Icon Akimov 102.008 «St.George and the Dragon»
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"St. George, the glorious Great Martyr, and wonder-worker is one of the most beloved saints in Christendom. He has been venerated in Russia since the 11th century. Beginning from the 12th century St. George was painted as a Dragon slayer named the Victorious. The martyr’s name was Russian-style altered, and revered as Egory, Egor, Jury. Princes venerated him as warriors’ patron, peasants prayed to him for their livestock. He is commemorated thrice a year: on November 16, on December 9 and on May 6. The day of his passing away – May 6 – is called St. George's (Jury) day, and celebrated in particularly solemn way.
St. George the Victorious († 303) was a Roman military leader. During the persecution of Christians under Emperor Diocletian he declared himself to be a Christian, and was subjected to appalling torture on his own free will. But God's Angel stood beside and miraculously healed his wounds. George was imprisoned for long. The local started suborning the guards and coming to him with their needs. One day a poor pagan peasant came named Glycerion. He besought to revitalize his only ox. George took pity on the peasant, and raised the animal. Glycerion glorified Christ, and soon was martyred to death therefor. The miracle of the ox revitalizing underlay St. George veneration as a cattle-breeding patron.
One night the Lord himself come into the dungeon where the martyr stayed, put on a crown on his head, and proclaimed an end to be put to his earthly sufferings. The next day George was beheaded. But he kept on working wonders, and innumerably a time came to the rescue of those who needed his assistance. The most renowned posthumous wonder by him was to save the Libyan princess Elizabeth from dragon.
Near Beirut a dragon made its home in the lake to envenom all living creatures with its stinking breath. According to idols advice Beirut people decided to sacrifice their children to the monster. It fell to the princess lot to be the first victim. She got dressed sumptuously, and let be eaten up by the ruthless monster. The princess shed bitter tears in expectation of dreadful death. But all of a sudden a young spear on a white steed appeared before her, and asked, why she was standing here and waiting for perdition. Then the Divine warrior made the sign of the cross over the dragon “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, pressed its throat to the ground with his lance and trampled the monster under his steed foot. But keeping the serpent alive he told the princess that she should herself bind it, and take it off to the town for citizens to exterminate it.
Since antiquity Orthodox Church has interpreted the miracle in symbolical way. Everything in this story has intrinsic spiritual meaning. The lake and the serpent mean the Underworld and the devil, the princess symbolizing a human soul and the citizens being miserable sinners that kill it voluntarily. That is why the princess is inquired for by St. George: “Wherefore you are standing here and waiting for eternal torture like a lamb? Struggle and trust in God!” The Saint helps us to fight with our sin, to beat it but not to extirpate it. These are we who should ourselves overcome our sin, and get our soul liberated from it.
In the 14th century icons has appeared to depict not the whole legend but St. George the Victorious only to swoop down upon the serpent like a whirlwind, and to strike his lance into its jaws. From a sky segment in the icon corner the Divine right hand gave God’s blessing to him. Since the 14th century this picture has been included in Russian National Emblem as a symbol of inevitable victory of good over evil, of God over hell forces: shield with the image of George the Victorious guards the breast of double eagle. At the same time, coins were minted with the image of the Divine warrior. Such gold coins served as the first military decoration in medieval Russia. They were sewed on sleeves or caps and honored high. Later Cross of St. George became the most honorable award.
A laconic image of St. George the Victorious is shown on the guard small icon as well. You see a ring with the image of the rider inside of it who prance his steed. A wavy ornament runs along the ring to emphasize the liveliness of the whole picture. Below there is an inscription in Old Slavonic: “St. George and the Dragon”. A lion figure interwoven with floral ornament is on the small icon reverse. In Holy Writ lion symbolizes a person notable for peculiar strength, power and might (Dan. 7, 4), the Word of God being likened to lion's roaring (Job. 4, 10-11; Am. 3, 4-8). Floral ornamentation is ancient Christian symbol of paradise. On the whole, the reverse interprets the obverse in picturesque and symbolic way.
According to apostle Paul, every Christian is an invisible battle warrior that should “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Еphs. 6, 11). St. George, the glorious Great Martyr and wonder-worker is a helpmeet and brother-in-arms for everyone in this battle. “O George, protect all of us with the weapon of the Cross, with the hope of belief, with sovereign supreme love”."
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