St George (c. 275/281 – 23 April 303 AD) was a Greek who became an officer in the Roman army. His father was the Greek Gerondios from Cappadocia Asia Minor and his mother was from the city Lydda. Lydda was a Greek city in Palestine from the times of the conquest of Alexander the Great (333 BC). St George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of Diocletian. He is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography, Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), and the Anglican Churches. He is immortalized in the tale of St George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
A brief biography of St. George includes the birth at Cyrene in Present day Libya and His life as a Roman soldier, whose subsequent valor and courage to protect the King’s daughters the human sacrifice offered for the Dragon and the culmination in slaying the Dragon. It was believed that a Church for St. Mary was erected at the place where He slays the dragon and a spring erupted. His fame and the steadfast belief in Jesus Christ brought persecution by the Romans who beheaded him for his faith. This was on April 23, 303 A.D. a day observed by many churches as St. George Day. His unflinching courage and uncompromising faith brought many more martyrs to Christianity.
Many Countries and Cities count on His blessing by naming Him the Patron Saint. It is Customary for every Eastern Orthodox Christian to observe the feast of St. George, the venerated Saint and even more so for the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala, whose vivid memories of the feast, the festivities and the accompanying folklore of the slaying of the dragon never fade from childhood memories. A place abound with deadly snakes, it is of paramount importance to participate in the festivities and offer “Nercha appam and Kozhi Curry” for the protection by the saint. The stories that bear testament to the many miracles performed by St. George fortify the faith and people from all walks of life seek protection from the deadly venom of the serpents. These yearly parade of faithful include people from different religions whose testimony accentuates ones faith in the Saint. The Churches at Puthupally, and Chandanappalli are of particular significance due to the very famous “Perunal” festivities that involves the whole town folks. The feast of St. George in the orthodox churches in the west is a whole- hearted attempt to emulate the festivities of the past in its style and grandeur and to seek the blessing of this saint-a nostalgic and uplifting experience.
Article Originally posted by : Fr. Thomas Philipose