280 AD (Lod, Israel) – 23 April 303 AD (Nicomedia, Turkey)
You have probably heard about the legend of Saint George and the dragon. But did you know the true, and even more amazing story of how he stood up to a powerful emperor? Saint George was an officer in the Roman army and a member of emperor Diocletian’s elite royal guard around 300 years after Jesus was born. Some say he was one of the emperor’s best soldiers.
The emperor didn’t like Christians though and arrested all of them, who were in his army. They were to be let go only if they betrayed Jesus and worshiped the false Roman gods instead. Diocletian did this because he wanted to get rid of all the Christians from his empire.
Saint George was a man of deep faith and great courage, so when he heard this, he didn’t hide or escape. He went to see the Emperor straightaway! In front of many fellow officers of the army he told Diocletian that he would not give up his faith in Jesus! Can you imagine that? I’d say that standing up to a powerful emperor like that, with all his armies, is more courageous than fighting just a single dragon, no matter how fierce! Since the emperor respected Saint George and wanted to keep him as his soldier, he first tried to change his mind by offering him land, gold and lots of other riches.
What do you think Saint George did? Do you think he took the emperor’s gold? That’s right, Saint George was firm and refused! But, this made the emperor mad! How dare a soldier disobey him! So, Diocletian decided to have Saint George killed, also to scare anyone else who thought of remaining a Christian.
Before he got arrested though, Saint George gave away all his possessions to the poor. If you ever stood up for your friends in school or for your little brother or sister when someone was unkind to them, you were following Saint George’s example! He not only valued his friendship with Jesus above his own life, but stood up for his friends who were in terrible danger. And not even the emperor’s bribes could change his mind.
“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will ac- knowledge before my heavenly Father.”