|St. George the New Martyr at Ptolemais (Feast Day - April 23)|
Now George is gathered with George,
New and old are placed together thither.
New and old are placed together thither.
By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
The victorious New Martyr of Christ, George, came from Cyprus. He was young, handsome, intelligent and moral. Leaving his homeland he came to Ptolemais (modern Acre of Palestine). There he entered the service of one of the European consulates, where he was hired as an attendant to one of its members. George would frequently purchase eggs for his employer's household from a certain poor Turkish woman, who had a daughter of legal age. With the passage of time, the girl began to await his arrival. She spoke freely with him, but only in her mother's absence. Several neighbors noticed that the youth would only buy eggs from this girl (as much as she had), and not from anyone else. They became envious and resentful. They, therefore, took counsel among themselves to make some mischief for George.
One day, as was his custom, he went to buy eggs; and again, the mother was absent and the daughter was alone. As soon as it was observed that the innocent George entered the house, the perverted neighbors hastened to take hold of the youth, screaming and accusing him of asking to become a Muslim that he might take the girl as his wife. A huge crowd of Turks immediately gathered and seized the Saint. They took him to the judge, still shouting the same false allegations. The judge asked George if the charges brought against him were true. The righteous one answered the judge candidly, stating that he had never uttered such a word, nor did he think it, but that out of malice his accusers made these accusations against him. Furthermore, he declared he was a born a Christian and wanted to die a Christian. They promised him expensive gifts, glory and rank; but all these transitory things did not prevail over George. They administered all kinds of punishments to persuade the youth. But the application of torments was unsuccessful, for George persevered in his Orthodox faith. The judge, consequently, issued a death sentence.
Since the following day was Friday, when the Muslims flocked to the mosque which was nearby the sea, they all stood outside the spacious courtyard. The martyr was brought in fetters to that very location. They stood him in the midst and read aloud, in the hearing of the entire assembly, his sentence. The spectators, thereupon, commenced flattering the youth and encouraging him to convert. The youth strenuously reproached them. Beholding his firm and unchanging resolve, they attempted to intimidate him into submission. The rabble surrounded George, waving their pistols, crying out with one voice, "Obey us! Agree to come to Islam or else we shall slay you instantly." The valiant confessor of Christ, nevertheless, raised his chained hands heavenward and lifted up his voice, saying, "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit and make me worthy of Your kingdom." Immediately, the Muslims all emptied their pistols into the martyr. As he fell to the ground, they unsheathed their knives and set upon him, stabbing his entire body. Despite this, the scoundrels were not satiated with their evil deed.
Behold the wonders of God and that of the Martyr in the miracle which was wrought! Prior to this lawless assembly, the sea was completely calm. Then all of a sudden, the waves began to roil. Although the distance between the sea and the martyr was further than the range of a rifle shot, yet it raged like a wild beast. The sea exceeded its natural bounds and came up to the relics. The waters, as a servant of God, washed off the sanctified blood flowing from the martyr's wounded body, dying the foam red. Thus, where men failed, the sea testified to the honor and reverence due the relics. The waves then rushed up against the walls of the mosque and the Turkish custom house. When the Ottomans beheld this fearful spectacle, they were terror-stricken; for perhaps the sea would submerge their city. At once, they forced the Christians to come quickly. The faithful, in turn, took the holy athlete's body with honor and openly carried him to the church, where they buried him. Lo, the miracle! The sea immediately subsided and became tranquil again.
In order to glorify His servant and to reward George's unshakeable faith, God, after the martyr's burial, performed the following miracle: for three whole nights, a fiery column appeared out of the heavens and illumined the Saint's grave. The entire city was lit by this most sweet light, which radiated from this pillar of fire. Therefore, in commemoration of the miracle and the indescribably light, every Friday evening to this very day the Christians - a multitude of men, women, children, and especially the infirm - gather at the tomb of the martyr. They light candles and lamps, and they offer incense. Innumerable miracles have occurred, to the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one Divinity and kingdom, to Whom is due glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto the age of ages. Amen.*
* On April 13, 1967 the relics of Saint George were removed from the city of Acre and transferred to the Cathedral of Saint John in Leukosia (Nicosia) of Cyprus.