OF LYDDA - SOLDIER SAINT & MARTYR
Isobell Hill Elder (Merch O Lundan Derri)
work is told again the story of St. George whose courageous
defence of the principles of liberty and freedom earned for
him the unique title Champion Knight of Christendom.
truth concerning our Patron Saint is here presented in a concise
form, disengaged from the network of fable which gradually overlaid
the story of a soldier-saint in its progress through the centuries.
is seen, not as a mere legendary figure, but as a living man
in conflict with the forces of evil, and as the victorious defender
of early Christianity.
Constantine and St. George served under Galerius in the Egyptian
and Persian campaigns and between the two young Christian soldiers
a lasting friendship was formed.
was unquestionably a British princess", states Melancthon
and Sozomen writes: "it is well known that the great Constantine
received his Christian education in Britain". "Constantine",
writes Polydore Vergil, "born in Britain, of a British
mother, proclaimed Emperor in Britain beyond doubt, made his
natal soil a participator in his glory ."
"primacy in regard to Christianity" could not possibly
have been more clearly demonstrated on the page of history than
by this son of the British Helena, founding his Empire and being
crowned in Britain and going thence, in July, 306, supported
by native British troops to conquer and Christianise the Roman
Empire, and "plant the cross of Christ on the throne of
to the Greek Church it was at this Council of Arles that Constantine
proposed that his former companion-in-arms, the martyred George
of Lydda, should be chosen as the model and example of the young
manhood of Christendom, and was henceforth termed the "Champion
Knight of Christendom".
the Council of ArIes, the Bishops became a regular Court party
with free access to Constantine's presence. There was usually
a group of Churchmen at Court whom he consulted; and further,
the Edict of Milan changed the Christian Church from an organisation
barely tolerated by the State to a legally authorised corporation
recognised as holding corporate property, and the clergy were
by Constantine exempt from paying tax.
of the Cross was in use in pre-Constantine days though for fear
of the reproaches of Jews and heathen not yet in its proper
form but only in a form that indicated what was meant, namely,
in the form of a Greek T . In the West the symbol came to be
known as "The Cross of St. George". England is the
only country that has adopted the Red Cross of St. George as
its National ensign. The reason for this may perhaps be found
in Hardynges fifteenth century "Chronicle" where a
still earlier origin is claimed for our Red Cross device connecting
it with Joseph of Arimathea.
rebuilt churches that had been destroyed during the Diocletian
persecution and gave liberally to charities. "By the Edict
of Toleration (Milan) the Christian churches were to become
legally collegia; guilds; corporate bodies with rights and liabilities
defined by law. The Christians, however, were remarkably slow
to respond with enthusiasm. The Church refused to be a collection
of colleges; it planted its standard for freedom of organisation
and universality of membership."
the site of the place of execution where St George was beheaded,
Constantine and his mother Queen Helena, erected a Church which
at present time is used for Mohammedan worship and known as
Mosque of St George. Upon the site of the shrine erected over
the remains of St George at Lydda Constantine built his magnificent
Byzantine Church. Constantine is known to have dedicated twenty-one
churches to the honour of St. George.
Church of Jerusalem dedicated to St. George is said to have
been erected by the Empress Helena near to the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre at the time of her sojourn at Jerusalem in A.D.
326. In the opinion of the archaeologist, Dr. Conrad Shick this
tradition is based on the truth.
rebuilt by Constantine in A.D. 330 on the site of the ancient
Byzantium, was the first purely Christian city ever built; no
pagan temple was open for public worship within its bounds.
This "City of Constantine" was made by its builder
the capital of the Roman Empire.
was baptised in the Lateran Palace by Sylvester, Bishop of Rome.
He gave him the palace which had witnessed the baptism. He gave
him the dominion over the city of Rome, over Italy, over the
Constantine to how much ill gave birth .
Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower.
wrote in the bitterness of his heart of what he believed to
be the origin of the Pope's temporal sovereignty. This would
appear to be the historical reason that the Palace and Church
of the Lateran rather than St. Peter's and the Vatican, form
the nucleus of Christian and Papal Rome. Here and not in St.
Peter's have all the Roman Councils been held. This and not
St. Peter's is the Cathedral Church of Rome. Here and not the
Vatican was the early residence, and still takes place the enthronisation
and coronation of the Popes. On the throne of the Lateran and
not on the chair of St. Peter's is written the inscription:
is that gift if you the truth will have
Which Constantine to good Sylvester gave."
thank offering for victory over the Moslems Richard Coeur de
Lion rebuilt Constantine's Church at Lydda over the tomb of
St. George which had been destroyed by the Persians and rebuilt
by Justinian; destroyed by the Saracens and rebuilt by Richard,
who replaced the ancient structure by an edifice 250 feet long
and 200 feet wide. This Church was kept in repair with oak from
the royal forests down to the time of Edward IV.
by the Golden Age Project as a tribute to the scholarship of
Isobel Hill Elder.