April 22, 2016

April 23rd: Optional Memorial of Saint George & Saint Adalbert, Martyrs

St. George

Historians continue to debate the date of Saint George’s birth. He was born to Gerontios and Polychronia, a Roman officer and a Greek native of Lydda. Both parents were Christians from noble families. George served in the Emperor Diocletian's army. By his late 20's, he became a Tribunus and was an imperial guard for the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In 303 A.D., Diocletian, decreed that Christians would be arrested and that Roman soldiers should sacrifice to the Roman gods. George refused to abide by the order. In an effort to save George’s life, Diocletian attempted to convert him, offering him land, money and slaves in exchange for sacrificing to Rome’s pagan idols. George remained steadfast in his devotion to God, even under penalty of death.

On April 23, 303, George was decapitated before Nicomedia's outer wall. His body was sent to Lydda for burial where Christians venerated him as a martyr. St. George stands out among other saints and legends because he is known and revered by both Muslims and Christians. According to legend, St. George killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut, thus Saint George bay was named in his honor.

Saint Adalbert was ordained the Bishop of Prague in 983 A. D. During his episcopate he facilitated the evangelization of the Magyars. Having founded the monastery of Brevnov, he was forced into exile by the nobility of Prague. He tirelessly preached the Gospel in Poland, Hungary, Russia, and Prussia, where he was martyred at the age of 41.

In England this feast is a solemnity. When the celebration falls in the Easter Triduum, on a Sunday of Easter, or in the Easter Octave it is moved to the next available day — generally the Monday of the Second Week of Easter.

The Life of St. George 

St. George is venerated by the Eastern Church among her "great martyrs" and "standard-bearers." He belonged to the Roman army; he was arrested and, probably, beheaded under Diocletian, c. 304. He is the patron of England, since 800. St. George is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers."

Many legends are attached to Saint George. The most famous is the one in The Golden Legend. There was a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Not even armies could defeat this creature, and he terrorized flocks and the people. St. George was passing through and upon hearing about a princess was about to be eaten, he went to battle against the serpent, and killed it with one blow with his lance. Then with his great preaching, George converted the people. He gave his reward to the poor, then left the area.

Patron: Aragon; agricultural workers; archers; armourers; Beirut; Lebanon; Boy Scouts; butchers; Canada; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Crusaders; England; equestrians; farmers; Ferrara Italy; field hands; field workers; Genoa, Italy; Georgia; Germany; Gozo; Greece; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; Istanbul; knights; lepers; leprosy; Lithuania; Malta; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; plague; Portugal; riders; saddle makers; saddlers; skin diseases; skin rashes; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights; Venice.

Symbols: Armor; buckler; dragon.

Collect Prayer

Extolling your might, O Lord, we humbly implore you, that, as Saint George imitated the Passion of the Lord, so he may lend us ready help in our weakness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer to St. George

St. George, heroic Catholic soldier and defender of your Faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical Emperor and were subjected to horrible torture. You could have occupied a high military position but you preferred to die for your Lord. Obtain for us the great grace of heroic Christian courage that should mark soldiers of Christ. Amen.

St. Adalbert
The Life of St. Adalbert

St. Adalbert while still under thirty became bishop of Prague, but the pastoral and political difficulties were such that in 990 he withdrew in desperation to Rome. Pope John XV sent him back to his diocese, where he founded the great abbey of Brevnov; but again he met with opposition to his ministry from the nobility, and again he retired to Rome.

At length it became apparent that there was no hope of his working unmolested in Prague, and he was allowed to turn his attention to the heathen Prussians of Pomerania. But here he had no more success. He and his fellow missionaries nevertheless persevered in their mission, and were eventually murdered, perhaps near Konigsberg. Despite the disappointments of his career, St Adalbert of Prague seems to have had considerable influence. He was a friend of the Emperor Otto III, encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and inspired St Boniface of Querfurt; his cultus was widespread in central Europe. He in his turn was influenced by the ideals of the great monastery of Cluny.

Patron: Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Prussia.

Symbols: Holding a two-headed cross, two lances, and a club; holding a lance with a club at the lower end; pierced by three lances and beheaded.

Via Catholic Culture.org.

Collect Prayer

O God, who bestowed the crown of martyrdom on the Bishop Saint Adalbert, as he burned with zeal for souls, grant, we pray, by his prayers, that the obedience of the block may never fail the shepherds, nor the care of the shepherds be ever lacking to the flock. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sources: Catholic Culture.org, Catholic.org and the Catholic Encyclopedia.

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