In times long past lived a Roman soldier who was secretly a Christian. When his emperor sought to destroy the faith, he stood up for what he believed and paid the price bravely around 303 BC. And from that point forward story and legend intertwine to create the mythical figure of St. George. A soldier of the faith, a martyr, who even walking to his doom knew God was with him, for one of the spears carried by the guards melted away while trying to cut him. Later the name St. George the Victor would be conjured through his miracles and stoicism. Among his miracles was the protection of the city of Virit. The people of the city were plagued by a dragon, a Zmej in Bulgarian mythology, which ate the children of the poor parents as sacrifice so the populace would stay safe. One day the king’s own daughter stood before the beast, but in the nick of time through crying eyes she witnessed the coming of St. George, riding a great white stallion and dispatching the evil from the land, saving her and her city. Witnessing this miracle, the populace turned to Christianity in gratitude to St. George and to his God. Till today this and many other stories are depicted by paintings in churches carrying the name of this most important Orthodox saint, parents name their children in his memory, and celebrations and rituals are held venerating his holy deeds on an official date, the 6th of May. In Bulgaria he is also the patron of the armed forces and of the shepherds. So the day is viewed also as the Day of the Shepherd, when a lamb is sacrificed so the year may be fertile and healthy.
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