George, M; Adalbert, B & M

+John 10:1-10

I am the gate of the sheepfold

Jesus said:

‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’

Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.

So Jesus spoke to them again:

‘I tell you most solemnly,

I am the gate of the sheepfold.

All others who have come

are thieves and brigands;

but the sheep took no notice of them.

I am the gate.

Anyone who enters through me will be safe:

he will go freely in and out

and be sure of finding pasture.

The thief comes

only to steal and kill and destroy.

I have come

so that they may have life and have it to the full.’

The New American Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Symbols of the Church

753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body. Around this center are grouped images taken “from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage.”

754 “The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God himself foretold that he would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep.

755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.

756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.'”


Psalm 41

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

Like the deer that yearns

for running streams,

so my soul is yearning

for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

My soul is thirsting for God,

the God of my life;

when can I enter and see

the face of God?

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

O send forth your light and your truth;

let these be my guide.

Let them bring me to your holy mountain,

to the place where you dwell.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

And I will come to the altar of God,

the God of my joy.

My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,

O God, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

Source: The New American Bible


Saint George (Greek: Γεώργιος, Geṓrgios; Latin: Georgius; Coptic: Ⲡⲓⲇⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲅⲉⲟⲣⲅⲓⲟⲥ; between AD 256–285 to 23 April 303), according to legend, was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. As a Christian martyr, he later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity, and was especially venerated by the Crusaders. George’s parents were Christians of Greek background, his father Gerontius (Greek: Γερόντιος, Gerontios meaning “old man” in Greek) was a Roman army official from Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia (Greek name, meaning she who lives many years) was a Christian and a Greek native from Lydda in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina.

In hagiography, as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and one of the most prominent military saints, he is immortalised in the myth of Saint George and the Dragon. His memorial, Saint George’s Day, is traditionally celebrated on 23 April. Numerous countries, cities, professions and organisations claim Saint George as their patron.

Life

There is little information on the early life of Saint George. Herbert Thurston in The Catholic Encyclopedia states that based upon an ancient cultus, narratives of the early pilgrims, and the early dedications of churches to Saint George, going back to the fourth century, “there seems, therefore, no ground for doubting the historical existence of St. George”, although no faith can be placed in either the details of his history or his alleged exploits. According to Donald Attwater, “No historical particulars of his life have survived, … The widespread veneration for St George as a soldier saint from early times had its centre in Palestine at Diospolis, now Lydda. St George was apparently martyred there, at the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century; that is all that can be reasonably surmised about him.”

Legend

Accounts differ regarding whether George was born in Cappadocia or Syria Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in Lydda in Palestine.His parents were Christian, of the nobility and of Greek heritage. His father Gerontius was a Roman army official from Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia was from Lydda in the province of Syria Palaestina. His father died when he was fourteen, and his mother returned with George to her homeland of Syria Palaestina.

A few years later, George’s mother died. At seventeen, he travelled to the capital at Nicomedia and following the customary course of a young Roman noble, joined the Roman army.[ By his late twenties, George was promoted to the rank of military tribune and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

One story has him travelling to Britain with the future emperor Constantine and visiting Glastonbury and Caerleon. Years later, George was promoted to the rank of legatus.

On 24 February 303, Diocletian, influenced by Galerius, issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be degraded and every soldier required to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. Seeing the edict, George freed his slaves, distributed his wealth to the poor, and prepared to meet his fate. He then confronted the emperor about the edict and declared himself to be a Christian. Diocletian attempted to convert George, offering gifts of land, money, and slaves if he would sacrifice to the gods, but the tribune refused. Recognizing the futility of his efforts and insisting on upholding his edict, Diocletian ordered that George be arrested. In an effort to undermine his resolve, the emperor sent a woman to the prison to spend the night with George, who having little time for earthly concerns managed to convert her instead. 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, so she joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.

Controversy

In The Golden Legend, by 13th-century Archbishop of Genoa Jacobus de Voragine, George’s death is at the hands of Dacian, and about the year 287.

It has been established that Saint George the Martyr and the Arian Bishop George of Alexandria were not identical; furthermore that Bishop George was slain by Gentile Greeks for exacting onerous taxes, especially inheritance taxes. And that Saint George in all likelihood was martyred before the year 290.  Although the Diocletianic Persecution of 303, associated with military saints because the persecution was aimed at Christians among the professional soldiers of the Roman army, is of undisputed historicity, the identity of Saint George as a historical individual had not been ascertained as of Edmund Spenser’s day, Herbert Thurston in the saint’s entry in the early 20th century Catholic Encyclopedia takes the position that there are no grounds for doubting the historical existence of Saint George, but that, as usual with saints of this early period, the legend of the dragon cannot be treated as historical.

The earliest text preserving fragments of George’s narrative is in a Greek hagiography identified by Hippolyte Delehaye of the scholarly Bollandists to be a palimpsest of the fifth century.The compiler of this Acta Sancti Georgii, according to Hippolyte Delehaye, “confused the martyr with his namesake, the celebrated George of Cappadocia, the Arian intruder into the see of Alexandria and enemy of St. Athanasius”. An earlier work by Eusebius, Church history, written in the 4th century, contributed to the legend but did not name George or provide significant detail.

A critical edition of a Syriac Acta of Saint George, accompanied by an annotated English translation, was published by E.W. Brooks (1863–1955) in 1925.

The work of the Bollandists Daniel Papebroch, Jean Bolland, and Godfrey Henschen in the 17th century was one of the first pieces of scholarly research to establish the saint’s historicity via their publications in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca. 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.”

The traditional legends, for example that of the Golden Legend, have offered a historicised narration of George’s encounter with a dragon. The modern legend that follows below is synthesised from early and late hagiographical sources, omitting the more fantastical episodes. Chief among the legendary sources about the saint is the Golden Legend, which remains the most familiar version in English owing to William Caxton’s 15th-century translation.

Edward Gibbon argued that George, or at least the legend from which the above is distilled, is based on George of Cappadocia,a notorious Arian bishop who was Athanasius of Alexandria’s most bitter rival, and that it was he who in time became Saint George of England. J. B. Bury (16 October 1861 – 1 June 1927), who edited the 1906 edition of The Decline and Fall, wrote “this theory of Gibbon’s has nothing to be said for it.” He adds that: “the connection of St. George with a dragon-slaying legend does not relegate him to the region of the myth”.[19][29]

Muslim legends

George (Arabic: جرجس‎, Jiriyas or Girgus) 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 Apollo’s statue by Mosul’s king Dadan. After confronting the king, George was tortured many times to no effect, was imprisoned and was aided by the angels. Eventually, he exposed that the idols were possessed by Satan, but 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 of al-Tabari 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.

Al-Tha`labi states that he was from Palestine and lived in the times of some disciples of Jesus. He was killed many times by the king of Mosul, and resurrected each time. When he tried to starve him, he touched a piece of dry wood brought by a woman and turned it green, with varieties of fruits and vegetables growing from it. After his fourth death, the city was burnt along with him. Ibn al-Athir’s account of one of his deaths is parallel to the crucifixion of Jesus, stating, “When he died, God sent stormy winds and thunder and lightning and dark clouds, so that darkness fell between heaven and earth, and people were in great wonderment…” The account adds that the darkness was lifted after his resurrection.

Saint George and the Dragon

In the medieval romances, the lance with which Saint George slew the dragon was called Ascalon after the Levantine city of Ashkelon, today in Israel. The name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II, according to records at Bletchley Park 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, the earliest inside Storkyrkan (“The Great Church”) in the Old Town. Iconography of the horseman with spear overcoming evil was widespread throughout the Christian period.

In Pharaonic mythology, the god Set or Setekh murdered his brother Osiris. Horus (Heru), the son of Osiris, avenged his father’s death by killing Setekh. Modern-day researchers interpret a late antique Coptic stone fenestrella of mounted hawk-headed figure fighting a crocodile, as Horus killing a metamorphosed Set, and have considered this scene ancestral to later iconography of George killing a dragon.

Veneration as a martyr

A titular church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine the Great (reigned 306–37) was consecrated to “a man of the highest distinction”, according to the church history of Eusebius; the name of the titulus “patron” was not disclosed, but later he was asserted to have been George.

By the time of the early Muslim conquests of the mostly Christian and Zoroastrian Middle East, a basilica in Lydda dedicated to Saint George existed. The church was destroyed by Muslims in 1010, but was later rebuilt and dedicated to Saint George by the Crusaders. In 1191 and during the conflict known as the Third Crusade (1189–92), the church was again destroyed by the forces of Saladin, Sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (reigned 1171–93).`  A new church was erected in 1872 and is still standing.

During the century, the veneration of George spread from Syria Palaestina through Lebanon to the rest of the Byzantine Empire – though the martyr is not mentioned in the Syriac Breviarium – and the region east of the Black Sea. In Georgia, the feast day on 23 November is credited to Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who in Georgian hagiography is a relative of Saint George, credited with bringing Christianity to the Georgians in the fourth century. By the fifth century, the veneration of Saint George had reached the Christian Western Roman Empire, as well: in 494, George was canonized as a saint by Pope Gelasius I, among those “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to [God].”

In England, he was mentioned among the martyrs by the 8th-century monk Bede. The Georgslied is an adaptation of his legend in Old High German, composed in the late 9th century. The earliest dedication to the saint in England is a church at Fordington, Dorset that is mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great. Saint George did not rise to the position of “patron saint” of England, however, until the 14th century, and he was still obscured by Edward the Confessor, the traditional patron saint of England, until in 1552 during the reign of Edward VI all saints’ banners other than George’s were abolished in the English Reformation.

An apparition of George heartened the Franks at the siege of Antioch, 1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem. The chivalric military Order of Sant Jordi d’Alfama was established by king Peter the Catholic from the Crown of Aragon in 1201, Republic of Genoa, Kingdom of Hungary (1326), and by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and in England the 1222 Synod of Oxford declared Saint George’s Day a feast day in the kingdom of England.[citation needed] Edward III of England put his Order of the Garter under the banner of St. George, probably in 1348. The chronicler Jean Froissart observed the English invoking Saint George as a battle cry on several occasions during the Hundred Years’ War. In his rise as a national saint, George was aided by the very fact that the saint had no legendary connection with England, and no specifically localized shrine, as that of Thomas Becket at Canterbury: “Consequently, numerous shrines were established during the late fifteenth century,” Muriel C. McClendon has written, “and his did not become closely identified with a particular occupation or with the cure of a specific malady.”

The establishment of George as a popular and protective saint in the West that had captured the medieval imagination was codified by the official elevation of his feast to a festum duplex at a church council in 1416, on the date that had become associated with his martyrdom, 23 April. Wide latitude existed from community to community in celebration of the day across late medieval and early modern England, and no uniform “national” celebration elsewhere, a token of the popular and vernacular nature of George’s cultus and its local horizons, supported by a local guild or confraternity under George’s protection, or the dedication of a local church. When the English Reformation severely curtailed the saints’ days in the calendar, Saint George’s Day was among the holidays that continued to be observed.

Feast days

Saint George was a knight from Cappadocia, who rescued a maiden princess from a dragon at Silene in Libya, leading to the Christianization of much of her father’s kingdom. Depiction here by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

In the General Roman Calendar, the feast of Saint George is on 23 April. In the Tridentine Calendar of 1568, it was given the rank of “Semidouble”. In Pope Pius XII’s 1955 calendar this rank was reduced to “Simple”, and in Pope John XXIII’s 1960 calendar to a “Commemoration”. Since Pope Paul VI’s 1969 revision, it appears as an optional “Memorial”. In some countries, such as England, the rank is higher. In England, it is a Solemnity (Roman Catholic) or Feast (Church of England): if it falls between Palm Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter inclusive, it is transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.

Saint George is very much honoured by the Eastern Orthodox Church, wherein he is referred to as a “Great Martyr”, and in Oriental Orthodoxy overall. His major feast day is on 23 April (Julian calendar 23 April currently corresponds to Gregorian calendar 6 May). If, however, the feast occurs before Easter, it is celebrated on Easter Monday, instead. The Russian Orthodox Church also celebrates two additional feasts in honour of St. George. One is on 3 November, commemorating the consecration of a cathedral dedicated to him in Lydda during the reign Constantine the Great (305–37). When the church was consecrated, the relics of the Saint George were transferred there. The other feast is on 26 November for a church dedicated to him in Kiev, circa 1054.

In Bulgaria, Saint George’s day (Bulgarian: Гергьовден) is celebrated on 6 May, when it is customary to slaughter and roast a lamb. Saint George’s day is also a public holiday.

In Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria refers to Saint George as the “Prince of Martyrs” and celebrates his martyrdom on the 23rd of Paremhat of the Coptic calendar equivalent to 1 May. The Copts also celebrate the consecration of the first church dedicated to him on seventh of the month of Hatour of the Coptic calendar usually equivalent to 17 November.

In India, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, one of the oriental catholic churches (Eastern Catholic Churches) and Malankara orthodox church venerate Saint George. The main pilgrim centers of the saint in India are at Edathua in Alappuzha district and Edappally  in Ernakulam district of the southern state of Kerala. The saint is commemorated each year from 27 April to 14 May at Edathua  On 27 April after the flag hoisting ceremony by the parish priest, the statue of the saint is taken from one of the altars and placed at the extension of the church to be venerated by the devotees till 14 May. The main feast day is 7 May, when the statue of the saint along with other saints is taken in procession around the church. Intercession to Saint George of Edathua is believed to be efficacious in repelling snakes and in curing mental ailments. The sacred relics of St. George were brought to Antioch from Mardeen in A.D.900 and were taken to Kerala, India from Antioch in 1912 by Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril and kept in the Orthodox seminary at Kundara, Kerala. H.H Mathews II Catholicos had given the relics to St. George churches at Puthupally, Kottayam District and Chandanappally, Pathanamthitta district.

Source: Wikipedia