April 23, 2021, marked the patronal feast of the historical chapel at the patriarchal residence in Bucharest.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Archimandrite Paisie Teodorescu, patriarchal vicar, Patriarch Daniel presented the life and sufferings of Saint George, whom he called “an icon of strong faith, courage, manhood, and of the fight to keep the faith.”
Patriarch Daniel said that St. George, a senior officer in the guard of the emperor Diocletian, was at a meeting in which plans were made to persecute Christians. There he confessed before the emperor and those present that he was a Christian and could only serve in the army as a soldier of Christ.
Being very surprised by the courage and audacity of his officer, the emperor tried to distract him from his faith by promising positions, fortunes, honours. But St. George remained unyielding, firm in his faith in Jesus Christ, the Patriarch explained, describing what the great martyr went through:
“Then the emperor ordered that he be arrested and tortured. He was beaten with oxen vines, put on shoes that had nails and when he walked, the nails pierced his sole. He was thrown into a lime pit; a big stone was put on his chest.”
“He went through many sufferings and came out of all of them victorious through the grace and help of Christ. The soldiers who tortured him saw that there was a special power in him that helped him go through all the torments, and some of them became Christians. So did Empress Alexandra, Diocletian’s wife,” the Patriarch added.
Finally, on April 23, 303, the emperor ordered the beheading of George along with the empress and those who believed in Christ.
“Saint George the Great Martyr is a patron saint, a helper of those who fight, but also of the poor and the sick. He is also a man of suffering, who helps those who suffer.”
“He teaches us to love the Church of Christ and to profess the faith not only in good times, but also in times of trial, persecution, and suffering,” Patriarch Daniel said at the end of his sermon.
A very popular saint
“The Holy Great Martyr George became an icon of strong faith, courage, manhood, of the struggle to keep the faith in Jesus Christ. He is the protector of those who are spiritual fighters, but also of Christian soldiers. Therefore, he has become very popular both among military leaders and in the people’s devotion,” the Patriarch of Romania noted on Friday, April 23.
Patriarch Daniel listed in his sermon evidence of the widespread devotion that Christians throughout the world and especially in Romania have for St. George.
- 12 states (or regions) have St George as their protector: England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Moldavia, Montenegro, Palestine, Portugal, Russia and Serbia.
- 1 million Romanians bear his name or derivatives.
- Saint Stephen the Great wore the icon of St. George on the battle flag.
- The stamp or seal of the Metropolis of Moldavia and Bukovina bears the image of St. George.
- St. George is today the protector of the Romanian troops or army.
- Romanian cities that bear his name: Sfântul Gheorghe, Sângeorz and Giurgiu.
- The third arm of the Danube is called Saint George.
- He is the spiritual protector of many churches, including Voroneţ Monastery and the historic Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence.
The Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence
It was built together with the Patriarchal Cathedral, between 1656 and 1658, by Wallachia’s Ruler Prince Constantin Şerban Basarab. Over time, it received four patron saints.
It was originally dedicated to the Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen. Prince Gheorghe Duca completed the works, and that is why the primary patron saint is the Great Martyr George the Trophy-bearer. The painting of the chapel was made in 1723, during the reign of Nicolae Mavrocordat and Metropolitan Daniel of Wallachia, who assigned the third patron saint, the Prophet Daniel.
Later, the historical Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence was also dedicated to Saint Parascheva.