light and found it shining as in the beginning. Then he left it, and remained in order to finish his work. At the end of the day, he took his payment, with his father, and they went home. However, that night St. George appeared to this evil son of the unbeliever and roused him from his sleep. And then he saw him sitting on a white horse with a spear in his hand; and he was terrified with great fear. And St. George said to him, "I am he whose lamp you thrice exstinguished and upon whose image you spat." And he immediately stabbed his side with his spear. And he suddenly shouted out in a great voice. And his father and mother woke up and said to him, "Why did you shout ?" And he replied to them, "George himself, whose lamp I exstinguished and upon whose image I spat today, came to me and stabbed my side." He showed them the spot on his side, and then he suddenly died. On the following day, at the height of morning, his father went weeping to the archpriest and told him all the things that his son had done the day before in the church of St. George, and how St. George had appeared to him and had stabbed him with his spear and he had died. The archpriest was greatly astonished; and he told to all the sons of the shrine all the things which this unbeliever said; and they glorified the Lord, most high and deserving of praise, who works miracles through the hands of his martyr St. George. May his prayer and blessing attend forever upon his beloved Habta Giyorgis. Amen.

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The Greek Miracles of St. George
by David Woods



[The miracles will be numbered according to their ennumeration in J. Aufhauser (ed.), Miracula S. Georgii (Leipzig, 1913).]

Miracle 6

The following translation is taken from Daniel J. Sahas, "What an Infidel Saw that a Faithful Did Not: Gregory Dekapolites (d. 842) and Islam", Greek Orthodox Theological Review 31 (1986), 47-67, by kind permission of the author. It is based on the text at PG 100, cols. 1201-12. It purports to describe how a "Saracen", i.e. a Muslim, noble was converted to Christianity following a vision he experienced in a church dedicated to St. George. J. Aufhauser (ed.), Miracula S. Georgii (Leipzig, 1913), 64-89, contains this and two other versions of the same story, with serious discrepancies between the various versions as to the location of this incident and the name of the author. All seem to derive from an incident in the life of the genuine convert and martyr St. Anthony Ruwah who was martyred under the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (786-809) on Christmas Day 799, as does another of the miracles attributed to St. George. See Ignace Dick, "La Passion arabe de S. Antoine Ruwah, néo-martyr de Damas (Ý 25 déc. 799)", Le Muséon 74 (1961), 109-133. Anthony saw a vision of a white lamb and dove during a celebration of the eucharist, not the slaughter of a child, and this took place in a church of St. Theodore, not of St. George, at Damascus.


Nicholas, the strategos, called Joulas, has related to me that in his town, which the Saracens call in their language "Vineyard", the Emir of Syria sent his nephew to administer some works [p. 52] under construction in the said castle. In that place there is also a big church, old and splendid, dedicated to Saint, the most glorious martyr, George. When the Saracen saw the church from a distance he ordered his servants to bring his belongings and the camels themselves, twelve of them, inside the church so that he may be able to supervise them from a high place as they were fed.

As for the priests of that venerable church, they pleaded with him saying: "Master, do not do such things; this is a church of God. Do not show disrespect towards it and do not bring the camels inside the holy altar of God."But the Saracen, who was pitiless and stubborn, did not want even to listen to the pleas of the presbyters. Instead he said to his servants, in Arabic: "Do you not do what you have been commanded to do ?" Immediately his servants did as he commanded them. But suddenly the camels, as they were led into the church, all, by the command of God, fell down [p. 53] dead. When the Saracen saw the extraordinary miracle he became ecstatic and ordered his servants to take away the dead camels and throw them away from the church; and they did so.

As it was a holiday on that day and the time for the Divine Liturgy was approaching, the priest who was to start the holy service of preparation of the gifts was very much afraid of the Saracen; how could he start the bloodless sacrifice in front of him ! Another priest, co-communicant to him, said to the priest who was to celebrate the Liturgy: "Do not be afraid. Did you not see the extraordinary miracle ? Why are you hesitant ?" Thus the said priest, without fear, started the holy service of offering.

[p. 54] The Saracen noticed all these and waited to see what the priest was going to do. The priest began the holy service of offering and took the loaf of bread to prepare the holy sacrifice. But the Saracen saw that the priest took in his hand a child which he slaughtered, drained the blood inside the cup, cut the body into pieces, and placed them on the tray !

As the Saracen saw these things he became furious with anger and, enraged at the priest, he wanted to kill him. When the time of the Great Entrance approached, the Saracen saw again, and more manifestly, the child cut into four pieces on the tray, his blood in the cup. He became again ecstatic with rage. Towards the end of the Divine Liturgy, as some of the Christians wanted to receive the holy communion and as the priest said, "With the fear of God and faith draw near," all the Christians bent their [p. 55] heads in reverence. Some of them went forward to receive the holy sacrament. Again, for a third time, the Saracen saw that the priest, with a spoon, was offering to the communicants from the body and the blood of the child. The repentant Christians received the holy sacrament. But the Saracen saw that they had received communion from the body and the blood of the child, and at that he became filled with anger and rage against everybody.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy the priest distributed the antidoron to all Christians. He then took off his priestly vestments and offered to the Srracen a piece from the bread. But he said in Arabic: "What is this ?" The priest answered: "Master, it is from the bread from which we celebrated the liturgy."And the Saracen said angrily: "Did you celebrate the Liturgy from that, you dog, impure, dirty, and killer ? Didn't I see that you took and slaughtered a child, and that you poured his blood into the cup, and mutilated his body and placed on the plate members of his, here and there ? Didn't I see all these, you polluted one and killer ? Didn't I see you eating and drinking from the body and blood of the child, and that you even offered the same to the attendants ? They now have in their mouths pieces of flesh dripping blood."

And the Saracen said: "Is this not what I saw ?" And the priest: "Yes, my Lord, this is how it is; but myself, being a sinner, I am not able to see such a mystery, but only bread and wine as a figuration of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, even the great and marvellous Fathers, the stars and teachers of the Church, like the divine Basil the Great, and the memorable Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian, were unable to see this awesome and terrifying mystery. How can I see it ?"

When the Saracen heard this he became ecstatic and he ordered his servants and everybody who was inside to leave the church. He then took the priest by the hand and said: "As I see and as I have heard, great is the faith of the Christians. So, if you so will, Father, baptize me. And the priest said to the Sarracen: "Master, we believe in and we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to the world for our salvation. We also believe in the Holy Trinity, the consubstantial and undivided one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the one Godhead. We believe also in Mary, the ever-virgin mother of light, who has given birth to the fruit of life, our pre-announced Lord, Jesus Christ. She was virgin before, virgin during, and virgin after giving birth. We believe also that all the holy apostles, prophets, martyrs, saints, and righteous men are servants of God. Do you not realize, therefore, my master, that the greatest faith is that of the Orthodox Christians ?"

And the Saracen said again: "I beg you, Father, baptize me." But the priest answered: "Far from that. I cannot do such a thing; for if I do and your nephew the Emir hears of that, he will kill me and destry this church, too. But if it is, indeed, your wish to be baptized, go to that place in the Sinai mountain. There, there is the bishop; he will baptize you."

The Saracen prostrated himself in fromt of the presbyter and walked out of the church. Then, one hour after nightfall, he came back to the priest, took off his royal golden clothes, put on a poor sack of wool, and he left in secret by night. He walked to Mount Sinai and there he received the holy baptism from the bishop. He also learned from the Psalter, and he recited verses from it every day.

One day three years later he [the former Saracen] said to the bishop: "Forgive me, Master, what am I supposed to do in order to see Christ ?" And the bishop said: "Pray with the right faith and one of these days you will see Christ, according to your wish." But the former Saracen said again: "Master, give me your consent to go to the priest who offered me instruction when I saw the awesome vision in the church of the most glorious martyr George." The bishop said: "Go, in peace."

Thus, he went to the priest, prostrated himself in front of him, embraced him and said to him: "Do you know, Father, who I am ?" And the priest: "How can I recognize a man whom I have never seen before ?" But, again, the former Saracen said: "Am I not the nephew of the Emir, who brought the camels inside the church and they all died, and who during the Divine Liturgy saw that terrifying vision ?" When the priest looked at him he was amazed and praised God seeing that the former Arab wolf had become a most calm sheep of Christ. He embraced him with passion and invited him to his cell to eat bread.

And the former Saracen said: "Forgive me, Master and Father, but I want and have a desire to see Christ. How can I do that ?" And the priest said: "If you wish to see Christ go to your nephew and preach Christ to him. Curse and anathematize the faith of the Saracens and their false prophet Muhammad and preach correctly the true faith of the Christians without fear, and thus you will see Christ."

The former Saracen left in earnest. By night he was knocking at the door of the Saracen forcefully. The guards at the gate of the house of the Emir asked: "Who is yelling and knocking at the door ?" And he answered: "I am the nephew of the Emir who left some time ago and was lost. Now I want to see my nephew and tell him something." The guards of the gate conveyed this to the Saracen immediately: "Master, it is your nephew who left some time ago and was lost." The Emir, heaving a sigh, said: "Where is he ?" They said: "At the gate of the palace." He then ordered his servants to go and meet him with lights and candles. They all did as the king, Emir, commanded and they took the monk, the former Saracen, by the hand and presented him to the Emir, his nephew.

When the Emir saw him, he was very glad. He embraced him with tears in his eyes and said to him: "What is this ? Where were you living all this time ? Aren't you my nephew ?" And the monk said: "Don't you recognize me, your nephew ? Now, as you see, by the Grace of God the Most High I have become a Christian and a monk. I have been living in desert places so that I may inherit [p. 60] the Kingdom of Heaven. I hope in the unspeakable compassion of the All-sovereign God to inherit his kingdom. Why are you hesitating yourself, too, Emir ? Receive the holy baptism of the Orthodox Christians in order to inherit eternal life, as I hope to do."

The Emir laughed, scratched his head and said: "What are you chattering about, you miserable one; what are you chattering ? What has happened to you ? Alas, you pitiful one ! How did you abandon your life and the sceptres of reign and roam around as a beggar, dressed in these filthy clothes made of hair ?"

The monk responded to him: "By the grace of God. As far as all the things I used to have when I was a Saracen, these were [material] property and were of the devil. But these things that you see me wearing are a glory and pride, and an engagement with the future and eternal life. I anathematize the religion of the Saracens and their false prophet."

Then the Emir said: "Take him out, for he does not know what he is chattering about." They took him away and put him in a place in the palace where they gave him food and drink. And he spent three days there, but he took neither food nor drink. He was praying to God earnestly and with faith. Going down to his knees he said: "O Lord, I have hoped in thee, let me never be ashamed, neither let my enemies laugh at me to scorn." And again: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions." And again: "Enlighten my eyes, Lord God, that I may not fall asleep into death; that my enemy may never say, 'I have overpowered him'. 'Strengthen my heart, O Lord,' so that I may be able to fight the visible deceiver, the Saracen; so that the evil devil may not stamp on me and make me fear death, for your holy name." He then made the sign of the cross and said: "The Lord is my enlightenment and my saviour. Whom shall I fear ? The Lord is the protector of my life. From whom will I hesitate ?" And again he cried out to the Emir: "Receive holy baptism in order to gain the immeasurable kingdom of God."

Again the Emir gave orders for him to be brought in front of him. He had prepared for him clothes exceedingly beautiful. And [p. 61] the Emir spoke: "Enjoy, you pitiful one, enjoy and rejoice for being a king. Do not disdain your life and your youth which is so beautiful, walking instead mindlessly like a beggar and a penniless one. Alas, you pitiful one. What do you think ?"

The monk laughed and replied to the Emir: "Do not weep at what I have in mind. I am thinking how to be able to fulfil the work of my Christ and that of the Father priest who has sent me, and has been my teacher. As for the clothes you have prepared for me, sell them and give the money to the poor. You, too, should abandon the temporary sceptres of the reign, so that you may receive sceptres of an eternal life. Do not rest your hope on things of the present but on things which are of the future, and do not believe in the pseudo-prophet Muhammad, the impure, the detestable one, the son of hell. Believe, rather, in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the crucified one. Believe that the one Godhead is a consubstantial Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a Trinity of the same essence, and undivided."

The Emir laughed again and said to the officials who had gathered in the palace: "This man is mindless. What shall we do with him ? Take him out and expel him." Those, however, sitting by the king said: "He meant to desecrate and corrupt the religion of the Saracens. Do you not hear how he curses anathematizes our great prophet ?"

The monk and former Saracen cried out loudly: "I feel sorry for you Emir because you, unfortunate one, do not want to be saved. Believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, the crucified one, and anathematize the religion of the Saracens and their false prophet, as I did."

And the Saracen Emir said: "Take him out as I am ordering you. He is mindless and does not know what he is talking about."

Those sitting by with him said: "Well, you heard that he anathematized the religion of the Saracens and that he is blaspheming against the great prophet, and you say, 'He does not know what he is talking about' ? If you do not have him killed we will also go and become Christians."

And the Emir said: "I cannot have him killed because he is my nephew and I feel sorry for him. But you take him and do as you please."

And they got hold of the monk with great anger, they dragged him out of the palace and submitted him to many tortures [p. 62] to try to make him return to the previous religion of the Saracens. But he did not. Instead he was teaching everybody in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to believe and be saved.

The Saracens dragged him out of the city, and there they stoned him to death this most pious monk, whose name was Pachomios.

On that night a star came down from heaven and rested on top of the most pious martyr, and everybody was able to see it for forty days; and many of them became believers.

With the prayers of the most blessed martyr, of the all-pure Mother of God Mary, who is ever-virgin, and of all of the saints; for the remission of our sins. Amen.