10 May 2017

Celebration of the Feast of St. George 'Prince of the Martyrs'

In the village of Al-Khader, a few miles from Bethlehem, the celebration for the feast of St. George took place. Hundreds of believers have filled the church for two consecutive days.


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To the west of the city of Bethlehem, in the village of Al-Khader, whose name originates from the monastery of St. George, the greatest martyr in the Orthodox Church, popularly known as "Al-Khader, the Green one", hundreds of believers from different churches celebrated the feast of St. George, the healer of the sick and the poor. "May the great among the victorious martyrs intercede with Christ for the salvation of men."

Beit Jala
"I, personally (like many other people), consider this feast a national holiday rather than a religious one. In fact, it is celebrated by many people of all denominations, and by both the Christian and the Muslim confessions. Everyone considers him a saint who defends them, sustains them, protects them and heals them."

In a dramatic and very moving scene that expresses the meaning of love and tolerance in their highest and most beautiful expression, a Palestinian Muslim woman, wearing her traditional dress, lights up a candle used by believers for their vows and says: "I trust in God and in you, Saint George."

Greek Orthodox Bishop
"There are really special cases in this area, because we have lived with Muslims for centuries. We know and respect each other and do some things together, for example in the field of social affairs, gatherings and in other activities ... So, this is a local illustration of how to live in mutual understanding and appreciation."
"It is a message of love, understanding and coexistence, because this has already been a habit for centuries, a tradition. So we carry on this custom.”

In addition to praying during the feast, the faithful follow very special practices: they make their vows, walk barefoot from Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour; light the candles, distribute the blessed bread at the end of Mass, decorated with the image of St. George, and wear the Iron Necklace.

Greek Orthodox Church - Beit Jala
"We are extremely proud of this great holy martyr ... and thanks to him we understand the meaning of martyrdom for faith and for the country, because St. George also defended his homeland. So we consider this place sacred. In ancient times, they brought people here who had mental and psychological illnesses: they were tied with the necklace, they were healed and returned to their homes; Since then, the necklace is kept in the church and according to tradition, it is used for healing from illnesses.”