May 6th is celebrated in Russia as the day of Moscow’s divine patron: George the Victorious. Saint George is depicted on Moscow’ emblem as a horseman, striking a snake with his spear. Both Christians and Muslims honor George the Victorious, who used to be the leader of the Roman army. Muslims call him Jirjis, spreading his legend to many countries of the world, including even Dagestan (Muslims believe that George’s body in buried there).
In Russian folklore, St.George is called Yury the Brave. Russian people consider the great martyr George as the patron of farming and cattle breeding. George the Victorious was one of the most honorable saints in Ancient Russia. The decoration of George the Victorious was of the highest rank in tsarist Russia. Those decorations were produced in the shape of a cross for Christians and an octagon shape for Muslims.
George the Victorious lived in the III century. He was born in Asia Minor, which used to be a part of the powerful Roman empire at that time. George was born to a noble family, he had a spectacular military career, and earned a very high rank. George was tortured brutally for eight days during the reign of Roman emperor Diokletian, when Christians were persecuted. They were trying to make him reject his faith, but the torture was in vain. He was brutally beaten. They poured smelted tin into his throat and placed him on red-hot metal. George survived all those things, but he was eventually beheaded; he was under 30 years of age. The main event that is connected with great martyr George is, of course, his act of saving the daughter of the pagan king of Beirut from the dragon
The Golden Legend relates that, in the lifetime of St. George, a frightful dragon took up residence in a marshy swamp near the city of Silene, in the province of Libya. It devastated the countryside, and all attempts to drive it away failed, because its breath poisoned everyone who approached it. To protect themselves, the citizens provided it with two sheep every day, but the time came when there were no more sheep, and then human victims had to be offered. These were chosen by lot, and eventually the lot fell upon the King’s daughter. The unhappy girl, dressed as a bride, was led to the swamp and left alone to await the monster’s coming. There, St. George found her and at once prepared to defend her. He attacked the dragon as soon as it appeared and, after a fierce fight, defeated it, transfixing it with his lance. He did not kill it, however; instead, he asked the Princess for her girdle, tied it round the creature’s neck, and placed the other end in her hand. By this slender bond, the dreaded monster was led back in triumph to Silene, following her, we are told, "as if it had been a meek beast and debonair."
When the inhabitants of the city saw their mortal enemy approaching, still alive, and bound only by a fragile cord, they were filled with terror, but St. George reassured them and promised to slay the monster if they would embrace the Christian faith. To this, they agreed and, when the dragon was safely dead and its venomous carcass had been removed in four oxcarts, more than fifteen thousand people were baptised on the spot. The grateful King offered gold and treasures to the victor, but he refused to accept any reward and said that it should be given to the poor instead. Then, after adjuring the King to worship God diligently, honour all priests, maintain the churches, and show mercy to the poor, St. George rode away.
This story definitely reminds us of the numerous folklore stories about heroes that fight monsters and defeat them. However, the hero of this story is a great martyr, a young warrior, who was used not his physical might but spiritual power to win.
Moscow has had the image of George the Victorious on its emblem since XIV century, when this image was depicted on the emblem of the Russian empire. George the Victorious is the incarnation of all the military valour and devotion that a human being can have.
Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov