Today, the feast of St. George, is Pope Francis’ onomastico or name day, a big celebration in Italy. His given name is Jorge – George. A note from the papal Almsgiver states that the Pope wishes to celebrate his name day with the homeless and most needy of Rome. Therefore, today, the Apostolic Almsgiver will distribute 3,000 ice creams to those who daily come to the food kitchens, dormitories and other structures in the capital, run in great part by Caritas.

Matthew Bunson wrote of this saint in EWTN’s Catholic Q&A:

St. George is one of the most popular saints and is honored as a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Spain, Genoa, and Venice, and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is also one of the most venerated martyrs in the Eastern Church.

Little is known of him in terms of historical details, but it is thought he was a martyr in the early 4th century. His existence is generally accepted by scholars. George, called “the Great” in some lists, was a martyr at Diospolis, Lydda (modern Israel).

His deeds were incorporated into the Golden Legend, and he became associated with dragons in Italian accounts of his life. The legends concerning dragons arose in the twelfth century and made him a model knight and a protector of women. George was venerated in England as early as the eighth century and was the patron of the Crusaders. The red cross worn by Crusaders, later seen in the Union Jack and in the decorations of the Order of the Garter in England, are called “St. George’s Arms.”

The Order of the Garter has been under his patronage since its founding in 1347. The cult of St. George is part of the history of the Crusades and England. He has been a popular figure for artists, depicted as a young knight in mortal combat with a dragon, a Middle Ages symbol of evil. The “Arms” of St. George are a red cross in a white ground. Feast day: April 23.

You probably know and/or have visited the church of San Giorgio al Velabro in Rome. Among other things, it is the station church of the first Thursday of Lent. The current church was built during the 7th century, possibly by Pope Leo II, who dedicated it to Saint Sebastian. The church was inside the Greek quarter of Rome, where Greek-speaking merchants, civil and military officers and monks of the Byzantine Empire lived. Pope Zachary (741-752), who was of Greek origin, moved the relic of St. George to here from Cappadocia, so that this saint had a church dedicated in the West well before the spreading of his worship with the return of the Crusaders from the East. (wiki-english)

The saint’s tomb is in Lodd (Lydda) Israel in a Greek Orthodox Monastery:

Best wishes to all those named George (that includes Georgina), Georg, Giorgio, Jorge and Georges (and a few I’ve missed in other languages to be sure)!


April 23rd marks the feast day of St George and the name day of Jorge (George) Mario Bergoglio.

But who is the Saint behind the legend?

According to an 11th century legend, St. George is the saint who killed the dragon, a symbol that iconography associates with the Devil himself.

Born in Cappadocia (modern Turkey), St. George is believed to have been an officer in the army of the Emperor Diocletian. He died a martyr’s death in the year AD303. The episode of the dragon slaying relates how St. George, protected by the Cross, killed a people-eating dragon, thus ensuring that Faith triumphed over evil.

Pope Francis and the question of evil

In his homilies, Pope Francis has often stressed that evil is not something abstract. It is a person with a name: Satan. At his Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel on April 11th 2014, the Pope said: “The life of Jesus was a struggle. He came to overcome evil, to defeat the Prince of this world, to defeat the Devil”. This is a struggle every Christian must face, continued the Pope on that occasion. And those who want to follow Jesus must “recognize this truth”.

Conquering Evil with Good

St. George defeated the dragon in a symbolic victory of Good over Evil. During his reflections at the General Audience of February 8, 2017, Pope Francis said: “We can never repay evil with evil. We must overcome evil with good, offenses with forgiveness. …This is how we live in peace, this is the Church. This is what Christian hope produces when it takes on the strong yet tender features of Love. … Because Love, said the Pope, is both “strong and tender. It is beautiful”. (Sergio Centofanti, vaticannews,va)

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