Saint George martyr model of Courage and strength for youth. Patron Against the Plague, Protector of Homes.
by Dom Gueranger, 1897
Clad in his bright coat of mail, mounted on his warsteed, and spearing the dragon with his lance,--George, the intrepid champion of our Risen Jesus, comes gladdening us today with his Feast. From the East,--where he is known as The great Martyr,--devotion to St. George soon spread in the Western Church, and our Christian Armies have always loved and honored him as one of their dearest Patrons. His martyrdom took place in Paschal Time; and thus, he stands before us as the Guardian of the glorious Sepulcher, just as Stephen, the Protomartyr, watches near the Crib of the Infant God.
Devotion to St. George dates from a very early period. St. Gregory of Tours gives us several proofs of its having taken root in Gaul. St. Clotilde had a singular confidence to the holy Martyr, and dedicated to him the Church of her dear Abbey of Chelles. But this devotion became more general and more fervent during the Crusades, when the Christian armies witnessed the veneration in which St. George was held by the Eastern Church, and heard the wonderful things that were told of his protection on the field of battle. The Byzantine historians have recorded several remarkable instances of the kind; and the Crusaders returned to their respective countries publishing their own experience of the victories gained through the Saint's intercession. The Republic of Genoa chose him for its Patron; and Venice honored him as its special Protector, after St. Mark. But nowhere was St. George so enthusiastically loved as in England. Not only was it decreed in a Council held at Oxford, in the year 1222, that the Feast of the Great Martyr should be observed as one of Obligation; not only was devotion to the valiant Soldier of Christ encouraged, throughout Great Britain, by the first Norman Kings;--but there are documents anterior to the invasion of William the Conqueror, which prove that St. George was invoked as the special Patron of England even so far back as the 9th century. Edward III. did but express the sentiment of the country when he put the Order of the Garter, which he instituted in 1330, under the patronage of the Warrior Saint. In Germany, King Frederic III. founded the Order of St. George in the year 1468.
HYMN: (Die XXIII Aprilis.)
Faithful friend of Christ,--Prince of his soldiers,--most brilliant luminary of earth,--star of fairest light,--watchful guardian of such as honor thee! be thou our guardian, O Martyr George.
Blessed George! we celebrate thy combat, whereby thou didst destroy the idols, and bring to nought the manifold errors that were spread by the demons, O most glorious Martyr of Christ.
Thou hast been made a member of the heavenly army, O Blessed George! Thou now contemplates, as far as may be, the Divine Nature. Vouchsafe to protect all us who venerate thee.
Out of ardent love for Christ, his King,--who gave his life for the world's salvation,--the great Soldier George longed to suffer death for his sake. He delivered himself up, for his heart was inflamed with divine zeal. Let us, therefore, full of faith, celebrate his praise in our hymns, as our earnest defender, as the glorious servant of Christ, as the faithful imitator of his Lord, as he that is ever beseeching God to grant to us the forgiveness and pardon of our sins.
The angelic host is in admiration at thy combat, O thou Prince of Warriors! The very King of Angels, struck with admiration, desired thy beauty, O martyr!--therefore did he deign to make thee his companion for ever in his kingdom.
Imitating thy Lord, O Martyr, thou cheerfully and willingly deliverest thyself up to the battle. Thou didst gain the victory, and didst merit to become the guardian of the Church of Christ, which thou unceasingly defendest and protectest.
As the invincible Martyr,--as the prize-bearing victor,--as the unconquerable defender of the faith,--be now an impregnable tower to them that celebrate thy praise, O wise George! and protect them from all dangers by thy intercession.
Decked with a brilliant crown, beautified with a royal diadem and scepter, and clad in a purple robe reddened with thy blood, thou, O happy Martyr, now reignest in heaven with the King of the angelic hosts.
Come, all ye people, let us celebrate in festive song the bright and glorious Resurrection of the Lord; let us also festively celebrate the bright memory of George the Martyr: let us crown him, as the invincible soldier, with the flowers of Spring ; that by his prayers, we may deserve to be freed from tribulation and sin.
Spring is come; let us exult with joy: the Resurrection of Christ hath shone upon us; let us rejoice in gladness: the Feast of the prize-bearing Martyr George hath appeared, gladdening the Faithful with its brightness; come, then, let us, who love his Feast, celebrate it with our spiritual canticles. For, like a brave Soldier, George stood with manly courage before the tyrants, and covered them with confusion, being an imitator of the Passion of our Savior Jesus Christ. He had no pity on the clayey vessel of his body, but wholly transformed it by delivering it to torments, as brass is melted by fire. Thus, then, let us cry out unto him: O prize-bearing Martyr! beseech God that he save our souls.
Thou, O George, art the glorious type of a Christian Soldier. Whilst serving under an earthly Monarch, thou didst not forget thy duty to the King of heaven. Thou didst shed thy blood for the faith of Christ; and he, in return, appointed thee Protector of Christian Armies. Be their defender in battle, and bless with victory them that fight in a just cause. Protect them under the shadow of thy standard; cover them with thy shield; make them the terror of their enemies. Our Lord is the God of Hosts; and he frequently uses War as the instrument of his designs, both of justice and mercy. They alone win true victory, who have heaven on their side; and these, when on the battle-field, seem to the world to be doing the work of man, whereas it is the work of God they are furthering. Hence are they more generous, because more religious, than other men. The sacrifices they have to make, and the dangers they have to face, teach them unselfishness. What wonder, then, that Soldiers have given so many Martyrs to the Church!
But there is another warfare, in which we Christians are all enlisted, and of which St. Paul speaks, when he says: Labour as a good Soldier of Christ; for no man is crowned save he that striveth lawfully (II. Tim. ii. 5.). That we have thus to strive and fight during our life, the same Apostle assures us of it in these words: Take unto you the Armor of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the Breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In all things taking the Shield of Faith, wherewith ye may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the Helmet of the hope of salvation, and the Sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. vi. 13, 17). We, then, are Soldiers, as thou wast, O holy Martyr! Before ascending into heaven, our divine Leader wishes to review his troops; do thou present us to him. He has loaded us with honors, notwithstanding our past disloyalties; we must, henceforth, prove ourselves worthy of our position. In the Paschal Communion which we have received, we have a pledge of victory; how can we ever be so base, as to permit ourselves to be conquered! Watch over us, O sainted Warrior! Let thy prayers and example encourage us to fight against the dragon of hell. He dreads the Armor we wear; for it is Jesus himself that prepared it for us, and tempered it in his own precious Blood: oh! that, like thee, we may present it to him whole and entire, when he calls us to our eternal rest.
There was a time, when the whole Christian world loved and honored thy memory with enthusiastic joy: but now, alas! this devotion has grown cold, and thy Feast passes by unnoticed by thousands. O holy Martyr! avenge this ingratitude, by imitating thy divine King, who maketh his sun to rise upon both good and bad;--take pity on this world, perverted as it is by false doctrines, and tormented at this very time by the most terrible scourges. Have compassion on thy dear England, which has been seduced by the Dragon of hell, and by him made the instrument for effecting his plots against the Lord and his Christ. Take up thy Spear, as of old; give the Monster battle, and emancipate the Isle of Saints from his slavish yoke. Heaven and earth join in this great prayer;--in the name of our Risen Jesus, aid thine own, and once devoted people, to a glorious resurrection!
Novena to St. George
Almighty and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul.
Prayer in Honor of St. George
O God, who didst grant to St. George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith; we beseech Thee to preserve, through his intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt, so that we may serve Thee with a sincere heart faithfully unto death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invocation of St. George
Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, St. George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end.
My Lord and my God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.
Prayer to St. George as your Patron Saint
Saint George, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.
Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world.
Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen
Hymn: Deus, tuorum militum
O God, of those that fought Thy fight,
Portion, and prize, and crown of light,
Break every bond of sin and shame
As now we praise Thy Martyr's name.
He recked not of the world's allure,
But sin and pomp of sin forswore:
Knew all their gall, and passed them by,
And reached the throne prepared on high.
Bravely the course of pain he ran,
And bare his torments as a man:
For love of Thee his blood outpoured,
And thus obtained the great reward.
With humble voice and suppliant word
We pray Thee therefore, holy Lord,
While we thy Martyr's feast-day keep,
Forgive Thy loved and erring sheep.
All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee,
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete. Amen
The Fourteen Holy Helpers' intercession was first invoked in Germany during the Black Death, also known as the 14th century plague.