St. George is known as a great Martyr of Jesus Christ in Syriac Orthodox Church. St. George (Died: AD303) was born to a noble Christian mother. The earliest known acts of St. George dates back to early fifth century, written in Greek. These texts exist today only in fragments and are preserved in Vienna. Syriac version of the Acts of George was translated from the original Greek around the middle of the fifth century. The oldest Syriac manuscript of the acts preserved at the British Library (Add. 17205) was written around the year 600AD making it the earliest complete copy of the Acts of St. George.
Syriac version of the Acts of St. George tells the story of the Martyrdom of St. George. According to the Syriac version, King Dadianus (may be wrongly written for Diocletian) under the influence of Satan, wrote letters to his fellow Kings saying, “Since the news has arrived, and it has reached out hearing, that the nations are bowing to him whom Mary had given birth: not to Apollo and Heracles, but to him whom the Jews had scourged with rods and crucified on the cross, I have written to you so that we stamp out this matter which has occurred”. When the Kings received the letters they went and met with King Dadianus who ordered that all kinds of torture instruments be prepared in front of him. No one from those who came in front of the King, dared to say “I am a Christian” out of fear for three months. But George, a devout Christian from Cappadocia, who served with the rank of Tribune, ran to King Dadianus to serve as a Count. When he saw that Christ was insulted and the demons were praised in the presence of the King, he went before him, after giving all the gold and silver he had gained during his work to the needy, and cried “I am a Christian. But your threats, O King are idle. And those who are not gods do not name. Let those gods, who did not make heavens and the earth, perish. I believe in one true God, with His son and his Holy Spirit, one trinity and one God head without division.” King Dadianus then asked George to make an effort to entreat the gods, and to give an offering to them which George denied. King Dadianus then asked him again to sacrifice to the gods. When George refused, King ordered that he be hung on a cross and scraped. After the King saw that George’s parts were loosened, and his blood was running on the ground, he ordered that he be placed on a wheel with nails fixed on it. When George came to the place where the wheel was, he climbed on the wheel and said “O Christ, I put myself into your hands”. His body was cut into ten pieces and thrown into an unused pit. However, George was miraculously recovered from all these torturing and came back to life with the help of Jesus Christ. Even more torturing was done by the King, but George survived each one of them with the help of almighty. King told all these stories of George’s miraculous survival from all the torturing he did, to the Queen Alexandra. Upon hearing all these, she believed in Jesus and she requested the King not to punish George any more. Angry at the queen on supporting George, and believing in Christ, King ordered death sentence to the Queen and she was crowned martyrdom on April 8th. King then ordered George also death sentence and executed him at the same location where the queen was martyred. He was martyred on April 23rd on Friday at the seventh hour.
Most iconographies associate St. George with a Dragon. The dragon however, does not appear in early versions of the acts, including the Syriac version written in AD600. Originally the dragon was just an epithet used of King Dadianus (or Satan) that persecuted Christians. Paintings of St. George usually show the dragon, which appears as a small snake in early paintings and then starts to take on a larger form later, especially in the west. The development of the dragon in iconography may have been influenced by the passages from Revelation 12:7 where Satan is pictured as a dragon.
Acts of St. George and the story of his father by George Kiraz
Acts of Saint George by E. W. Brooks
On April 23, every year, this congregation will be celebrating in remembrance to our patronage St. George.