Of the castle of St. George
Five miles from Ptolomais, towards the east, is the castle of sSt. George seated, in which he was born, the valley adjoining bearing the same name. And though for the credit of tSt. George's killing the dragon, I leave every man to his own belief; yet I cannot but think that, if the kings of England had not some probable record of that his memorable act among many others, it was strange that the order, full of honour, which Edward III. founded, and which his successors royally have continued, should have borne his name, seeing the world had not that scarcity of saints in those days, as that the English were driven to make such an erection upon a fable or person feigned. The place is described by Adrichomius1 in his description of Asher, to have been in the fields of Libanus, between the river Adonis and Zidon. His own words are these: Hoc logo qui ab incolis Cappadocia appellatur, non longe a Beryto, memorant inclytum Christi militem D. Georgium, regis filiam ab immanissimo dracone asservasse: eamque mactata bestia parenti restituisse. In cujus rei memoriam ecclesia postmodum fuit ædificata; "In this place, which by the inhabitants is called Cappadocia, not far from Berytus, men say that the famous knight of Christ, St. George, did rescue the king's daughter from a huge dragon, and, having killed the beast, delivered the virgin to her parent. In memory of which deed a church was after built there." Thus far Adrichomius. His authors he citeth Ludovicus Roman. Patric. Navigationum, l. 1 c. 3. and Bridenbach, Itin. 5. The valley under this castle, sometime called Asher, was afterward called the valley of St. George. If this authority suffice not, we may rather make the story allegorical, figuring the victory of Christ, than accept of George the Arian bishop, mentioned by Am. Marcellinus. [Chapter VII, § 5]
Was George from Lydda?
St. Jerome, in his commentaries upon Abdia, read Saron for Assaron, understanding thereby a plain near Lidda; which Lidda, in his time, was called Diospolis, or the city of Jupiter, one of the toparchies of Judæa, the fifth in dignity (or the third after Pliny), where St. Peter (non sua sed Christi virtute) cured Æneas. nNiger calls all that region, from Antilibanus to Joppe, Sarona. This Joppe was burnt to the ground by the Romans, those ravens and spoilers of all estates, disturbers of commonweals, usurpers of other princes' kingdoms; who, with no other respect led, than to amplify their own glory, troubled the whole world; and themselves, after murdering one another, became a prey to the most savage and barbarous nations.
In Diospolis (saith Will. of Tyre) was St. George beheaded and buried; in whose honour and memory Justinian the emperor caused a fair church to be built over his tomb; these be Tyrius's words: Relicta a dextris locis maritimis Antipatride, et Joppe, per late patentem planitiem Eleutheriam pertranseunts, Liddam quæ est Diospolis, ubi et egregii martyris Georgii usque hodie sepulchrum ostenditur, pervenerunt, ejus ecclesiam quam ad honorem ejusdem martyris pius et orthodoxus princeps Romanorum, Augustus Justinianus multo studio et devotione prompta ædificari præceperat, &c. "They having left," saith he, "on the right hand, the sea-towns Antipatris and Joppe, passing over the great open plain of Eleutheria, came to Lidda, which is Diospolis, where the sumptuous tomb of the famous martyr St. George is at this day shewed: whose church, when the godly and orthodox prince of the Romans, high and mighty Justinian, had commanded to be built, with great earnestness and present devotion," &c. Thus far Tyrius, by whose testimony we may conjecture that this St. George was not that Arian bishop of Alexandria, but rather some better Christian; for this of Alexandria was slain there in an uproar of the people, and his ashes cast into the sea, as pAmmianus Marcellinus reports. And yet also it may be, that this Georgius was a better Christian than he is commonly thought; for his words of the temple of Genius, "How long shall this sepulchre stand?" occasioned the uproar of the people against him, as fearing lest he would give attempt to overthrow that beautiful temple. This also Marcellinus reports, who though he says that this Georgius was also deadly hated of the Christians, who else might have rescued him; yet he addeth, that his ashes, with the ashes of two others, were therefore cast into the sea, lest if their relicks had been gathered up, churches should be built for them, as for others. But for my part, I rather think that it was not this Georgius, whose name lives in the right honourable order of our knights of the garter, but rather another, whom Tyrius, above cited, witnesseth to have been buried at Lidda, or Diospolis. The same also is confirmed by qVitriac. St. Jerome affirms, that it was sometimes called Tigrida; and while the Christians inhabited the Holy Land, it had a bishop suffragan.
t Itin. 4. Of the place and memory of his death, see chp. 9 sect. 1 (which follows).
1 Christiaan van Adrichem.
n Acts ix. Luke xxiii. Niger Comm. 4. Asiæ fol. 503. 14.
p Lib. 22. c. 11.
q Salig. tom. 6. c. 4.