George of Lydda Soldier, Saint and Martyr

George of Lydda Soldier, Saint and Martyr

IN THE PRESENT DAY, ALTHOUGH ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES AND IRELAND STILL MAINTAIN devotion each to its own Patron Saint, St. George has come to represent in a general way Britain—the British Isles.

As a result of research by hagiographers and his­torians, no competent authority now doubts the fact of the historic George of Lydda. The accounts of miracle-working incidents and fabulous tales tena­ciously held by the popular mind in medieval times are, in our day, so manifestly unreal that modern sceptics, having missed established facts, scarcely escape the temptation to relegate all that pertains to St. George, both truth and fiction, to the realm of the mythical.

While rejecting the legendary accretions which have accumulated in great profusion around the simple story of his life, an effort has been made in the following pages to bring together the historical notices of St. George to be found in British annals and else­where.

It should be made clear to the reader that there was another George with whom our Patron Saint is often confused. C. J. Marcus says: “Gibbon iden­tifies St. George with the disreputable George of Cappadocia—a case of mistaken identity which has persisted ever since.” Mommsen also: “The historian Edward Gibbon did the character of the saint much harm. Gibbon confounded two wholly distinct men, George who was born in Epiphania in Cilicia, and George of Lydda”; and Hepworth Dixon on the same theme: “We have had two St. Georges in history and to our shame we have made them one, and we have been indolently content to let our greatest historical writer, Gibbon, describe him as one of the vilest scamps and darkest villains who ever stained this earth with crime.”