Vatican News

The Feast Day of St George and the Pope’s Name Day

April 23rd marks the feast day of St George and the name day of Jorge (George) Mario Bergoglio. But who is the Saint behind the legend?

The Saint and the Legend

According to an 11th century legend, St George is the saint who killed the dragon, a symbol that iconography associates with the Devil himself. Born in Cappadocia, St George is believed to have been an officer in the army of the Emperor Diocletian. He died a martyr’s death in the year AD303. The episode of the dragon slaying relates how St George, protected by the Cross, killed a people-eating dragon, thus ensuring that Faith triumphed over evil.

Pope Francis and the question of evil

In his homilies, Pope Francis has often stressed that evil is not something abstract. It is a person with a name: Satan. At his Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel on April 11th 2014, the Pope said: “The life of Jesus was a struggle. He came to overcome evil, to defeat the Prince of this world, to defeat the Devil”. This is a struggle every Christian must face, continued the Pope on that occasion. And those who want to follow Jesus must “recognize this truth”.

Conquering Evil with Good

St George defeated the dragon in a symbolic victory of Good over Evil. During his reflections at the General Audience of February 8th 2017, Pope Francis said: “We can never repay evil with evil. We must overcome evil with good, offenses with forgiveness”. “This is how we live in peace”, he continued, “this is the Church. This is what Christian hope produces when it takes on the strong yet tender features of Love.” Because Love, said the Pope, is both “strong and tender. It is beautiful”.

(Sergio Centofanti)

23 April 2018, 10:25