Saint George was a man who abandoned one army for another: he gave up the rank of tribune to enlist as a soldier for Christ. Eager to encounter the enemy, he first stripped away his worldly wealth by giving all he had to the poor. Then, free and unencumbered, bearing the shield of faith, he plunged into the thick of the battle, an ardent soldier for Christ.
– St Peter Damian
Who was St George?
We all know St George as patron of England and tamer of dragons. The facts of his life are obscure, but he seems to have been a Roman soldier, probably of the late third century, who was martyred at Lydda in Palestine during the great persecution by the Emperor Diocletian, probably for refusing to renounce Christ and worship the Emperor as a god. His cult was very widespread in the east from that time on; when English soldiers went to the Holy Land on Crusade, they were inspired by this warrior saint; Richard the Lionheart put himself and his army under St George’s protection. From then on his popularity in England only grew: Edward III founded the Order of the Garter, with St George as patron, in 1348; Henry V called on St George for aid before the great victory of Agincourt in 1415. Thereafter he was secure as patron of England (although the patronage of two Anglo-Saxon Saint-Kings, Edward the Confessor and Edmund of East Anglia, was not neglected), and his popularity survived the spoliation and wreckage of the Reformation.
Collect for St George
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph’s intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Magnificantes, Domine, potentiam tuam, supplices exoramus, ut, sicut beatus Georgius dominicæ fuit passionis imitator, ita sit fragilitatis nostræ promptus adiutor.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
Today’s Gospel: Luke 9:23-26
To all Jesus said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self? For if anyone is ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.’
Prayer to St George
This prayer to St George can be said for nine days as a novena.
Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, St George, inflamed with a burning love of Christ, you fought against the dragon of pride, falsehood and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, nor the sword nor death could part you from the love of Christ.
I implore you for the sake of this love to help me by your intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry my cross and let neither distress nor difficulty separate me from the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Church encourages us to ask for the intercession of the saints, to locate our prayer within the annual round of the Church’s year, and to make our prayer in the tradition of the great figures of Scripture. The novenas in this beautifully bound collection help us to pray in all of these ways. It contains a rich selection for many different needs and intentions, including popular novenas to our Lady and the Holy Spirit.
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