St George Healing Oil
St George was a soldier of Palestinian and Greek. He was a member of the Praetorian Guard for Diocletian. George was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. He became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity. He was especially venerated by the Crusades.
As one of the most prominent military saints, he is immortalised in the legend of St George and the Dragon. His memorial, St George’s Day, is traditionally celebrated on 23 April in England,
The core of the legend is that George was a Roman officer of Greek descent. He was martyred in one of the pre-Constantinian persecutions. Beyond this, early sources give conflicting information.
“Revered among but known only to God”
The earliest text preserving fragments of George’s narrative is in Greek. Pope Gelasius I stated that George was among those saints “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God.”
In the Greek tradition, George was born to Greek Christian parents, in Cappadocia. His father died for the faith when George was fourteen, and his mother returned with George to her homeland of Syria Palaestina. A few years later, his mother died. George travels to the capital Nicomedia and joins the Roman army. George is persecuted by one Dadianus. In later versions of the Greek legend, this name is rationalized to Diocletian. George’s martyrdom is placed in the Diocletian persecution of AD 303
George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on 23 April 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra of Rome to become a Christian as well. She joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.
St George and the Dragon
The legend of St George and the Dragon is first recorded in the 11th century, in a Georgian source. It reaches Europe in the 12th century. In the Golde Legend, by 13th-century Archbishop of Genoa, George’s death is at the hands of Dacian, and about the year 287.
The Golden Legend offered a historicised narration of George’s encounter with a dragon. This account was very influential, and it remains the most familiar version in English owing to William Caxton’s 15th-century translation.
In the medieval romances, the lance with which Saint George slew the dragon was called Ascalon. In Sweden, the princess rescued by Saint George is held to represent the kingdom of Sweden, while the dragon represents an invading army. Several sculptures of Saint George battling the dragon can be found in Stockholm. Iconography of the horseman with spear overcoming evil was widespread throughout the Christian period.
George is included in some Muslim texts as a prophetic figure. The Islamic sources state that he lived among a group of believers who were in direct contact with last apostles of Jesus. He is described as a rich merchant who opposed erection of Appolo’s statue by Mosul’s king Dadan. After confronting the king, George was tortured many times to no effect. He was imprisoned and was aided by the angels. Eventually, he exposed that the idols were possessed by Satan. He was martyred when the city was destroyed by God in a rain of fire.
Muslim scholars had tried to find a historical connection of the saint due to his popularity. According to Muslim legend, he was martyred under the rule of Diocletian and was killed three times but resurrected every time. The legend is more developed in the Persian version , wherein he resurrects the dead, makes trees sprout and pillars bear flowers. After one of his deaths, the world is covered by darkness and is lifted only when he is resurrected. He is able to convert the queen but she is put to death. He then prays to God to allow him to die which is granted.