Feast of St. George

April 23, 2007

The name George is derived from geos, meaning earth, and orge, meaning to work; hence one who works the earth, namely, his own flesh. Now Augustine writes in his book On the Holy Trinity that good earth is found high on the mountains, in the temperate climate of the hills, and in level ground: the first bears good grass, the second, grapes, and the third, the fruits of the fields. Thus blessed George was on the heights because he disdained base things and so had the fresh green of purity; he was temperate by his prudence and so shared the wine of heavenly joy; he was lowly in his humility and therefore bore the fruits of good works. Or George is derived from gerar, holy, and gyon, sand, therefore, holy sand; for he was like sand, heavy with the weight of his virtues, small by humility, and dry of the lusts of the flesh. Or again, the name comes from gerar, holy, and gyon, struggle; so a holy fighter, because he fought against the dragon and the executioner. Or George comes from gero, pilgrim, gir, cut off, and ys, counselor, for he was a pilgrim in his contempt for the world, cut off by gaining the crown of martyrdom, and a counselor in his preaching of the Kingdom. At the council of Nicea his legend was included among the apocryphal writings because there is no sure record of his martyrdom. In Bede’s Calendar we read that he was martyred in the Persian city of Dyaspolis, which formerly was called Lidda and is near Joppe. Elsewhere we read that he suffered under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, or under the Persian emperor Dacian in the presence of seventy kings of his empire. Or we are told that he was put to death by the prefect Dacian during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian.

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

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