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Statue of St George

Georgia Celebrates Saint George’s Day

St George has always been especially honored and respected as a patron saint of Georgia and there are hundreds of churches dedicated to him. Georgian Orthodox Christians celebrate Saint George’s Day, Giorgoba, twice a year; on May 6 and on 23 November.

St. George was born in the latter part of the third century A.D. to a Greek Christian noble family in Lydda, Palestine. After his father’s death, George enlisted in the Roman army and by his late 20s was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and joined the imperial guard of the Emperor Diocletian at Nicomedia, the eastern capital city of the Roman Empire.

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

During the year 303 A.D., the emperor Diocletian summoned his officers and instructed them to persecute the Christians. Raised as a Christian, George refused to undertake this task. Diocletian offered him gifts of land, money and slaves if he would renounce his faith and make a sacrifice to the Roman gods.

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

When he refused, George was tortured and then beheaded on April 23 (April 23 corresponds to 6 May on the Gregorian calendar).

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

17th century Georgian manuscript depicting St. George's life and martyrdom

The Diocletianic Persecution (303–11) was the Roman Empire’s last and largest persecution of Christianity but failed to destroy the empire’s Christian community. During the fourth century the veneration of George spread from Palestine through Lebanon to the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire.