Executions · Religion · Turkey

The martyrdom of St. George

April 23, 303 AD
Nicomedia, Bithynia, Roman Empire (modern-day İzmit, Turkey)
St. George is martyred at the age of approximately 23

St. George the Dragon Slayer (thus named for the legend he had killed an actual dragon) had been a solider in the Roman army during the rule of Emperor Diocleian. The emperor despised Christians and issued an order for all Christians to be arrested. St. George opposed this decision, and brought his grievance to the emperor directly. Diocleian, not wanting to lose one of his best soldiers, tried to convince St. George to renounce his faith and make an offering to Mars, but the Saint refused. Not wanting to appear weak, the emperor ordered the torture of St. George in an attempt to make him comply.

St. George was placed on the wheel of swords, a giant wooden wheel with shards of iron embedded, which would strip the flesh off its victims. St. George was revived three times upon the wheel. According to Catholic tradition, he was killed on the wheel then resurrected by God Himself, though most historians believe he was rendered unconscious by the pain and blood loss and simply regained consciousness eventually.

Each time he revived, he was given the chance to convert, each time remaining faithful. After his third torture and revival he was executed by beheading. His conviction was so strong and pure, he inspired two witnesses, Empress Alexandra and pagan priest Athanasius, to convert to Christianity. They then followed St. George in execution.

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