Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Christian, Psalms 87:1-7, Acts 11:19-26 , John 10:22-30, Pope Francis Daily Homily - Mass on the Feast of St George, Saint George, Patronages of Saint George, Byzantine Kingdom Part II, , Catholic Catechism Part Two: THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH - Chapter 2: Sacrament of the Eucharist Article 3:7 The Eucharist - "Pledge of the Glory To Come"

Tuesday,  April 23, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Christian, Psalms 87:1-7, Acts 11:19-26 , John 10:22-30, Pope Francis Daily Homily - Mass on the Feast of St George, Saint George, Patronages of Saint George,  Byzantine Kingdom Part II, , Catholic Catechism Part Two: THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH - Chapter 2: Sacrament of the Eucharist Article 3:7 The Eucharist - "Pledge of the Glory To Come"

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today: Tuesday in Easter


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis April 23 Homily :

Mass on Feast of St. George

(2013-04-23 Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) “It is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church”: this was Pope Francis’ message as he marked his name day, the Feast of St. George, this Tuesday celebrating Mass in the Pauline Chapel with the Cardinals present in Rome.
In his homily, the Pope thanked the cardinals for coming to concelebrate with him: "Thank you - he said - because I really feel welcomed by you". Commenting on the readings of the day, the Holy Father highlighted three aspects of the Church: Its missionary activity, born of persecution; the fact that it is a Mother Church which gifts us the faith that is our identity and that you cannot find Jesus outside of the Church; the joy of belonging to the Church bringing Jesus to others. In short the joy of being an evangelizer:

Below we publish a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father’s Homily for Mass with the Cardinals in the Pauline Chapel.

I thank His Eminence, the Cardinal Dean, for his words: thank you very much, Your Eminence, thank you.
I also thank all of you who wanted to come today: Thank you. Because I feel welcomed by you. Thank you. I feel good with you, and I like that.

The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene - not these, but others who had become Christians - went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But ... it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward ... But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became 'nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well.

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

And the third idea comes to my mind - the first was the explosion of missionary activity; the second, the Mother Church - and the third, that when Barnabas saw that crowd - the text says: " And a large number of people was added to the Lord" - when he saw those crowds, he experienced joy. " When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced ": his is the joy of the evangelizer. It was, as Paul VI said, "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so the Church goes forward, as one Saint says - I do not remember which one, here - "amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord." And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world - as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time - we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.

Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it.


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope: April–May

Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS)
Following is the calendar of celebrations scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father in the months of April and May, 2013:

7 April, Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday: 5:30pm,Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for the Bishop of Rome to take possession of the Roman cathedra.

14 April, Sunday: 5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls

21 April, Sunday: 9:30am, Mass and priestly ordinations in St. Peter's Basilica.

28 April, Sunday: 10:00am, Mass and confirmations in St. Peter's Square.

4 May, Saturday: 6:00pm, Recitation of the Rosary in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

5 May, Sunday: 10:00am, Mass for Confraternities in St. Peter's Square.

12 May, Sunday: 9:30am, Mass and canonizations of Blesseds Antonio Primaldo and Companions; Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui; and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala.

18 May, Saturday: 6:00pm, Pentecost Vigil in St. Peter's Square with the participation of ecclesial movements.

19 May, Pentecost Sunday: 10:00am, Mass in St. Peter's Square with the participation of ecclesial movements.


  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 04/23/2013.


April 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:"Dear children, I am calling you to be one with my Son in spirit. I am calling you, through prayer, and the Holy Mass when my Son unites Himself with you in a special way, to try to be like Him; that, like Him, you may always be ready to carry out God's will and not seek the fulfillment of your own. Because, my children, it is according to God's will that you are and that you exist, and without God's will you are nothing. As a mother I am asking you to speak about the glory of God with your life because, in that way, you will also glorify yourself in accordance to His will. Show humility and love for your neighbour to everyone. Through such humility and love, my Son saved you and opened the way for you to the Heavenly Father. I implore you to keep opening the way to the Heavenly Father for all those who have not come to know Him and have not opened their hearts to His love. By your life, open the way to all those who still wander in search of the truth. My children, be my apostles who have not lived in vain. Do not forget that you will come before the Heavenly Father and tell Him about yourself. Be ready! Again I am warning you, pray for those whom my Son called, whose hands He blessed and whom He gave as a gift to you. Pray, pray, pray for your shepherds. Thank you." 

March 25, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:
“Dear children! In this time of grace I call you to take the cross of my beloved Son Jesus in your hands and to meditate on His passion and death. May your suffering be united in His suffering and love will win, because He who is love gave Himself out of love to save each of you. Pray, pray, pray until love and peace begin to reign in your hearts. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

March 18, 2013 Message to the World via Annual Apparition to Mirjana:
"Dear children! I call you to, with complete trust and joy, bless the name of the Lord and, day by day, to give Him thanks from the heart for His great love. My Son, through that love which He showed by the Cross, gave you the possibility to be forgiven for everything; so that you do not have to be ashamed or to hide, and out of fear not to open the door of your heart to my Son. To the contrary, my children, reconcile with the Heavenly Father so that you may be able to come to love yourselves as my Son loves you. When you come to love yourselves, you will also love others; in them you will see my Son and recognize the greatness of His love. Live in faith! Through me, my Son is preparing you for the works which He desires to do through you – works through which He desires to be glorified. Give Him thanks. Especially thank Him for the shepherds - for your intercessors in the reconciliation with the Heavenly Father. I am thanking you, my children. Thank you."


Today's Word:  Christian  Christ·ian  [kris-chuhn]  

Origin: 1250–1300;  < Latin Chrīstiānus  < Greek Chrīstiānós,  equivalent to Chrīst ( ós ) Christ + -iānos  < Latin -iānus -ian; replacing Middle English, Old English cristen  < Latin,  as above

1.  of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
2.  of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.
3.  of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.
4.  exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity.
5. decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.
6.  human; not brutal; humane: Such behavior isn't Christian.
1. a. a perosn who bleieves inand follows Jesus Christ
    b. a member of a Christian Church or Denominaiton
2. informal a person who posses Christina virtues, esp practical ones


Today's Old Testament Reading -   Psalms 87:1-3, 4-5, 6-7

1 [Of the sons of Korah Psalm Song] With its foundations on the holy mountains,
2 Yahweh loves his city, he prefers the gates of Zion to any dwelling-place in Jacob.
3 He speaks of glory for you, city of God,Pause
4 'I number Rahab and Babylon among those that acknowledge me; look at Tyre, Philistia, Ethiopia, so and so was born there.'
5 But of Zion it will be said, 'Every one was born there,' her guarantee is the Most High.
6 Yahweh in his register of peoples will note against each, 'Born there',Pause
7 princes no less than native-born; all make their home in you.


Today's Epistle -  Acts 11:19-26

19 Those who had scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, but they proclaimed the message only to Jews.
20 Some of them, however, who came from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch where they started preaching also to the Greeks, proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus to them.
21 The Lord helped them, and a great number believed and were converted to the Lord.
22 The news of them came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem and they sent Barnabas out to Antioch.
23 There he was glad to see for himself that God had given grace, and he urged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with heartfelt devotion;
24 for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith. And a large number of people were won over to the Lord.
25 Barnabas then left for Tarsus to look for Saul,
26 and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. And it happened that they stayed together in that church a whole year, instructing a large number of people. It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called 'Christians'.


Today's Gospel Reading - John 10:22-30

It was the time of the feast of Dedication in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple walking up and down in the Portico of Solomon. The Jews gathered round him and said, 'How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us openly.' Jesus replied: I have told you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name are my witness; but you do not believe, because you are no sheep of mine. The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand. The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one. 

• Chapters one to twelve of the Gospel of John are called “The Book of Signs”. In these chapters we have the progressive revelation of the Mystery of God in Jesus. In the measure in which Jesus makes this revelation, adherence and opposition grow around him according to the vision or idea which each one has of the coming of the Messiah. This way of describing the activity of Jesus does not only serve to inform how adherence to Jesus took place at that time, but also and above all, how this should take place in us today, his readers. At that time, all expected the coming of the Messiah and they had their criteria of how to recognize him. They wanted him to be like they imagined that he should be. But Jesus does not submit himself to that requirement. He reveals the Father as the Father is and not as his listeners would want him to be. He asks for conversion in the way of thinking and of acting. Today, also, each one of us has his/her own likes and own preferences. Some times we read the Gospel to see if we find in it a confirmation of our desires. Today’s Gospel presents some light concerning this.

• John 10, 22-24: The Jews question Jesus. It was cold; it was the month of October. It was the Feast of the dedication which celebrated the purification of the temple done by Judah Maccabee (2 M 4, 36.59). It was a very popular Feast with much light. Jesus was out on the square of the Temple, in the Portico of Solomon. The Jews said: "How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us openly”. They wanted Jesus to define himself and that they could verify, according to their own criteria, if Jesus was or was not the Messiah. They wanted some proofs. It is the attitude of the one who feels that he dominates the situation. The new ones must present their credentials. Otherwise, they have no right to speak or to act.

• John 10, 25-26: Response of Jesus: the works that I do are my witness. The response of Jesus is always the same: “I have told you, but you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name are my witness; but you do not believe, because you are no sheep of mine”. It is not a question of giving proofs. It would be useless. When a person does not want to accept the witness of some one, there is no proof which is valid and which will lead the person to change and think differently. The basic problem is the disinterested openness of the person toward God and toward truth. Where this openness exists, Jesus is recognized by his sheep. “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice”. Jesus will say these words before Pilate (Jn 18, 37). The Pharisees lacked this openness.

• John 10, 27-28: My sheep listen to my voice. Jesus repeats the parable of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and they know him. This mutual understanding – between Jesus who comes in the name of the Father and the persons who open themselves to truth – is the source of eternal life. This union between the Creator and the creature through Jesus exceeds every threat of death: “They will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand!” They are safe and secure and, because of this, they are in peace and enjoy full freedom.

• John 10, 29-30: The Father and I are one. These two verses refer to the mystery of the union between Jesus and the Father: “The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from my Father’s hand. The Father and I are one”. These and other phrases make us guess or have a glimpse at something of the greatest mystery: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14, 9). “The Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10, 38). This union between Jesus and the Father is not something automatic, but rather it is the fruit of obedience: “I always do what pleases my Father” (Jn 8, 29; 6, 38; 17, 4). “My food is to do the will of the Father” (Jn 4, 34; 5, 30). The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus learnt obedience from the things that he suffered (Heb 5, 8). “He was obedient until death and death on the Cross” (Ph 2, 8). The obedience of Jesus is not a disciplinary one, but rather it was prophetic. He obeys in order to be total transparency and, thus, to be the revelation of the Father. Because of this, he could say: “The Father and I are one!” It was a long process of obedience and of incarnation which lasted 33 years. It began with Mary’s YES (Lk 1, 38) and ended with: “It is all fulfilled!” (Jn 19, 30). 

Personal questions
• Is my obedience to God, disciplinary or prophetic? Do I reveal something of God or am I only concerned about my own salvation?
• Jesus does not submit himself to the exigencies of those who want to verify if he is the Messiah. In me, is there something of this attitude of dominion and of inquiry of the enemies of Jesus?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint George

Feast DayApril  23

Patron Saint:  Agricultural workers; Amersfoort, Netherlands; Aragon; archers; armourers; Bavaria, Germany; Beirut, Lebanon; Bulgaria; butchers; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Corinthians (Brazilian football team); Crusaders; England; equestrians; Ethiopia; farmers; Ferrara; field workers; Freiburg, Germany; Genoa; Georgia; Gozo; Greece; Haldern, Germany; Heide; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; knights; lepers and leprosy; Lod; London; Malta; Modica, Sicily; Montenegro; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; Piran; plague; Portugal; Portuguese Army; Portuguese Navy; Ptuj; Reggio Calabria; riders; Romani people; saddle makers; Serbia; Scouts; sheep; shepherds; skin diseases; Slovenia; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights

Attributes: Clothed as a soldier in a suit of armour or chain mail, often bearing a lance tipped by a cross, riding a white horse, often slaying a dragon. In the West he is shown with St George's Cross emblazoned on his armour, or shield or banner.

Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, by Martorell
Saint George (c. 275/281 – 23 April 303 AD) was a Greek who became an officer in the Roman army. His father was the Greek Gerondios from Cappadocia Asia Minor and his mother was from the city Lydda. Lydda was a Greek city in Palestine from the times of the conquest of Alexander the Great (333 BC). Saint George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of Diocletian. He is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography, Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

Many Patronages of Saint George exist around the world, including: Georgia, England, Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, as well as the cities of Genoa, Amersfoort, Beirut, Botoşani, Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Timişoara, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg im Breisgau, Kragujevac, Kumanovo, Ljubljana, Pérouges, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Lviv, Barcelona, Moscow and Victoria, as well as of the Scout Movement and a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.

Life of Saint George

Historians have argued the exact details of the birth of Saint George for over a century, although the approximate date of his death is subject to little debate. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia takes the position that there seems to be no ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint George, but that little faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories about him.

The work of the Bollandists Danile Paperbroch, Jean Bolland and Godfrey Henschen in the 17th century was one of the first pieces of scholarly research to establish the historicity of the saint's existence via their publications in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca and paved the way for other scholars to dismiss the medieval legends. Pope Gelasius 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 have offered a historicised narration of George's encounter with a dragon: see "St. George and the Dragon" below. The modern legend that follows below is synthesised from early and late hagiographical sources, omitting the more fantastical episodes, to narrate a purely human military career in closer harmony with modern expectations of reality. 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.

It is likely that Saint George was born to a Greek Christian noble family in Lydda, Palestine, during the late third century between about 275 AD and 285 AD, and he died in the Greek city Nicomedia, Asia Minor. His father, Gerontios, was a Greek, from Cappadocia, Asia Minor, officer in the Roman army and his mother, Polychronia, was a Greek from the city Lydda, Palestine. They were both Christians and from noble families of Anici, so the child was raised with Christian beliefs. They decided to call him Georgios (Greek), meaning "worker of the land" (i.e., farmer). At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother, Polychronia, died. Eastern accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and Theobaste.

Then George decided to go to Nicomedia, the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father, Gerontius — one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In the year AD 302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods of the time. However George objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of his best official, Gerontius. George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted.

Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda in Palestine for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.

Although the above distillation of the legend of George connects him to the conversion of Athanasius, who according to Rufinus was brought up by Christian ecclesiastical authorities from a very early age, 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' most bitter rival, who in time became Saint George of England. According to Professor Bury, Gibbon's latest editor, "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".

In 1856 Ralph Waldo Emerson published a book of essays entitled "English Traits." In it, he wrote a paragraph on the history of Saint George. Emerson compared the legend of Saint George to the legend of Amerigo Vespucci, calling the former "an impostor" and the latter "a thief." The editorial notes appended to the 1904 edition of Emerson's complete works state that Emerson based his account on the work of Gibbon, and that current evidence seems to show that real St. George was not George the Arian of Cappadocia.Merton M. Sealts also quotes Edward Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson's youngest son as stating that he believed his father's account was derived from Gibbon and that the real St. George "was apparently another who died two generations earlier."

Saint George and the dragon

White George on the coat of arms of Georgia.
Eastern Orthodox depictions of Saint George slaying a dragon often include the image of the young maiden who looks on from a distance. The standard iconographic interpretation of the image icon is that the dragon represents both Satan (Rev. 12:3) and the Roman Empire. The young maiden is the wife of Diocletian, Alexandra. Thus, the image as interpreted through the language of Byzantine iconography, is an image of the martyrdom of the saint.

The episode of St. George and the Dragon was a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance. The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early eleventh-century Cappadocia (in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventh-century Georgian text.

In the fully developed Western version, which developed as part of the Golden Legend, a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene in Libya or the city of Lydda in the Holy Land, depending on the source). Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the Cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.

St. George and the Dragon, by Tintoretto, 1560, National Gallery.
After the thirteenth century, a large portion of the art, iconography and legendary traditions associated with Saint George and many festivals that celebrate him involve the legend of Saint George and the Dragon.

The association of Saint George with the dragon was not attested to until the twelfth century version of Miracula Sancti Georgii (Codex Romanus Angelicus 46, pt. 12, written in Greek). Jacobus De Voragine, the thirteenth century archbishop of Genoa, helped promote the legend of the dragon with his publication of The Golden Legend around 1260. By the fourteenth century the Golden legend had become one of the most popular religious works of the Middle Ages and helped spread the legend of the dragon. In De Voragine's version of the legend, the dragon was in the city of Silena in the province of Libya in the middle east. However, as the tales were carried across Europe, the location of the dragon varied. For instance in some German versions the dragon would come to the area above the village of Ebingen and would disappear into the southern slope of Schonberg mountain in Liechtenstein. In these legends, Saint George slays a dragon to liberate a princess and is thanked by the town people.

Perseus frees Adnromeda from a marine monster, by Pierre Mignard, Louvre, 1679.
Some authors have pointed out that many scenes of the legend of Saint George's slaying of the dragon to save the princess correspond to the myth of the slaying of the "sea monster" by Perseus to free Andromeda in Greek mythology. And that the Andromeda episode in the life of Perseus may have helped shape the legend of Saint George and the dragon. The similarities extend to the visual representations, and many artistic portrayals of Saint George slaying the dragon have distinct counterparts in the renderings of Perseus and Andromeda.

In Russia, the story of Saint George and the Dragon passed through the oral tradition of religious poems (dukhovny stikhi) sung by minstrels and fused the story of the martyrdom of the saint with the western legend of the liberation of the princess from the dragon.

Images of the life and martyrdom of Saint George and the dragon legend began to appear in churches across Europe, including Sweden, where Saint George was portrayed as the hero and example of all noble young men who needed to be stimulated to show their virtue and bravery in the defense of princesses and in confession of the true belief. The Swedish regent Sten Sture the Elder attributed his victory over King Christian I of Denmark in the 1471 Battle of Brunkeberg to the intercession of Saint George, and in the aftermath commissioned a statue of Saint George and the Dragon carved by the Lübeck sculptor Bernt Notke for the Storkyrkan church in Stockholm, as an obvious allegory of Sture's battle against Christian.

Saint George thus came to be seen as the deliverer of prisoners and protector of the poor, and these sentiments are reflected in art that depicts him. Saint George the Victorious striking down the dragon became one of the most popular subjects in Orthodox icon painting.

The dragon motif was first combined with the standardised Passio Georgii in Vincent of Beauvais' encyclopaedic Speculum Historiale and then in Jacobus de Voragine's "Golden Legend", which guaranteed its popularity in the later Middle Ages as a literary and pictorial subject.

The parallels with Perseus and Andromeda are inescapable. In the allegorical reading, the dragon embodies a suppressed pagan cult. The story has other roots that predate Christianity. Examples such as Sabazios, the sky father, who was usually depicted riding on horseback, and Zeus's defeat of Typhon the Titan in Greek mythology, along with examples from Germanic and Vedic traditions, have led a number of historians, such as Loomis, to suggest that George is a Christianized version of older deities in Indo-European culture.

In the medieval romances, the lance with which St George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, named after the city of Ashkelon in the Levant.

Veneration as a martyr

The martyrdom of Saint George, by Paolo Veronese, 1564
A church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine I (reigned 306–37), was consecrated to "a man of the highest distinction", according to the church history of Eusebius of Caesarea; the name of the patronwas not disclosed, but later he was asserted to have been George.

By the time of the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, a basilica dedicated to the saint in Lydda existed. The church was destroyed 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 fourth century the veneration of George spread from Palestine through Lebanon to the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire – though the martyr is not mentioned in the Syriac Breviarium – and Georgia. In Georgia the feast day on November 23 is credited to St Nino of Cappadocia, who in Georgian hagiography is a relative of St George, credited with bringing Christianity to the Georgians in the fourth century. By the fifth century, the cult of Saint George had reached the 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 the earliest dedication to George, who was mentioned among the martyrs by Bede, is a church at Fordington, Dorset, that is mentioned in the wars of Alfred the Great. "Saint George and his feast day began to gain more widespread fame among all Europeans, however, from the time of the Crusades." The St. George's flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Genoese fleet during the Crusades, and the English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege. An apparition of George heartened the Franks at the siege of Antioch, 1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem. Chivalric military Order of St. George were established in Aragon (1201), Genoa, Hungary, and by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and in England the Synod of Oxford, 1222 declared St George's Day a feast day in the kingdom of England. Edward III put his Order of the Garter under the banner of St. George, probably in 1348. The chronicler Froissart observed the English invoking St. 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 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 saint and protective giant 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 1415, on the date that had become associated with his martyrdom, 23 April. There was wide latitude 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 Reformation in England severely curtailed the saints' days in the calendar, St. George's Day was among the holidays that continued to be observed.

Battles and patronages

Battle at Iconium, by Hermann Wislicenus, c 1890. Prayers to Saint George here in 1190 were the battle cry of the Christian forces.
The invocation of Saint George as a protector during the middle ages is well exemplified by the conduct of the soldiers participating in the Battle of Iconium in 1190, during the Third Crusade.

As Frederick I Barbarossa marched through Anatolia, his troops were involved in group prayer and the bishops would hold camp-wide religious rites for them to strengthen their faith and morale. Priests would celebrate special votive masses with the troops to pray for divine support.

These masses focused on Saint George and the soldiers always invoked him for he was said to appear whenever the crusaders were in their greatest need for help. In a letter sent to his son in November 1189, Fredrick stated that despite having superb troops, it was necessary for him to place his trust in prayers for divine assistance for: "A King is saved by the Grace of the Eternal King which exceeds the merits of any individual".

A few days before Pentecost, one of Fredrick's soldiers named Ludwig of Helfenstein reported that he had seen a white clad warrior, identified as Saint George, on a white horse attacking the Turks, and the chronicled accounts provide no evidence that anyone doubted him. On the evening of May 13, 1190, Frederick's troops were ordered to confess their sins and received penance. During the battle on May 14, the priests and bishops (at the risk of injury or death) went to the front, among the troops, to pray, wearing their white stoles that made them obvious targets for the Muslims. The invocation of Saint George for help had by then become the standard battle cry of the soldiers. The crusaders prevailed in the battle and captured Iconium on May 16, 1190.

Another example is provided by the Battle of Montaperti in 1260. Here, the pleas for help to Saint George and the ensuing victory led to donations by the soldiers for the construction of the Church of San Giorgio in Siena and an annual festival that grew so large that it had to be moved to a larger location. As of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Saint George had come to be seen as the normal defender of the crusaders, and even the standard-bearer of their army. And in a wider context, he came to be seen, and was depicted in art as "a protector", his raised sword symbolizing both protection and sacrifice. In some medieval paintings, Saint George even came to be represented as an intercessor to Christ.

During the eleventh century Crusades many of the Normans under Robert Curthose, the Duke of Normandy and son of William the Conqueror, took Saint George as their patron. Pendants bearing the image of Saint George were used for protection. The inscription on an enamel pendant at the British Museum specifically asks the saint to protect the wearer in battle. Songs were composed to Saint George for the English peasantry, e.g.:
As for Saint George O'
Saint George he was a knight, O!
Of all the knights in Christendom,
Saint George is the right, O!
Early patron saints in England were Edmund the Martyr and Edward the Confessor. But when Richard the Lionheart was crusading in the Middle east in the twelfth century he had a vision of Saint George who promised him victory in the battle. Eventually Saint George was proclaimed the patron saint of England in the mid thirteenth century and protector of the royal family by Edward III in the fourteenth century. More than 190 Medieval churches in England were dedicated to Saint George and stained glass bearing his image could be found in many more.

English crusaders who helped in the conquest of Lisbon in the twelfth century, brought the devotion to Saint George to Portugal with them. By the fourteenth century "São Jorge" (i.e. St. George) had become the battle cry of Portuguese troops and Saint Constable attributed their victory in the Battle of Aljubarrota to Saint George. King John I of Portugal was specially devoted to the saint and declared him the patron saint of Portugal. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Portuguese explorers carried the devotion across the oceans to India and South America.


The coat of arms of Volodymyr is the oldest known Ukrainian city emblem.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the earliest text preserving fragments of George's narrative is in an Acta Sanctorum identified by Hippolyte Delehaye of the scholarly Bollandists to be a palimpsest of the fifth century. However, this Acta Sancti Georgii was soon banned as heresy by Pope Gelasius I (in 496).

The compiler of this Acta, 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". 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 hagiography was originally written in Greek.

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.

The façade of architect Antoni Gaudi's famous Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain depicts this allegory.

Feast Days

In the General Calendar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23. In the Tridentine Calendar it was given the rank of "Semidouble". In Pope Pius XII's 1955 calendar this rank is reduced to "Simple". In Pope John XXIII's 1960 calendar the celebration is further demoted to just a "Commemoration". In Pope Paul VI's 1969 calendar it is raised to the level of an optional "Memorial". In some countries, such as England, the rank is higher.

In Egypt the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria refers to St George as the "Prince of Martyrs" and celebrates his martyrdom on the 23rd of Paremhat of the Coptic Calendar equivalent to May 1. The Copts also celebrate the consecration of the first church dedicated to him on 7th of the month of Hatour of the Coptic Calender usually equivalent to 17 November.

Saint George Cross and Colors

St George's cross
The "Colours of Saint George", or St George's Cross are a white flag with a red cross, frequently borne by entities over which he is patron (e.g. the Republic of Genoa and then Liguria, England, Georgia, Catalonia, Aragon, etc.).

The cross was originally the personal flag of another saint and key Christian figure, St. Ambrose. Adopted by the city of Milan (of which he was Archbishop) at least as early as the Ninth century, its use spread over Northern Italy including Genoa. Genoa's patron saint was St. George and through the flag's use by the vast Genoese trading fleet, the association was carried throughout Europe.

The same colour scheme was used by Viktor Vasnetsov for the façade of the Tretyakov Gallery, in which some of the most famous St. George icons are exhibited and which displays St. George as the coat of arms of Moscow over its entrance.

In 1606, the flag of England (St. George's Cross), and the flag of Scotland (St. Andrew's Cross), were joined together to create the Union Flag.

Worldwide devotions and shrines

Fresco of Saint George (with his white horse) standing beside Christ and the Virgin Mary at the Church of San Giorgio in Velabro, the first Church dedicated to Saint George in Rome in 741.
The earliest dated Church dedicated to Saint George himself was first mentioned in 518. In Rome, the Byzantine general Flavius Belisarius put Porta San Sebastiano under the saint's protection in 527. In Sakkaia, Syria in 549, the local bishop and two of his deacons built a martyrion dedicated to Saint George. Pope Leo II built a church for Saint George in 683 and the Church of San Giorgio in Velabro, which housed some of the saint's reported relics was dedicated to him by Pope Zacharias in 741.

It is not known when a church was first built on the site of martyrdom and burial of Saint George. But by the time of the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, a large three ailed basilica existed with the martyr's tomb located beneath the main altar.

Saint George was venerated in England as early as the eighth century and devotions to Saint George and shrines dedicated to him continued to grow during the Middle ages across Europe. Saint George's Abbey on the Reichenau monastic island on Lake Constance in Germany was founded in 888 and in about the year 900 Georgslied (Song of Saint George) was composed there as a set of hymns to Saint George.

Georgslied, hymns to St. George, c. 1000.
The Sankt Georgenberg Shrine near Schwaz in the Tyrol in Austria is another example of a remote, but surviving shrine. By the tenth century a chapel was dedicated to Saint George on this mountain bluff that can only be reached on foot, and an abbey was established in 1138. Pilgrimages developed soon thereafter once a possible relic of the saint was reported and still thousands of pilgrims climb the mountain path each year. But not all churches dedicated to Saint George in the Middle ages were remote or built on a small budget. The Church of Saint George at Mangana, which has partially been excavated now, was built by the bishop of Euchaita in the early eleventh century under Constantine IX at great expense and had truly imposing dimensions for any medieval structure. The techniques used in building the church signify the highest level of patronage.

Many churches were decorated with images of the saint, e.g. St. George's church in Staraya Ladoga, Russia was adorned with magnificent frescoes in 1167. From this early period, Saint George was seen both as a symbol of courage for keeping his faith in the face of death and, having been a soldier, as one the warrior saints who was at times depicted with Saint Theodore of Amasea. Saint George and Saint Theodore continued to be represented together in many churches, e.g. in mosaics in St Mark's Basilica in Venice.

Saint George came to be called on by Christians to aid them in battles, and in times of great need, and upon victory churches were at times built to honor him. Festivals celebrating the ensuing victories became part of local traditions and led to increased devotion to him. He was portrayed in art as a protector and as a symbol of sacrifice, and the interplay of battle cries, prayers, artistic depictions and the construction of Churches in his honor led to increased devotion.

Vasco da Gamma landing in India, c. 1880.
By the fifteenth century, the story of the courage of Saint George, and devotions to him had spread across the world, from the southern parts of India the northern parts of Russia. Syrian Christians (who arrived first) and the Portuguese brought the legend of the pious and brave Saint George to Kerala, in Southern India and statues to honor him were erected. However, before the fifteenth century arrival of the Portuguese, the Syrians had no tradition of sacred statues as they believed them to be idolatrous. In Indian churches such as St. George's Church, Aruvithura, near Kottayam in Kerala, the annual feast is dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of the church, and his ancient statue is still honored. The arrival of the English after the Portuguese, added to the spread of devotions to the saint. Elsewhere in Kerala, the annual ten day prayer feast at the massive 19th century St. George's Church in Edathua (which resembles the Medieval churches of Europe) attracts many pilgrims.

Impressive Saint George statues began to appear across Europe after the fourteenth century. Donatello's 1415 bronze statue of Saint George in Florence, Italy is considered a masterpiece of Florentine art.

In Stockholm Cathedral, an exceptionally lifelike monumental wooden statue of Saint George was erected by the fifteenth century Lübeck carver Bernt Notke, an exact copy of which can also be found in his hometown in the St. Catherine Church.

The Coat of Arms of Moscow with Saint George.
Saint George first appeared as the patron saint of Russia in 1415 and his popularity in Russia continued to grow. Saint George grew to be so popular in Moscow that 41 churches there were dedicated to him. Saint George is still represented on the Coat of Arms of the city of Moscow as a knight on a white horse slaying a dragon with a spear. Today, a large number of statues of Saint George can be found in Moscow.

The fifteenth century also witnessed a significant amount of growth in the festivals and patronages for Saint George. As of 1411, San Giorgio's festival on April 24 was a main event in Ferrara, Italy, where he is still the patron saint of the town. Such festivals spread across Europe and became part of local traditions in villages from Turtman, Valais in Switzerland to Traunstein in Bavaria, Germany.

By the late fifteenth century, as Portuguese ships sailed the seas, symbols of Saint George began to appear in new territories, with Diogo Cão placing a pillar dedicated to the saint at the opening of the River Congo in 1484. In the sixteenth century the Portuguese spread devotions to Saint George in South America, and today the saint remains popular in places such as Brazil.

In 1620, as the ship Mayflower sailed from England to what would later become the United States, it flew the flag of Saint George, the patron Saint of England. Over the next three centuries, pilgrims from Europe brought with them the devotions to Saint George, and a large number churches were dedicated to him in the United States. Among them is St. George's United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, which dates to 1784, and is the oldest Methodist church still in use in the United States. To date, St. George, Staten Island commemorates the story of Saint George and the Dragon every April.

Devotions and churches dedicated to Saint George continued to spread to other continents. St. George's Cathedral, Perth, Australia dates to 1888, St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa to 1901 and Saint George's Church, Singapore to 1910.

Prayers and Novenas

Saint George by Donatello, 1415, Florence.
Along with the construction of churches, creation of art and spread of legends, a number of genuine devotions and prayers to Saint George developed over the ages among Christians. These traditions and prayers continue across the world to date, e.g. in May 2008, the arch-priest of St. George's Basilica, Malta called on all parishioners to pray to Saint George every day. St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral, New Delhi, India holds prayers of intercession to Saint George every week.

The Prayer to Saint George directly refers to the courage it took for the saint to confess his Christianity before opposing authority:
Almighty God, who gave to your servant George boldness to Confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The same sentiment is present within the following two  
Prayers to Saint George:
St. George, Heroic Catholic soldier and defender of your Faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical Emperor and were subjected to horrible torture. You could have occupied a high military position but you preferred to die for your Lord. Obtain for us the great grace of heroic Christian courage that should mark soldiers of Christ. Amen
Saint George Prayer:
O GOD, who didst grant to Saint 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.
There is also a Prayers of Intercession to Saint George:
Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint 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
The Novena to Saint George does not have a specific warrior context, but simply asks God for divine assistance and the imitation of the life of the saint:
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.


  • Brook, E.W., 1925. Acts of Saint George in series Analecta Gorgiana 8 (Gorgias Press).
  • Burgoyne, Michael H. 1976. A Chronological Index to the Muslim Monuments of Jerusalem. In The Architecture of Islamic Jerusalem. Jerusalem: The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.
  • Alban Butler, Butler's Lives of the Saints, vol. 2, pp. 148–150. "George, Martyr, Protector of the Kingdom of England" (on-line text[dead link])
  • Gabidzashvili, Enriko. 1991. Saint George: In Ancient Georgian Literature. Armazi – 89: Tbilisi, Georgia.
  • Good, Jonathan, 2009. The Cult of Saint George in Medieval England (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press).
  • Loomis, C. Grant, 1948. White Magic, An Introduction to the Folklore of Christian Legend (Cambridge: Medieval Society of America)
  • Natsheh, Yusuf. 2000. "Architectural survey", in Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City 1517–1917. Edited by Sylvia Auld and Robert Hillenbrand (London: Altajir World of Islam Trust) pp 893–899.
  • Whatley, E. Gordon, editor, with Anne B. Thompson and Robert K. Upchurch, 2004. St. George and the Dragon in the South English Legendary (East Midland Revision, c. 1400) Originally published in Saints' Lives in Middle English Collections


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        Today's Snippet I:  Patronages of Saint George

        As a highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern Christian churches, Saint George is connected with a large number of Patronages throughout the world, and his iconography can be found on the flags and coats of arms of a number of cities and countries.


        Alaverdi Monastery of Kakheti, in Georgia.
        Saint George is a patron saint of Georgia, and it is claimed by Georgian author Enriko Gabisashvili that Saint George is most venerated in that nation. An 18th century Georgian geographer and historian Vakhushti Bagrationi wrote that there are 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia named after Saint George, according to the number of days in one year. There are indeed many churches in Georgia named after the Saint; Alaverdi Monastery is one of the largest.

        Devotions to the saint in Georgia date back to the fourth century. While not technically named after the saint (Sakartvelo is the Georgian name for the country), its English name is an early and well-attested back-derivation of Saint George. The name is reputed to be an anglicisation of Gurj, derived from the Persian word for the frightening and heroic people in that territory, and hence assumed by early medieval chroniclers to translate as George, due to the existing patronage.

        The Georgian Orthodox Church commemorates St. George's day twice a year, on May 6 (O.C. April 23) and November 23. The feast day in November was instituted by St Nino of Cappadocia, who was credited with bringing Christianity to the land of Georgia in the fourth century. She was from Cappadocia, like Saint George, and was said to be his relative. This feast day is unique to Georgia, and it is the day of St George's martyrdom.

        "White George" on the coat of arms of Georgia.
        There are also many folk traditions in Georgia that vary from Georgian Orthodox Church rules, because they portray the Saint differently than the Church does and show the veneration of Saint George by the common people of Georgia. Different regions of Georgia have different traditions, and in most folk tales Saint George is venerated very highly, almost as much as Jesus himself. In the province of Kakheti, there is an icon of St George known as White George. This image is also seen on the current Coat of Arms of Georgia. The region of Pshavi has icons known as the Cuppola St. George and Lashari St. George. The Khevsureti region has Kakhmati, Gudani, and Sanebi icons dedicated to the Saint. The Pshavs and Khevsurs during the Middle Ages used to refer to Saint George almost as much as praying to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another notable icon is known as the Lomisi Saint George, which can be found in the Mtiuleti and Khevi provinces of Georgia.

        An example of a folk tale about St. George is given by author Enriko Gabidzashvili:
        "Once the Lord Jesus Christ, the prophet Elias and Saint George were going through Georgia. When they became tired and hungry they stopped to dine. They saw a Georgian shepherd man and decided to ask him to feed them. First, Elias went up to the shepherd and asked him for a sheep. After the shepherd asked his identity Elias said that, he was the one who sent him rain to get him a good profit from farming. The shepherd became angry at him and told him that he was the one who also sent thunderstorms, which destroyed the farms of poor widows.
        "After Elias, Jesus Christ himself went up to the shepherd and asked him for a sheep and told him that he was God, the creator of everything. The shepherd became angry at Jesus and told him that he is the one who takes the souls away of young men and grants long lives to many dishonest people.
        "After Elias and Christ's unsuccessful attempts, St George went up to the shepherd, asked him for a sheep and told him that he is Saint George who the shepherd calls upon every time when he has troubles and [to protect him from all evil]... The shepherd fell down on his knees and adored him and gave him everything." The tale shows the degree to which St George was venerated in Georgia, and similar tales are told in parts of Georgia today.
        Some interesting tales come from Georgian sources, some of which are also attested to by Persian ones, that the Georgian Army during many battles was led by a knight on a white horse who came down from Heaven, that's why Georgia won battles with 10 times smaller army. Catholicos Besarion of Georgia also testified of this.


        In Mons (Belgium),Saint Georges is honoured each year on Trinity Sunday. In the heart of the city, a reconstitution (known as the “Combat dit Lumeçon”) of the fight between Saint Georges and the dragon is played by 46 actors. According to the tradition, the inhabitants of Mons try to get a piece of the dragon during the fight. This will bring luck for one year to the ones succeeding in this challenge. This event is part of the annual Ducasse festival and is attended by thousands of people.


        As part of the Portuguese Empire, Brazil inherited the devotion to Saint George as patron saint of Portugal. In the religious traditions of the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda, Ogum (as this Yoruba divinity is known in the Portuguese language) is often identified with Saint George in many regions of the country, being widely celebrated by both religions' followers. Popular devotion to Saint George is very strong in Rio de Janeiro, where the saint vies in popularity with the city's official patron Saint Sebastian, both saints' feast days being local holidays.

        Saint George is also the patron saint of the football club Corinthians, of São Paulo. The club stadium is Parque São Jorge (Saint George's Park).


        Mural above the entrance to a church in Sozopol, Bulgaria
        St. George is praised by the Bulgarians as "liberator of captives, and defender of the poor, physician of the sick". For centuries he has been considered by the Bulgarians as their protector. Possibly the most celebrated name day in the country, St George's Day (Гергьовден, Gergyovden) is a public holiday that takes place on 6 May every year. A common ritual is to prepare and eat a whole lamb. St. George is the patron saint of farmers and shepherds.

        St. George's Day is also the Day of the Bulgarian Army (made official with a decree of Knyaz Alexander of Bulgaria on 9 January 1880), and parades are organised in the capital Sofia to present the best of the army's equipment and manpower.


        St George’s Day is a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador that is observed on the Monday closest to April 23 each year. Saint George's Greek Orthodox Church in Toronto serves the largest Greek Orthodox community in Canada. 


        There is a metro station in Cairo named (Mar-Girges station) There are also many old churches and monasteries named after him.


        British recruitment poster from World War I, featuring St. George and the Dragon.
        Traces of the cult of St George predate the Norman Conquest, in ninth-century liturgy used at Durham Cathedral, in a tenth-century Anglo-Saxon martyrology, and in dedications to Saint George at Fordington, Dorset, at Thetford, Southwark and Doncaster. He received further impetus when the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land in the 12th century. At the Battle of Antioch in 1098, St George, St Demetrius and St Maurice were said to have been seen riding alongside the crusaders, and depictions of this event can be seen in a number of churches. King Edward III (reigned 1327 – 1377) was known for promoting the codes of knighthood and in 1348 founded the Order of the Garter. During his reign, George came to be recognised as the patron saint of the English monarchy; prior to this, Saint Edmund had been considered the patron saint of England, although his veneration had waned since the time of the Norman conquest, and his cult was partly eclipsed by that of Edward the Confessor. Edward dedicated the chapel at Windsor Castle to the soldier saint who represented the knightly values of chivalry which he so much admired, and the Garter ceremony takes place there every year. In the 16th century, Edmund Spenser included St. George (Redcross Knight) as a central figure in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. William Shakespeare firmly placed St George within the national conscience in his play Henry V, in which the English troops are rallied with the cry “God for Harry, England and St George,” and in Richard III, and King Lear.

        Advance our standards, set upon our foes Our ancient world of courage fair
        St. George Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons
        ..... Richard III. act v, sc.3.

        Come not between the Dragon and his wrath.....Shakespeare. King Lear. Act I, Sc 2
        Saint George and the Dragon, tinted alabaster, English, ca 1375–1420 (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
        In 1963, in the Roman Catholic Church, St George was demoted to a third class minor saint and removed from the Universal Calendar, with the proviso that he could be honoured in local calendars. Pope John Paul II in 2000 restored St George to the Calendar, and he appears in Missals as the English Patron Saint.

        With the revival of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, there has been renewed interest within England in Saint George, whose memory had been in abeyance for many years. This is most evident in the St George's flags which now have replaced Union Flags in stadiums where English sports teams compete. Above the Palace of Westminster, there are six shields above each of the four clock faces of Big Ben, twenty-four in total, all depicting the arms of St George, representing the Flag of England, London as the Capital City of England, and St. George as the Patron Saint of England. This symbolism is also repeated in the Central Lobby of the Houses of Parliament, in an enormous mosaic created by Sir Edward John Poynter in 1869, depicting St George and the Dragon with these arms &c, entitled “St George for England.”

        St George's Day is also celebrated each year in London with a day of celebration run by the Greater London Authority and the London Mayor. The UK Houses of Parliament also celebrate St George's Day each year with a reception and other events, organised by the St. George's Day All Party Parliamentary Group, including providing every MP with a red rose to wear in his/her lapel.

        The city of Salisbury holds an annual St George’s Day pageant, the origins of which are believed to go back to the thirteenth century.


        Church of Saint George in Lalibela, Ethiopia.
        The cult of Saint George reached Ethiopia in the fifteenth century, when his story was translated into Amharic. He would eventually become patron saint of the nation. The exact origin of his cult spreading to Ethiopia is disputed; some believe it came from the Greek legend of Perseus, which may have originated in Ethiopia, and who, like Saint George, slew an evil creature to save a woman. Others believe it came from the Coptic Church in Egypt, which featured equestrian saints, which include Saint George.

        Today there is an important church in Lalibela, one of the holiest cities in Ethiopia, dedicated to the saint, which attracts pilgrims. Addis Ababa's cathedral is also dedicated to the saint, and the city's main football club is also called Saint George F.C.


        Abbot Hatto (888-913) of the Monastic Island of Reichenau had a St George's Church erected, after he had received relics from the hands of Pope Formosus. The later Archbishop of Mainz made a major contribution to spread the veneration of Saint George throughout East Francia. The Georgslied, a set of poems and hymns to Saint George in Old High German was composed on Reichenau island and the scholar Hermann of Reichenau wrote a Historia sancti Georgii in the mid 11th century, which today is lost.

        About 1056 Archbishop Anno II of Cologne had the St George's Basilica erected, one of the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne. About 30 years later, former Vogts of Reichenau Abbey established the St. George's Abbey in the Black Forest. Saint George was also a patron saint of the Teutonic Knights, the State of the Teutonic Order and present-day Lithuania. Emperor Maximilian I (1493–1519), the "Last Knight", chose Saint George his personal tutelar.

        Saint George is the patron saint of the German city of Freiburg im Breisgau.


        One of the Main pilgrimages of St. George in Kerala is at Edappally (Ernakulam District), where the feast is celebrated on May 4. Edathwa also attracts thousands of pilgrims. Angamaly Basilica is named after St. George. In all Christian families in India, especially Kerala, the name George or Varghese is very popular.

        There are numerous churches dedicated to Saint George in India especially in [Kerala] practicing Oriental Orthodoxy. There are also countless shrines to St. George in Kerala, India. On the banks of the Kodoor river in the district of Kottayam in Kerala, the village of Puthupally is known for its 16th-century St. George Orthodox Syrian Church. The feast of this church, held on May 6 and May 7, is famous and attracts many pilgrims from all over Kerala. It is one of the largest pilgrim centers of Saint George in India, where they celebrate his feast on the first Saturday and Sunday in the month of May.

        A Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint George in Puthiyathura, Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, is also a pilgrim centre with an annual St George's Day celebration. In Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari district, Nagercoil Town, Thalavaipuram -- a famous church for St George and the people of the town—celebrates the feast of St George for ten days from the second Friday of May every year.


        In Italy, Saint George is one of the Patron Saints of Locorotondo, Genoa, Milan, as well as the patron saint of Ferrara and Reggio Calabria. Saint George is also the patron saint of San Giorgio La Molara, a small commune in southern Italy (20 km from Benevento). The historical bank that was the backbone of the Republic of Genoa, "Repubblica Marinara di Genova", was dedicated to St George, "Banco di San Giorgio". The power of the Repubblica passing from commerce to banking, Genoa lent money to all the European countries and sovereigns, so the power of the "Repubblica" was identified with its patron saint.

        Throughout the province of Ferrara the cult of Saint George is remarkable for a medieval belief that the dragon Saint George defeated inhabited the Po. Actually the dragon has to be considered as a metaphor for the fear of Po river frequent floods that threatened to completely destroy Ferrara and the small hamlets next to it. The former cathedral and the newer 12th century basilique cathedral of the city (Ferrara Cathedral) are both dedicated to the legendary Saint. Further notable churches named after the cappadocian saint are in the Province of Ragusa, in the southern part of Sicily, in the cities of Modica (whose patron is St. George) and in Ragusa. Both of them are in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.


        Saint George is the patron saint of Beirut, Lebanon. Many bays around Lebanon are named after Saint George, particularly the Saint George Bay in Beirut.

        The Saint George Bay in Beirut is believed to be the place where the dragon lived and where it was slain. In Lebanon, Saint George is believed to have cleaned off his spear at a massive rocky cave running into the hillside and overlooking the beautiful Jounieh Bay. Others argue it is at the Bay of Tabarja. The waters of both caves are believed to have miraculous powers for healing ailing children.

        An ancient gilded icon of St. George at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut has been a major attraction for : Greek Orthodox, Copts, Catholics, Maronites and some Muslims, for many centuries. Many churches are named in honor of the saint in Lebanon.


        The George Cross appears on the flag of Malta.
        Saint George is also one of the patron saints of the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. In a battle between the Maltese and the Moors in 1429, Saint George was alleged to have been seen with Saint Paul and Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese. Two parishes are dedicated to Saint George in Malta and Gozo, the Parish of Qormi, Malta and the Parish of Victoria, Gozo. Besides being the patron of Victoria where a St. George's Basilica, Malta is dedicated to him, St George is the protector of the island Gozo.

        The George Cross was awarded to the entire island of Malta for their courage and endurance during World War II. In a letter dated 15 April 1942, King George VI, stated: "To honour her brave people, I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history." Since that time, the George Cross has appeared on the Flag of Malta.


        The cult of Saint George is widespread in Montenegro, where he is one of the country's patron saints. As in Serbia, his day, known in the local language as Đurđevdan (Serbian: Ђурђевдан – George's day), is an important religious holiday. It is held on April 23 in the Julian calendar, corresponding to May 6 in the Gregorian calendar. One of Montenegro's islands is called Sveti Đorđe (Serbian Cyrillic: Свети Ђорђе), where there is a monastery devoted to the saint.


        Tomb of Saint George in Lod, Israel
        The Feast of Saint George is celebrated by both the Palestinian Christians, whose patron saint is George, and many Muslims, especially in the areas around Bethlehem where he is believed to have lived in his childhood. 

        Christian houses can be identified with a stone-engraved picture of the saint (known as Mar Jirjes) in front of their homes for his protection. In one hotel in Bethlehem, Saint George appears over the lift, as well as many other places throughout the structure.

        In the town of Beit Jala, just west of Bethlehem stands a statue of Saint George carved of stone depicting the saint on his horse while fighting the dragon. The statue stands in the town's main square.

        There is also a mid-sized town just west of Bethlehem named al-Khader in his honour. The town contains a 16th century monastery known as the Monastery of Saint George.  St. George Orthodox Monastery, or Monastery of St. George of Koziba is a monastery located in Wadi Qelt, in the eastern West Bank. The sixth-century cliff-hanging complex, with its ancient chapel and gardens, is active and inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks. It is reached by a pedestrian bridge across the Wadi Qelt, which many imagine to be Psalm 23's Valley of the Shadow. The valley parallels the old Roman road to Jericho, the backdrop for the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). The monastery is open to pilgrims and visitors.

        St. George's Monastery
        St. George's Monastery began in the fourth century with a few monks who sought the desert experiences of the prophets, and settled around a cave where they believed Elijah was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:5-6).

        This Greek Orthodox monastery was built in the late 5th century A.D. by John of Thebes. He became a hermit and moved from Egypt to Syria Palaestina in 480 CE. The monastery was named St. George after the most famous monk who lived at the site – Gorgias of Coziba. Destroyed in 614 CE by the Persians, the monastery was more or less abandoned after the Persians swept through the valley and massacred the fourteen monks who dwelt there. The Crusaders made some attempts at restoration in 1179. However, it fell into disuse after their expulsion. In 1878, a Greek monk, Kalinikos, settled here and restored the monastery, finishing it in 1901. The traditions attached to the monastery include a visit by Elijah en route to the Sinai Peninsula, and St. Joachim, whose wife Anne was infertile, weeping here when an angel announced to him the news of Mary's conception. The bones and skulls of the martyred monks killed by the Persians in 614 CE can still be seen today in the monastery chapel.

        The monastery is located 20 km/12.5 mi from Jerusalem on the road to Jericho. There is a sign posted to the monastery, which goes off on the left from the rather higher north side which there is the first view of the gorge of the Wadi Qelt. From the parking lot there is a path only suitable for all-terrain vehicles which runs northeast (about 1.25 hours on foot) to a hill with a cross, from which there is a view of the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. George and far to the left, a rivulet flowing down the hillside from a spring, from which water is channeled to the monastery. The stony track continues (another half-hour's walk), to the entrance to the monastery, which clings precariously to the sheer north face of the gorge.


        St. George Castle in Lisbon, Portugal
        Apparently, the English crusaders who helped King Afonso Henriques (1109–1185) in the conquest of Lisbon in 1147, introduced a devotion to Saint George to Portugal. Nevertheless, it was not until the time of King Afonso IV (1291–1357) that the use of São Jorge!! (Saint George) as a battle cry, substituted for the former Sant'Iago!! (Saint James). Nuno Álvares Pereira (1360–1431), Saint Constable of Portugal, considered Saint George the leader of the Portuguese victory in the battle of Aljubarrota. King John I (1357–1433) was also a devotee of the saint and was in his reign that Saint George replaced Saint James as the main patron saint of Portugal. In 1387, he ordered that its image on horse be carried in the Corpus Christi procession.


        12th Century Đurđevi stupovi, Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint George, in the ancient city of Ras in Serbia.
        "Đurđevdan" (Serbian: Ђурђевдан – George's day) is a Serbian religious holiday, celebrated on April 23 by the Julian calendar (May 6 by Gregorian calendar), which is the feast of Saint George and a very important Slava.  He is one of the most important Christian saints in Orthodox churches. This holiday is attached to the tradition of celebrating the beginning of spring. Christian synaxaria hold that St. George was a martyr who died for his faith. 

        Đurđevi stupovi (Serbian Cyrillic: Ђурђеви cтупови) (English: The Tracts of Saint George, often incorrectly translated as The Pillars of Saint George) is a 12th-century Serbian Orthodox monastery located in the vicinity of today's city of Novi Pazar, in the Raška region of Serbia. The Tracts of Saint George Monastery is near Novi Pazar, on the top of prominent elevation covered with woods. Monastery was erected around 1170 year as an endowment of Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja. The monastery is exceptional not only for its position and significance it had according to biographic texts, but also for its particular architecture. It was named after the church dedicated to Saint George and its two former bell towers, two high towers – pillars (old Slavic language- stolp, stub). Namely, according to Stefan Prvovencani, Nemanja had built this church to commemorate his gratitude to St. George for saving him from dungeons-caves where he was put by his brothers. 

        The monastery complex consisted of church of Saint George, dining-room, refectory, water tanks and walls around entry tower. The architecture of the Saint George Pillars Monastery is very characteristic representing unique synthesis of two medieval construction concepts, Byzantine in the East and Roman in the West. Monastery is a building with a set of architectural and construction innovation in that period, among which there are two remarkable towers, lateral vestibules, cupola with elliptic basis, irregular shape of altar area, as well as specific arrangement of the central dome space of the church. Single-aisle temple with the alter consisting of three apses, naos and narthex, in its external appearance reflects the spirit of Roman construction. The combination of Byzantine spatial arrangement and Roman architecture resulted in original symbiosis that has been the ground for special architectural style. The entry tower, after the additional construction of apses in the east side in 1282-83, had been turned into chapel that king Dragutin designed for his tomb. The inside of the chapel is covered by frescos with historical content and portraits of the Nemanjics. The frescoes of this Monastery, rendered in the best tradition of the Comnenus style and skillfully adapted to the architecture of the temple, which is especially pronounced in the all-embracing cupola, have particular value. The most impressive is the picture of Saint George on the horse, which is above the main entrance in the church. Beside this very distinctive one are frescoes of four Serbian state councils where important decisions related to the Serbian history were made. A small building has been erected in front of the monastery and it is used as a museum for the protection and exhibition of the most important fragments from church and other structures, where some have been fully composed and reconstructed. As a part of the entity Stari Ras with Sopocani, Saint George Pillars Monastery has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1979 and it is on the Transromanica Route.


        In Spain, Saint George also came to be considered as the patron saint of the medieval Crown of Aragon, the territory of four current autonomous communities of Spain: Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Nowadays Saint George is the saint patron of both Aragon and Catalonia, as well as the saint patron of historically important Spanish towns such as Cáceres or Alcoi (Spanish language: San Jorge, Catalan language: Sant Jordi, Aragonese language: San Chorche).

        His feast date, April 23, is one of the most important holidays in Catalonia, where it is traditional to give a present to the loved one; red roses for women and books for men. In Aragon it is a public holiday, celebrated as the 'National Day of Aragon'. It is also a public holiday in Castile and Leon, where the day commemorates the defeat at the Revolt of the Comuneros.


        Saint George's Monastery, Homs
        Saint George Monastery or Deir Mar Georges (Arabic: دير مار جرجس‎) is a historic Antiochian Orthodox monastery located in northwestern Syria's "Valley of the Christians" (وادي النصارة, Wadi al-Nasara) in the town of Meshtaye, a village belonging to the Homs Governorate, just a few kilometers north of the famous castle Krak des Chevaliers.

        The valley is a regional center of Greek Orthodox Christianity since the 6th century. 27 of its 32 villages are today Christian.

        It is said that the monastery was built over remains of an ancient statue of the god Homerus by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I sometime in the 5th century. The monastery occupies a 6,000 m² land and was built entirely from Byzantine styled stone. The modern church was rebuilt in 1857. Most of the older monastery's items are preserved and displayed in the monastery. Its entrance features a triple arch and two central supporting columns of Byzantine origin. A historical big stone with religious carvings can be found in the monastery's southern gate. The wooden iconostasis found inside the church are decorated with impressive carvings and are magnificent presentations of art, its gold painted icons depict various scenes from the life of Christ. Beneath the monastery's main courtyard there is an older 13th century chapel with a smaller iconostasis, older than 300 years, its icons depict scenes from the life of Saint George (a popular saint among Middle Eastern Christians). At this lower level there is also an entrance to what is believed to be the original 6th century monastery and several large amphoras. The Saint George Monastery also displays many other ancient items like crosses, writings, books, carvings, goblets, and other tools. It is also home to a manuscript written by the caliph Omar bin al-Khattab, which discussed the relationships between Muslims and Christians.

        The monastery is busiest during pilgrimages at the feast of Saint George (May 6) and the feast of the elevation of the Holy Cross on (September 14).

        United States

        As with many other NATO countries, St. George is the patron saint of the U.S. Army's Armor Branch. The United States Armor Association awards the Saint George Award to tankers and cavalry troopers in a knighting ceremony.

         The Saint George Award, formally the Order of Saint George Medallion, is the top award given to members of the Army's mounted force by the United States Armor Association of the United States Army. The award is issued as a bronze, silver, black, or gold medallion, depending on the recipient's eligibility. The United States Armor Association began its awards program in 1986.[1] Its named in honor of Saint George, who is the patron of mounted warriors and is often depicted on horseback. The Saint George Award program provides the mounted force with a way to recognize outstanding performers, their spouses (Order of St. Joan D'Arc Medallion) and Armor Force supporters (Noble Patron of Armor Award).


        St George is the patron saint of the Boy Scouts of America.  The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with 2.7 million youth members and over 1 million adult volunteers. Since its founding in 1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA.

        The BSA goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to inculcate typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.

        The BSA is a constituent member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. The traditional Scouting divisions are Cub Scouting for boys ages 7 to 10½ years, Boy Scouting for boys ages 10½ to 18 and Venturing for young men and women ages 14 (or 13 and have completed the 8th grade) through 21. Learning for Life is a non-traditional subsidiary that provides in-school and career education. The BSA operates traditional Scouting by chartering local organizations, such as churches, clubs, civic associations, or educational organization, to implement the scouting program for youth within their communities. Units are led entirely by volunteers appointed by the chartering organization, who are supported by local councils using both paid Professional Scouters and volunteers.

        The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association (B-PSA) is a youth organisation found in the United Kingdom, with affiliations in various countries. Baden-Powell Scouting focuses on the importance of tradition in the Scout movement. Japan, Argentina, Malaysia, Germany, Denmark, Ghana, Canada and the United States have traditional organisations that are affiliated to the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association (B-PSA).

        The Baden-Powell Scout Association shares the heritage of the youth Scouting Movement, however they believe in a more traditional way of Scouting which closely follows the program set out by General Robert Baden-Powell in his book: Scouting for Boys.

        It was formed in the United Kingdom in 1970 when it was felt that rest of the Scout Movement was abandoning the traditions and intentions set out by Baden-Powell in 1907. The Baden-Powell Scouts retain the belief that essence of the movement should be based on outdoor activities related to the skills of explorers, backwoodsmen and frontiersmen.

        It is a voluntary, non-formal educational charity movement for young people. It is independent, non-political, non-military, and open to all without distinction of origin, race, creed or gender, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by Robert Baden-Powell.

        As an independent Scout Association, they are members of the World Federation of Independent Scouts (WFIS). The WFIS was formed in Laubach, Germany, in 1996 by Lawrie Dring, President of the B-PSA, a British Scouter with the independent Baden-Powell Scouts' Association (B-PSA). This is a world body that recognises Independent Scouts Associations in countries across the globe which teach traditional Baden-Powell Scouting values. Their aim is to improve the standard of our future citizens with the object of using their efficiency for service for their fellows.

        The St. George's Award is the highest youth award achievable in the Senior Scouts section of the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association. The St. George's Award, like the Queen's Scout Award, is conferred on the recipient; you are not awarded the St. George's Award, you become a St. George's Scout. The Award is named for St. George, the patron saint of Scouting, and marks the completion of many requirements met during their time in the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association. The St. George's Award needs to be completed before the Senior Scout's 18th birthday.



        Today's Snippet II:  Byzantine Kingdom Part II


        Split between Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism (1054)

        The Macedonian period also included events of momentous religious significance. The conversion of the Bulgarians, Serbs and Rus' to Orthodox Christianity permanently changed the religious map of Europe and still resonates today. Cyril and Methodius, two Byzantine Greek brothers from Thessaloniki, contributed significantly to the Christianisation of the Slavs and in the process devised the Glagolitic alphabet, ancestor to the Cyrillic script.

        In 1054, relations between the Eastern and Western traditions within the Christian Church reached a terminal crisis, known as the Great Schism. Although there was a formal declaration of institutional separation, on 16 July, when three papal legates entered the Hagia Sophia during Divine Liturgy on a Saturday afternoon and placed a bull of excommunication on the altar, the so-called Great Schism was actually the culmination of centuries of gradual separation.

        Crisis and fragmentation

        The seizure of Edessa in Syria (1031) by the Byzantines led by George Maniakes, and the Arabic counterattack.
        The Empire soon fell into a period of difficulties, caused to a large extent by the undermining of the theme system and the neglect of the military. Nikephoros II Phokas (reigned 963–969), John Tzimiskes and Basil II changed the military divisions (τάγματα, tagmata) from a rapid response, primarily defensive, citizen army into a professional, campaigning army increasingly manned by mercenaries. Mercenaries, however, were expensive and as the threat of invasion receded in the 10th century, so did the need for maintaining large garrisons and expensive fortifications.

        Basil II left a burgeoning treasury upon his death, but neglected to plan for his succession. None of his immediate successors had any particular military or political skill and the administration of the Empire increasingly fell into the hands of the civil service. Efforts to revive the Byzantine economy only resulted in inflation and a debased gold coinage. The army was now seen as both an unnecessary expense and a political threat. Therefore, native troops were cashiered and replaced by foreign mercenaries on specific contract.

        At the same time, the Empire was faced with new enemies. Provinces in southern Italy faced the Normans, who arrived in Italy at the beginning of the 11th century. During a period of strife between Constantinople and Rome that ended in the East-West Schism of 1054, the Normans began to advance, slowly but steadily, into Byzantine Italy. Reggio, the capital of the tagma of Calabria, was captured in 1060 by Robert Guiscard, followed by Otranto in 1068. Bari, the main Byzantine stronghold in Apulia, was besieged in August 1068 and fell in April 1071. The Byzantines also lost their influence over the Dalmatian coastal cities to Peter Krešimir IV of Croatia (r. 1058–1074/1075) in 1069.

        It was in Asia Minor, however, that the greatest disaster would take place. The Seljuq Turks made their first explorations across the Byzantine frontier into Armenia in 1065 and in 1067. The emergency lent weight to the military aristocracy in Anatolia who, in 1068, secured the election of one of their own, Romanos IV Diogenes, as emperor. In the summer of 1071, Romanos undertook a massive eastern campaign to draw the Seljuks into a general engagement with the Byzantine army.

        At Manzikert, Romanos not only suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Sultan Alp Arslan, but was also captured. Alp Arslan treated him with respect, and imposed no harsh terms on the Byzantines. In Constantinople, a coup took place in favour of Michael Doukas, who soon faced the opposition of Nikephoros Bryennios and Nikephoros III Botaneiates. By 1081, the Seljuks expanded their rule over virtually the entire Anatolian plateau from Armenia in the east to Bithynia in the west and founded their capital at Nicaea, just 90 km from Constantinople.

        Komnenian dynasty and the crusaders

        Alexios I, founder of the Komnenos dynasty.

        The period from about 1081 to about 1185 is often known as the Komnenian or Comnenian period, after the Komnenos dynasty. Together, the five Komnenian emperors (Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I) ruled for 104 years, presiding over a sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire. Though the Seljuk Turks occupied the Empire's heartland in Anatolia, it was against Western powers that most Byzantine military efforts were directed, particularly the Normans.

        The Empire under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, which Alexios I had helped bring about, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea under John and Manuel. Contact between Byzantium and the "Latin" West, including the Crusader states, increased significantly during the Komnenian period. Venetian and other Italian traders became resident in Constantinople and the empire in large numbers (there were an estimated 60,000 Latins in Constantinople alone, out of a population of three to four hundred thousand), and their presence together with the numerous Latin mercenaries who were employed by Manuel helped to spread Byzantine technology, art, literature and culture throughout the Latin West, while also leading to a flow of Western ideas and customs into the Empire.

        In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Komnenian period was one of the peaks in Byzantine history, and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in terms of size, wealth, and culture. There was a renewed interest in classical Greek philosophy, as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek. Byzantine art and literature held a pre-eminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west during this period was enormous and of long lasting significance.

        Alexios I and the First Crusade

        The Byzantine Empire and the Sultanate of Rûm before the First Crusade.
        After Manzikert, a partial recovery (referred to as the Komnenian restoration) was made possible by the efforts of the Komnenian dynasty. The first emperor of this dynasty was Isaac I (1057–1059) and the second Alexios I. At the very outset of his reign, Alexios faced a formidable attack by the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemund of Taranto, who captured Dyrrhachium and Corfu, and laid siege to Larissa in Thessaly. Robert Guiscard's death in 1085 temporarily eased the Norman problem. The following year, the Seljuq sultan died, and the sultanate was split by internal rivalries. By his own efforts, Alexios defeated the Pechenegs; they were caught by surprise and annihilated at the Battle of Levounion on 28 April 1091.Having achieved stability in the West, Alexios could turn his attention to the severe economic difficulties and the disintegration of the Empire's traditional defences. However, he still did not have enough manpower to recover the lost territories in Asia Minor and to advance against the Seljuks. At the Council of Piacenza in 1095, Alexios' envoys spoke to Pope Urban II about the suffering of the Christians of the East, and underscored that without help from the West they would continue to suffer under Muslim rule.

        Urban saw Alexios' request as a dual opportunity to cement Western Europe and reunite the Eastern Orthodox Churches with the Roman Catholic Church under his rule. On 27 November 1095, Pope Urban II called together the Council of Clermont, and urged all those present to take up arms under the sign of the Cross and launch an armed pilgrimage to recover Jerusalem and the East from the Muslims. The response in Western Europe was overwhelming.

        Alexios had anticipated help in the form of mercenary forces from the West, but was totally unprepared for the immense and undisciplined force that soon arrived in Byzantine territory. It was no comfort to Alexios to learn that four of the eight leaders of the main body of the Crusade were Normans, among them Bohemund. Since the crusade had to pass through Constantinople, however, the Emperor had some control over it. He required its leaders to swear to restore to the empire any towns or territories they might conquer from the Turks on their way to the Holy Land. In return, he gave them guides and a military escort.

        Alexios was able to recover a number of important cities and islands, and in fact much of western Asia Minor. Nevertheless, the crusaders believed their oaths were invalidated when Alexios did not help them during the siege of Antioch (he had in fact set out on the road to Antioch, but had been persuaded to turn back by Stephen of Blois, who assured him that all was lost and that the expedition had already failed). Bohemund, who had set himself up as Prince of Antioch, briefly went to war with the Byzantines, but agreed to become Alexios' vassal under the Treaty of Devol in 1108, which marked the end of Norman threat during Alexios' reign.

        John II, Manuel I and the Second Crusade

        Medieval manuscript depicting the Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade.
        Alexios's son John II Komnenos succeeded him in 1118, and ruled until 1143. John was a pious and dedicated Emperor who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered at the Battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier. Famed for his piety and his remarkably mild and just reign, John was an exceptional example of a moral ruler, at a time when cruelty was the norm. For this reason, he has been called the Byzantine Marcus Aurelius.

        In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the West, decisively defeated the Pechenegs at the Battle of Beroia, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the East, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the peninsula. He also thwarted Hungarian, and Serbian threats during the 1120s, and in 1130 allied himself with the German emperor Lothair III against the Norman king Roger II of Sicily.

        In the later part of his reign, John focused his activities on the East. He defeated the Danishmend emirate of Melitene, and reconquered all of Cilicia, while forcing Raymond of Poitiers, Prince of Antioch, to recognise Byzantine suzerainty. In an effort to demonstrate the Emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into the Holy Land at the head of the combined forces of the Empire and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the treachery of his Crusader allies. In 1142, John returned to press his claims to Antioch, but he died in the spring of 1143 following a hunting accident. Raymond was emboldened to invade Cilicia, but he was defeated and forced to go to Constantinople to beg mercy from the new Emperor.

        The Byzantine Empire in orange, c. 1180, at the end of the Komnenian period.
        John's chosen heir was his fourth son, Manuel I Komnenos, who campaigned aggressively against his neighbours both in the west and in the east. In Palestine, he allied himself with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and sent a large fleet to participate in a combined invasion of Fatimid Egypt. Manuel reinforced his position as overlord of the Crusader states, with his hegemony over Antioch and Jerusalem secured by agreement with Raynald, Prince of Antioch, and Amalric, King of Jerusalem respectively.

        In an effort to restore Byzantine control over the ports of southern Italy, he sent an expedition to Italy in 1155, but disputes within the coalition led to the eventual failure of the campaign. Despite this military setback, Manuel's armies successfully invaded the Kingdom of Hungary in 1167, defeating the Hungarians at the Battle of Sirmium. By 1168, nearly the whole of the eastern Adriatic coast lay in Manuel's hands. Manuel made several alliances with the Pope and Western Christian kingdoms, and successfully handled the passage of the Second Crusade through his empire.

        In the east, Manuel suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Myriokephalon, in 1176, against the Turks. Yet the losses were quickly made good, and in the following year Manuel's forces inflicted a defeat upon a force of "picked Turks". The Byzantine commander John Vatatzes, who destroyed the Turkish invaders at the Battle of Hyelion and Leimocheir, not only brought troops from the capital but also was able to gather an army along the way; a sign that the Byzantine army remained strong and that the defensive program of western Asia Minor was still successful.

        12th-century Renaissance

        'The Lamentation of Christ' (1164), a fresco from the church of Saint Panteleimon in Nerezi near Skopje. It is considered a superb example of 12th century Komnenian art.
        John and Manuel pursued active military policies, and both deployed considerable resources on sieges and on city defences; aggressive fortification policies were at the heart of their imperial military policies. Despite the defeat at Myriokephalon, the policies of Alexios, John and Manuel resulted in vast territorial gains, increased frontier stability in Asia Minor, and secured the stabilisation of the Empire's European frontiers. From circa 1081 to circa 1180, the Komnenian army assured the Empire's security, enabling Byzantine civilisation to flourish.

        This allowed the Western provinces to achieve an economic revival that continued until the close of the century. It has been argued that Byzantium under the Komnenian rule was more prosperous than at any time since the Persian invasions of the 7th century. During the 12th century, population levels rose and extensive tracts of new agricultural land were brought into production. Archaeological evidence from both Europe and Asia Minor shows a considerable increase in the size of urban settlements, together with a notable upsurge in new towns. Trade was also flourishing; the Venetians, the Genoese and others opened up the ports of the Aegean to commerce, shipping goods from the Crusader kingdoms of Outremer and Fatimid Egypt to the west and trading with the Empire via Constantinople.

        In artistic terms, there was a revival in mosaic, and regional schools of architecture began producing many distinctive styles that drew on a range of cultural influences. During the 12th century, the Byzantines provided their model of early humanism as a renaissance of interest in classical authors. In Eustathius of Thessalonica, Byzantine humanism found its most characteristic expression. In philosophy, there was resurgence of classical learning not seen since the 7th century, characterised by a significant increase in the publication of commentaries on classical works. In addition, it is during the Komnenian period that there occurs the first transmission of classical Greek knowledge towards the West.

        Decline and disintegration

        Dynasty of the Angeloi

        Iconium was won by the Third Crusade.
        Manuel's death on 24 September 1180 left his 11-year-old son Alexios II Komnenos on the throne. Alexios was highly incompetent at the office, but it was his mother, Maria of Antioch, and her Frankish background that made his regency unpopular. Eventually, Andronikos I Komnenos, a grandson of Alexios I, launched a revolt against his younger relative and managed to overthrow him in a violent coup d'état.

        Utilizing his good looks and his immense popularity with the army, he marched on to Constantinople in August 1182, and incited a massacre of the Latins. After eliminating his potential rivals, he had himself crowned as co-emperor in September 1183. He eliminated Alexios II, and took his 12-year-old wife Agnes of France for himself.

        Andronikos began his reign well; in particular, the measures he took to reform the government of the Empire have been praised by historians. According to George Ostrogorsky, Andronikos was determined to root out corruption: Under his rule, the sale of offices ceased; selection was based on merit, rather than favouritism; officials were paid an adequate salary so as to reduce the temptation of bribery. In the provinces, Andronikos's reforms produced a speedy and marked improvement.

        The aristocrats were infuriated against him, and to make matters worse, Andronikos seems to have become increasingly unbalanced; executions and violence became increasingly common, and his reign turned into a reign of terror. Andronikos seemed almost to seek the extermination of the aristocracy as a whole. The struggle against the aristocracy turned into wholesale slaughter, while the Emperor resorted to ever more ruthless measures to shore up his regime.

        Despite his military background, Andronikos failed to deal with Isaac Komnenos, Béla III of Hungary (r. 1172–1196) who reincorporated Croatian territories into Hungary, and Stephen Nemanja of Serbia (r. 1166–1196) who declared his independence from the Byzantine Empire. Yet, none of these troubles would compare to William II of Sicily's (r. 1166–1189) invasion force of 300 ships and 80,000 men, arriving in 1185. Andronikos mobilised a small fleet of 100 ships to defend the capital but other than that he was indifferent to the populace. He was finally overthrown when Isaac Angelos, surviving an imperial assassination attempt, seized power with the aid of the people and had Andronikos killed.

        The reign of Isaac II, and, still more, that of his brother Alexios III, saw the collapse of what remained of the centralised machinery of Byzantine government and defence. Although, the Normans were driven out of Greece, in 1186 the Vlachs and Bulgars began a rebellion that led to the formation of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The internal policy of the Angeloi was characterised by the squandering of the public treasure, and fiscal maladministration. Imperial authority was severely weakened, and the growing power vacuum at the center of the Empire encouraged fragmentation. There is evidence that some Komnenian heirs had set up a semi-independent state in Trebizond before 1204. According to Alexander Vasiliev, "the dynasty of the Angeloi, Greek in its origin, ... accelerated the ruin of the Empire, already weakened without and disunited within."

        Fourth Crusade

        The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, by Eugène Delacroix (1840).
        In 1198, Pope Innocent III broached the subject of a new crusade through legates and encyclical letters. The stated intent of the crusade was to conquer Egypt, now the centre of Muslim power in the Levant. The crusader army that arrived at Venice in the summer of 1202 was somewhat smaller than had been anticipated, and there were not sufficient funds to pay the Venetians, whose fleet was hired by the crusaders to take them to Egypt. Venetian policy under the ageing and blind but still ambitious Doge Enrico Dandolo was potentially at variance with that of the Pope and the crusaders, because Venice was closely related commercially with Egypt.

        The crusaders accepted the suggestion that in lieu of payment they assist the Venetians in the capture of the (Christian) port of Zara in Dalmatia (vassal city of Venice, which had rebelled and placed itself under Hungary's protection in 1186). The city fell in November 1202 after a brief siege. Innocent, who was informed of the plan but his veto disregarded, was reluctant to jeopardise the Crusade, and gave conditional absolution to the crusaders—not, however, to the Venetians.

        Map to show the partition of the empire following the Fourth Crusade, c. 1204.
        After the death of Theobald III, Count of Champagne, the leadership of the Crusade passed to Boniface of Montferrat, a friend of the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia. Both Boniface and Philip had married into the Byzantine Imperial family. In fact, Philip's brother-in-law, Alexios Angelos, son of the deposed and blinded Emperor Isaac II Angelos, had appeared in Europe seeking aid and had made contacts with the crusaders.

        Alexios offered to reunite the Byzantine church with Rome, pay the crusaders 200,000 silver marks, join the crusade and provide all the supplies they needed to get to Egypt. Innocent was aware of a plan to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and forbade any attack on the city, but the papal letter arrived after the fleets had left Zara.

        Crusader sack of Constantinople (1204)

        The crusaders arrived at the city in the summer of 1203 and quickly attacked, started a major fire that damaged large parts of the city, and seized control of it (first of two times). Alexios III fled from the capital, and Alexios Angelos was elevated to the throne as Alexios IV along with his blind father Isaac. However, Alexios IV and Isaac II were unable to keep their promises and were deposed by Alexios V. Eventually, the crusaders took the city a second time on 13 April 1204 and Constantinople was subjected to pillage and massacre by the rank and file for three days.

        Many priceless icons, relics, and other objects later turned up in Western Europe, a large number in Venice. According to Choniates, a prostitute was even set up on the Patriarchal throne. When Innocent III heard of the conduct of his crusaders, he castigated them in no uncertain terms. But the situation was beyond his control, especially after his legate, on his own initiative, had absolved the crusaders from their vow to proceed to the Holy Land.

        When order had been restored, the crusaders and the Venetians proceeded to implement their agreement; Baldwin of Flanders was elected Emperor and the Venetian Thomas Morosini chosen as Patriarch. The lands divided up among the leaders included most of the former Byzantine possessions, however resistance would continue through the Byzantine remnants of the Nicaea, Trebizond, and Epirus.


        Empire in exile

        After the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Latin crusaders, two Byzantine successor states were established: the Empire of Nicaea, and the Despotate of Epirus. A third one, the Empire of Trebizond was created a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople by Alexios I of Trebizond. Of these three successor states, Epirus and Nicaea stood the best chance of reclaiming Constantinople. The Nicaean Empire struggled, however, to survive the next few decades, and by the mid-13th century it lost much of southern Anatolia.

        The weakening of the Sultanate of Rûm following the Mongol Invasion in 1242–43 allowed many beyliks and ghazis to set up their own principalities in Anatolia, weakening the Byzantine hold on Asia Minor. In time, one of the Beys, Osman I, created an empire that would eventually conquer Constantinople. However, the Mongol Invasion also gave Nicaea a temporary respite from Seljuk attacks allowing it to concentrate on the Latin Empire only north of its position.

        Reconquest of Constantinople

        The Byzantine Empire c. 1263.
        The Empire of Nicaea, founded by the Laskarid dynasty, managed to reclaim Constantinople from the Latins in 1261 and defeat Epirus. This led to a short-lived revival of Byzantine fortunes under Michael VIII Palaiologos, but the war-ravaged Empire was ill-equipped to deal with the enemies that now surrounded it. To maintain his campaigns against the Latins, Michael pulled troops from Asia Minor, and levied crippling taxes on the peasantry, causing much resentment. Massive construction projects were completed in Constantinople to repair the damages of the Fourth Crusade, but none of these initiatives was of any comfort to the farmers in Asia Minor, suffering raids from Muslim ghazis.

        Rather than holding on to his possessions in Asia Minor, Michael chose to expand the Empire, gaining only short-term success. To avoid another sacking of the capital by the Latins, he forced the Church to submit to Rome, again a temporary solution for which the peasantry hated Michael and Constantinople. The efforts of Andronikos II and later his grandson Andronikos III marked Byzantium's last genuine attempts in restoring the glory of the Empire. However, the use of mercenaries by Andronikos II would often backfire, with the Catalan Company ravaging the countryside and increasing resentment towards Constantinople.

        Rise of the Ottomans and fall of Constantinople

        The Eastern Mediterranean just before the fall of Constantinople.
        Things went worse for Byzantium during the civil wars that followed after Andronikos III died. A six-year long civil war devastated the empire, allowing the Serbian ruler Stefan IV Dushan (r. 1331–1346) to overrun most of the Empire's remaining territory and establish a short-lived "Serbian Empire". In 1354, an earthquake at Gallipoli devastated the fort, allowing the Ottomans (who were hired as mercenaries during the civil war by John VI Kantakouzenos) to establish themselves in Europe. By the time the Byzantine civil wars had ended, the Ottomans had defeated the Serbians and subjugated them as vassals. Following the Battle of Kosovo, much of the Balkans became dominated by the Ottomans.The Byzantine emperors appealed to the West for help, but the Pope would only consider sending aid in return for a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the See of Rome. Church unity was considered, and occasionally accomplished by imperial decree, but the Orthodox citizenry and clergy intensely resented the authority of Rome and the Latin Rite. Some Western troops arrived to bolster the Christian defence of Constantinople, but most Western rulers, distracted by their own affairs, did nothing as the Ottomans picked apart the remaining Byzantine territories.

        Constantinople by this stage was underpopulated and dilapidated. The population of the city had collapsed so severely that it was now little more than a cluster of villages separated by fields. On 2 April 1453, Sultan Mehmed's army of some 80,000 men and large numbers of irregulars laid siege to the city.

        Despite a desperate last-ditch defence of the city by the massively outnumbered Christian forces (c. 7,000 men, 2,000 of whom were foreign), Constantinople finally fell to the Ottomans after a two-month siege on 29 May 1453. The last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, was last seen casting off his imperial regalia and throwing himself into hand-to-hand combat after the walls of the city were taken.

        Political aftermath

        By the time of the fall of Constantinople, the only remaining territory of the Byzantine Empire was the Despotate of the Morea (Peloponnese), which was ruled by brothers of the last Emperor, Thomas Palaiologos and Demetrios Palaiologos. The Despotate continued on as an independent state by paying an annual tribute to the Ottomans. Incompetent rule, failure to pay the annual tribute and a revolt against the Ottomans finally led to Mehmed II's invasion of Morea in May 1460. Demetrios asked the Ottomans to invade and drive Thomas out. Thomas fled. The Ottomans moved through the Morea and conquered virtually the entire Despotate by the summer. Demetrios thought the Morea would be restored to him to rule, but it was incorporated into the Ottoman fold.

        A few holdouts remained for a time. The island of Monemvasia refused to surrender and it was first ruled for a short time by a Catalan corsair. When the population drove him out they obtained the consent of Thomas to place themselves under the Pope's protection before the end of 1460. The Mani Peninsula, on the Morea's south end, resisted under a loose coalition of the local clans and then that area came under Venice's rule. The very last holdout was Salmeniko, in the Morea's northwest. Graitzas Palaiologos was the military commander there, stationed at Salmeniko Castle. While the town eventually surrendered, Graitzas and his garrison and some town residents held out in the castle until July 1461, when they escaped and reached Venetian territory.

        The Empire of Trebizond, which had split away from the Byzantine Empire just weeks before Constantinople was taken by the Crusaders in 1204, became the last remnant and last de facto successor state to the Byzantine Empire. Efforts by the Emperor David to recruit European powers for an anti-Ottoman crusade provoked war between the Ottomans and Trebizond in the summer of 1461. After a month long siege, David surrendered the city of Trebizond on 14 August 1461. With the fall of Trebizond, the last remnant of the Roman Empire was extinguished.

        The nephew of the last Emperor, Constantine XI, Andreas Palaiologos claimed to have inherited the title of Byzantine Emperor. He lived in the Morea until its fall in 1460, then escaped to Rome where he lived under the protection of the Papal States for the remainder of his life. Since the office of emperor had never been technically hereditary, Andreas' claim would have been without merit under Byzantine law. However, the Empire had vanished, and Western states generally followed the Roman church sanctioned principles of hereditary sovereignty. Seeking a life in the west, Andreas styled himself Imperator Constantinopolitanus ("Emperor of Constantinople"), and sold his succession rights to both Charles VIII of France and the Catholic Monarchs. However, no one ever invoked the title after Andreas's death.

        Mehmed II and his successors continued to consider themselves heirs to the Roman Empire until the demise of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. They considered that they had simply shifted its religious basis as Constantine had done before. Meanwhile, the Danubian Principalities (whose rulers also considered themselves the heirs of the Eastern Roman Emperors) harboured Orthodox refugees, including some Byzantine nobles.

        At his death, the role of the emperor as a patron of Eastern Orthodoxy was claimed by Ivan III, Grand duke of Muscovy. He had married Andreas' sister, Sophia Paleologue, whose grandson, Ivan IV, would become the first Tsar of Russia (tsar, or czar, meaning caesar, is a term traditionally applied by Slavs to the Byzantine Emperors). Their successors supported the idea that Moscow was the proper heir to Rome and Constantinople. The idea of the Russian Empire as the successive Third Rome was kept alive until its demise with the Russian Revolution.



        The Byzantine economy was among the most advanced in Europe and the Mediterranean for many centuries. Europe, in particular, was unable to match Byzantine economic strength until late in the Middle Ages. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa, in particular being the primary western terminus of the famous Silk Road. Until the first half of the 6th century and in sharp contrast with the decaying West, Byzantine economy was flourishing and resilient.

        The Plague of Justinian and the Arab conquests would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of stagnation and decline. Isaurian reforms and, in particular, Constantine V's repopulation, public works and tax measures, marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204, despite territorial contraction. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury and travellers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital.

        The Fourth Crusade resulted in the disruption of Byzantine manufacturing and the commercial dominance of the Western Europeans in the eastern Mediterranean, events that amounted to an economic catastrophe for the Empire. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces. Gradually, it also lost its influence on the modalities of trade and the price mechanisms, and its control over the outflow of precious metals and, according to some scholars, even over the minting of coins.

        One of the economic foundations of Byzantium was trade, fostered by the maritime character of the Empire. Textiles must have been by far the most important item of export; silks were certainly imported into Egypt, and appeared also in Bulgaria, and the West. The state strictly controlled both the internal and the international trade, and retained the monopoly of issuing coinage, maintaining a durable and flexible monetary system adaptable to trade needs.

        The government exercised formal control over interest rates, and set the parameters for the activity of the guilds and corporations, in which it had a special interest. The emperor and his officials intervened at times of crisis to ensure the provisioning of the capital, and to keep down the price of cereals. Finally, the government often collected part of the surplus through taxation, and put it back into circulation, through redistribution in the form of salaries to state officials, or in the form of investment in public works.

        Science, medicine, law

        The frontispiece of the Vienna Dioscurides, which shows a set of seven famous physicians.
        The writings of Classical antiquity never ceased to be cultivated in Byzantium. Therefore, Byzantine science was in every period closely connected with ancient philosophy, and metaphysics. Although at various times the Byzantines made magnificent achievements in the application of the sciences (notably in the construction of the Hagia Sophia), after the 6th century Byzantine scholars made few novel contributions to science in terms of developing new theories or extending the ideas of classical authors.

        Scholarship particularly lagged during the dark years of plague and the Arab conquests, but then during the so-called Byzantine Renaissance at the end of the first millennium Byzantine scholars re-asserted themselves becoming experts in the scientific developments of the Arabs and Persians, particularly in astronomy and mathematics. The Byzantines are also credited with several technological advancements, particularly in architecture (e.g. the pendentive dome) and warfare technology (e.g. Greek fire).

        In the final century of the Empire, Byzantine grammarians were those principally responsible for carrying, in person and in writing, ancient Greek grammatical and literary studies to early Renaissance Italy. During this period, astronomy and other mathematical sciences were taught in Trebizond; medicine attracted the interest of almost all scholars.

        In the field of law, Justinian I's reforms had a clear effect on the evolution of jurisprudence, and Leo III's Ecloga influenced the formation of legal institutions in the Slavic world. In the 10th century, Leo VI the Wise achieved the complete codification of the whole of Byzantine law in Greek, which became the foundation of all subsequent Byzantine law, generating interest to the present day.


        As a symbol and expression of the universal prestige of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Justinian built the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia, which was completed in the short period of four and a half years (532–537).
        The survival of the Empire in the East assured an active role of the Emperor in the affairs of the Church. The Byzantine state inherited from pagan times the administrative, and financial routine of administering religious affairs, and this routine was applied to the Christian Church. Following the pattern set by Eusebius of Caesarea, the Byzantines viewed the Emperor as a representative or messenger of Christ, responsible particularly for the propagation of Christianity among pagans, and for the "externals" of the religion, such as administration and finances. As Cyril Mango points out, the Byzantine political thinking can be summarised in the motto "One God, one empire, one religion".

        The imperial role in the affairs of the Church never developed into a fixed, legally defined system. With the decline of Rome, and internal dissension in the other Eastern Patriarchates, the Church of Constantinople became, between the 6th and 11th centuries, the richest and most influential center of Christendom. Even when the Empire was reduced to only a shadow of its former self, the Church continued to exercise significant influence both inside and outside of the imperial frontiers. As George Ostrogorsky points out:
        The Patriarchate of Constantinople remained the center of the Orthodox world, with subordinate metropolitan sees and archbishoprics in the territory of Asia Minor and the Balkans, now lost to Byzantium, as well as in Caucasus, Russia and Lithuania. The Church remained the most stable element in the Byzantine Empire.
        The official state Christian doctrine was determined by the first seven ecumenical councils, and it was then the emperor's duty to impose it to his subjects. An imperial decree of 388, which was later incorporated into the Codex Justinianus, orders the population of the Empire "to assume the name of Catholic Christians", and regards all those who will not abide by the law as "mad and foolish persons"; as followers of "heretical dogmas".

        Despite imperial decrees and the stringent stance of the state church itself, which came to be known as the Eastern Orthodox Church or Eastern Christianity, the latter never represented all Christians in Byzantium. Mango believes that, in the early stages of the Empire, the "mad and foolish persons", those labelled "heretics" by the state church, were the majority of the population. Besides the pagans, who existed until the end of the 6th century, and the Jews, there were many followers – sometimes even emperors – of various Christian doctrines, such as Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Arianism, and Paulicianism, whose teachings were in some opposition to the main theological doctrine, as determined by the Ecumenical Councils.

        Another division among Christians occurred, when Leo III ordered the destruction of icons throughout the Empire. This led to a significant religious crisis, which ended in mid-9th century with the restoration of icons. During the same period, a new wave of pagans emerged in the Balkans, originating mainly from Slavic people. These were gradually Christianised, and by Byzantium's late stages, Eastern Orthodoxy represented most Christians and, in general, most people in what remained of the Empire.

        Jews were a significant minority in the Byzantine state throughout its history, and, according to Roman law, they constituted a legally recognised religious group. In the early Byzantine period they were generally tolerated, but then periods of tensions and persecutions ensued. In any case, after the Arab conquests, the majority of Jews found themselves outside the Empire; those left inside the Byzantine borders apparently lived in relative peace from the 10th century onwards.

        Art and literature

        Miniatures of the 6th-century Rabula Gospel display the more abstract and symbolic nature of Byzantine art.
        Surviving Byzantine art is mostly religious and with exceptions at certain periods is highly conventionalized, following traditional models that translate carefully controlled church theology into artistic terms. Painting in fresco, illuminated manuscripts and on wood panel and, especially in earlier periods, mosaic were the main media, and figurative sculpture very rare except for small carved ivories. Manuscript painting preserved to the end some of the classical realist tradition that was missing in larger works. Byzantine art was highly prestigous and sought-after in Western Europe, where it maintained a continuous influence on medieval art until near the end of the period. This was especially so in Italy, where Byzantine styles persisted in modified form through the 12th century, and became formative influences on Italian Renaissance art. But few incoming influences affected Byzantine style. By means of the expansion of the Eastern Orthodox church, Byzantine forms and styles spread to all the Orthodox world and beyond.; Influences from Byzantine architecture, particularly in religious buildings, can be found in diverse regions from Egypt and Arabia to Russia and Romania.

        In Byzantine literature, therefore, four different cultural elements must be reckoned with: the Greek, the Christian, the Roman, and the Oriental. Byzantine literature is often classified in five groups: historians and annalists, encyclopaedists (Patriarch Photios, Michael Psellus, and Michael Choniates are regarded as the greatest encyclopaedists of Byzantium) and essayists, and writers of secular poetry (The only genuine heroic epic of the Byzantines is the Digenis Acritas). The remaining two groups include the new literary species: ecclesiastical and theological literature, and popular poetry.

        Of the approximately two to three thousand volumes of Byzantine literature that survive, only three hundred and thirty consist of secular poetry, history, science and pseudo-science. While the most flourishing period of the secular literature of Byzantium runs from the 9th to the 12th century, its religious literature (sermons, liturgical books and poetry, theology, devotional treatises etc.) developed much earlier with Romanos the Melodist being its most prominent representative.

        Government and bureaucracy

        Map of Byzantine Empire showing the themes in circa 650
        The themes, c. 650
        Map of Byzantine Empire showing the themes in circa 950
        The themes, c. 950
        In the Byzantine state, the emperor became the sole and absolute ruler, and his power was regarded as having divine origin.The Senate ceased to have real political and legislative authority but remained as an honorary council with titular members. By the end of the 8th century, a civil administration focused on the court was formed as part of a large-scale consolidation of power in the capital (the rise to pre-eminence of the position of sakellarios is related to this change). The most important administrative reform, which probably started in the mid-7th century, was the creation of themes, where civil and military administration was exercised by one person, the strategos.

        Despite the occasionally derogatory use of the terms "Byzantine" and "Byzantinism", the Byzantine bureaucracy had a distinct ability for reconstituting itself in accordance with the Empire's situation. The elaborate system of titulature and precedence, which gave the court prestige and influence, makes the imperial administration look like an ordered bureaucracy to modern observers. Officials were arranged in strict order around the emperor, and depended upon the imperial will for their ranks. There were also actual administrative jobs, but authority could be vested in individuals rather than offices.

        In the 8th and 9th centuries, civil service constituted the clearest path to aristocratic status, but, starting in the 9th century, the civil aristocracy was rivalled by an aristocracy of nobility. According to some studies of Byzantine government, 11th-century politics were dominated by competition between the civil and the military aristocracy. During this period, Alexios I undertook important administrative reforms, including the creation of new courtly dignities and offices.


        The embassy of John the Grammarian in 829, between the emperor Theophilos and the Abbasid caliph Al-Ma'mun.
        After the fall of Rome, the key challenge to the Empire was to maintain a set of relations between itself and its neighbours. When these nations set about forging formal political institutions, they often modelled themselves on Constantinople. Byzantine diplomacy soon managed to draw its neighbours into a network of international and inter-state relations. This network revolved around treaty making, and included the welcoming of the new ruler into the family of kings, and the assimilation of Byzantine social attitudes, values and institutions. Whereas classical writers are fond of making ethical and legal distinctions between peace and war, Byzantines regarded diplomacy as a form of war by other means. For example, a Bulgarian threat could be countered by providing money to the Kievan Rus'.

        Diplomacy in the era was understood to have an intelligence-gathering function on top of its pure political function. The Bureau of Barbarians in Constantinople handled matters of protocol and record keeping for any issues related to the "barbarians", and thus had, perhaps, a basic intelligence function itself. John B. Bury believed that the office exercised supervision over all foreigners visiting Constantinople, and that they were under the supervision of the Logothetes tou dromou. While on the surface a protocol office – its main duty was to ensure foreign envoys were properly cared for and received sufficient state funds for their maintenance, and it kept all the official translators – it probably had a security function as well.

        Byzantines availed themselves of a number of diplomatic practices. For example, embassies to the capital would often stay on for years. A member of other royal houses would routinely be requested to stay on in Constantinople, not only as a potential hostage, but also as a useful pawn in case political conditions where he came from changed. Another key practice was to overwhelm visitors by sumptuous displays. According to Dimitri Obolensky, the preservation of the ancient civilisation in Europe was due to the skill and resourcefulness of Byzantine diplomacy, which remains one of Byzantium's lasting contributions to the history of Europe.


        The Joshua Roll, a 10th-century illuminated Greek manuscript probably made in Constantinople (Vatican Library, Rome).
        The Mudil Psalter, the oldest complete psalter in the Coptic language (Coptic Museum, Egypt, Coptic Cairo).

        The original language of the government of the Empire, which owed its origins to Rome, had been Latin, and this continued as its official language until the 7th century when it was effectively changed to Greek by Heraclius. Scholarly Latin would rapidly fall into disuse among the educated classes although the language would continue to be at least a ceremonial part of the Empire's culture for some time. Additionally, Vulgar Latin remained a minority language in the Empire, and among the Thraco-Roman populations it gave birth to the Proto-Romanian language.

        Likewise, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, another neo-Latin vernacular developed, which would later give rise to the Dalmatian language. In the Western Mediterranean provinces temporarily acquired under the reign of emperor Justinian I, Latin (eventually evolving into the various western Romance languages) continued to be used both as a spoken language and the language of scholarship.

        Apart from the Imperial court, administration and military, the primary language used in the eastern Roman provinces even before the decline of the Western Empire had always been Greek, having been spoken in the region for centuries before Latin. Indeed early on in the life of the Roman Empire, Greek had become the common language in the Christian Church, the language of scholarship and the arts, and, to a large degree, the lingua franca for trade between provinces and with other nations. The language itself for a time gained a dual nature with the primary spoken language, the constantly developing vernacular Koine (eventually evolving into demotic Greek), existing alongside an older literary language with Koine eventually evolving into the standard dialect.

        Many other languages existed in the multi-ethnic Empire as well, and some of these were given limited official status in their provinces at various times. Notably, by the beginning of the Middle Ages, Syriac and Aramaic had become more widely used by the educated classes in the far eastern provinces. Similarly Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian became significant among the educated in their provinces, and later foreign contacts made the Slavonic, Vlach, and Arabic languages important in the Empire and its sphere of influence.

        Aside from these, since Constantinople was a prime trading center in the Mediterranean region and beyond, virtually every known language of the Middle Ages was spoken in the Empire at some time, even Chinese. As the Empire entered its final decline, the Empire's citizens became more culturally homogeneous and the Greek language became integral to their identity and religion.


        King David in robes of a Byzantine emperor. Miniature from the Paris Psalter.
        Byzantium has been often identified with absolutism, orthodox spirituality, orientalism and exoticism, while the terms "Byzantine" and "Byzantinism" have been used as bywords for decadence, complex bureaucracy, and repression. In the countries of Central and Southeast Europe that exited the Eastern Bloc in late 80s and early 90s, the assessment of Byzantine civilisation and its legacy was strongly negative due to their connection with an alleged "Eastern authoritarianism and autocracy." Both Eastern and Western European authors have often perceived Byzantium as a body of religious, political, and philosophical ideas contrary to those of the West. Even in 19th-century Greece, the focus was mainly on the classical past, while Byzantine tradition had been associated with negative connotations.

        This traditional approach towards Byzantium has been partially or wholly disputed and revised by modern studies, which focus on the positive aspects of Byzantine culture and legacy. Averil Cameron regards as undeniable the Byzantine contribution to the formation of the medieval Europe, and both Cameron and Obolensky recognise the major role of Byzantium in shaping Orthodoxy, which in turn occupies a central position in the history and societies of Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Serbia and other countries. The Byzantines also preserved and copied classical manuscripts, and they are thus regarded as transmitters of the classical knowledge, as important contributors to the modern European civilisation, and as precursors of both the Renaissance humanism and the Slav Orthodox culture.

        As the only stable long-term state in Europe during the Middle Ages, Byzantium isolated Western Europe from newly emerging forces to the East. Constantly under attack, it distanced Western Europe from Persians, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, and for a time, the Ottomans. From a different perspective, since the 7th century, the evolution and constant reshaping of the Byzantine state were directly related to the respective progress of Islam.

        Following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II took the title "Kaysar-i-Rûm" (the Turkish equivalent of Caesar of Rome), since he was determined to make the Ottoman Empire the heir of the Eastern Roman Empire. According to Cameron, regarding themselves as "heirs" of Byzantium, the Ottomans preserved important aspects of its tradition, which in turn facilitated an "Orthodox revival" during the post-communist period of the Eastern European states.


        • Ahrweiler, Hélène; Aymard, Maurice (2000). Les Européens. Paris: Hermann. ISBN 2-7056-6409-2.
        • Angelov, Dimiter (2007). Imperial Ideology and Political Thought in Byzantium (1204–1330). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85703-1.
        • Haldon, John (2001). The Byzantine Wars: Battles and Campaigns of the Byzantine Era. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-1795-9
        • Hussey, J. M. (1966). The Cambridge Medieval History. Vol. IV: The Byzantine Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
        • Runciman, Steven (1966). Byzantine Civilisation. London: Edward Arnold (publisher) Limited. ISBN 1-56619-574-8.
        • Runciman, Steven (1990) [1929]. The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and his Reign. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-06164-4.
        • Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1972). Constantine Porphyrogenitus and His World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-215253-X.


        Catechism of the Catholic Church

        Part Two: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, 

        Section Two: The Seven Sacraments of the Church 

          Chapter 2: Sacrament of the Eucharist

         Article 3:7 The Eucharist - "Pledge of the Glory To Come"


        CHAPTER 2

        VII. The Eucharist - "Pledge of the Glory To Come"
        1402 In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: "O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us." If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace,"Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 96: Supplices te rogamus then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory.

        1403 At the Last Supper the Lord himself directed his disciples' attention toward the fulfillment of the Passover in the kingdom of God: "I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."Mt 26:29; cf. Lk 22:18; Mk 14 25 Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist she remembers this promise and turns her gaze "to him who is to come." In her prayer she calls for his coming: "Marana tha!" "Come, Lord Jesus!" Rev 1:4; 22 20; 1 Cor 16 22 "May your grace come and this world pass away!"Didache 10, 6: SCh 248,180

        1404 The Church knows that the Lord comes even now in his Eucharist and that he is there in our midst. However, his presence is veiled. Therefore we celebrate the Eucharist "awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ,"Roman Missal 126, embolism after the Our Father: expectantes beatam
           spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi; cf. Titus 2:13.
        asking "to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall become like you and praise you for ever through Christ our Lord."EP III 116: prayer for the dead

        1405 There is no surer pledge or dearer sign of this great hope in the new heavens and new earth "in which righteousness dwells,"2 Pet 3:13 than the Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, "the work of our redemption is carried on" and we "break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ."LG 3; St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2: SCh 10, 76

        IN BRIEF
        1406 Jesus said: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and . . . abides in me, and I in him" ( Jn 6:51, 54, 56).
        1407 The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.
        1408 The Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord's body and blood. These elements constitute one single act of worship.
        1409 The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made present by the liturgical action.
        1410 It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. and it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
        1411 Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.
        1412 The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: "This is my body which will be given up for you.... This is the cup of my blood...."
        1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).
        1414 As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.
        1415 Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.
        1416 Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
        1417 The Church warmly recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion each time they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist; she obliges them to do so at least once a year.
        1418 Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord" (Paul VI, MF 66).
        1419 Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.