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October 2, 2015

Holy New Martyr George the Sandalmaker from Philadelphia (+ 1794)

St. George the Hatzis (Feast Day - October 2)


You slaughtered the enemy, wherefore you were beheaded by the sword,
And you were allied with the Angels, O George.

Saint George, also known as Hatzi-George, was born to Christian parents in Philadelphia of Asia Minor. As a young man he learned the craft of sandal making, whereupon he moved to the village of Karacasu in the province of Heliopolis where he opened a little shop.

One night, while he was out celebrating with friends, one of them became drunk, fell from a great height and died. According to the local law, a fine was levied in such instances and every Christian present was required to contribute his share of the fine because of the death. George, however, flatly refused to pay his share, contending it was an injustice for one to pay without it being one's fault.

Brought before the judge, George was asked why he did not pay his share. He hastily answered, "Do you have authority to force Muslims to pay a fine when infidels (non-Mulsims) are killed?"

Hearing this, the astounded judge asked George, "And what are you?"

Blinded by anger, George foolishly answered, "I am a Muslim," and at that very moment asked to be circumcised and initiated into the Muslim faith.

Later George deeply regretted his betrayal of Christ, and for the sake of his salvation went to Mount Athos, confessed his sin, was chrismated back into the Orthodox Church, and lived in repentance and asceticism for a period of time.

Yet this did not satisfy George, whose soul was tormented for his denial, for day and night he kept remembering the words of Christ, "Whoever denies Me before men, I too will deny him before My Father" (Matt. 10:33). After desperately seeking the advice of various fathers, he decided to return to his village of Karacasu.

In Karacasu, George was immediately recognized by some Muslims, who brought him before the judge for returning to Orthodoxy based on how he dressed. George confessed his error of abandoning his faith in Christ "which is good and pure gold", for Islam which is "counterfeit" and "copper". And he explained that he returned to "shed my blood for the love of my Christ."

After the judge tried to persuade George to change his mind, and was unsuccessful, he was cast into prison for eight days and beaten very severely and most cruelly. They stretched his legs to the point that they were almost torn apart. They tied a tourniquet around his head and squeezed it to the point that his eyes almost popped out of their sockets. No pain, however, could make George abandon Christ ever again. His only desire was to die an Orthodox Christian.

Finally, after being unable to weaken the resolve of the athlete of Christ George, the judge sentenced him to be beheaded on October 2, 1794 (according to Otto Meinardus, it was 1752).