I have a strong interest in St. George, a possibly mythical figure who is important to my father's people. Colonel Patrick Lang, a military historian, referred recently to the significance of St. George to Palestinian Christians. I shared with him my research notes on the topic, and he was kind enough to reprint them here: The Athenaeum: St. George. The following is what I sent him:
Last spring I researched St. George in the Mills College library. I found two sources regarding the saint from Lyd. The second, 19th century source, seems particularly germane to the St. George discussion in a thread at Sic Semper Tyrannis; the information I gathered will impact the novel I'm working on, set in South Lebanon. Herewith my notes:
From Dictionary of Mythology Folklore and Symbols, Gertrude Jobes, Vol. 2 p. 1370 publ. 1962
"George. Martyred 303. One of the seven champions of Christendom. In Georgia, Russia, revered as a deity of good fortune. His worship is related to moon worship, and he occupies a position similar to that of Christ as mediator and intercessor. Adopted by Edward III, he became patron saint of England. In legend, he killed a dragon to save Cleodolinda, daughter of the King of Lydia, or Sabra, daughter of Ptolemy, in much the same manner that Perseus killed dragons to save maidens.
The legend is an allegory expressing the triumph of Christianity over evil. He is called the everlasting green one, inasmuch as his conflict with evil is eternal. Again and again he was slain, but he kept returning to life until he was mutilated, cut into small parts and burned, his ashes scattered in the wind, attributes of a fertility lord...By Arabs called Djirdjis.
S. Baring-Gould: Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, Boston, Roberts Brothers 1882.
"He was a native of Lydda, but brought up in Cappadocia, he entered the Roman army and suffered a cruel death for Christ." "The Turks pay great veneration to St. George."
Dean Stanley moreover noticed a Mussulman chapel (sic) on the sea-shore near Sarafend, the ancient Sarepta, dedicated to El Khouder, in which "there is no tomb inside, only hangings before a recess. This variation from the usual type of Mussulman sepulchres was, as we were told by peasants on the spot, because El Khouder is not yet dead, but flies round and round the world, and these chapels were built wherever he has appeared." (p. 231).
Ibn Wahshiya al Kasdani, 900s, Chaldaean, Muslim, "hated the Arabs", translated Nabathaean writings rescued from "Moslem fanaticism." "Book of Nabathean Agriculture by Kuthami the Babylonian". Ibn Wahshiya links Tammuz to festival of St. George end of Nisan (April)– says "what is related of the blessed George is the same as that told of Tammuz" i.e. Restored to life.... "Phoenician Adonis was identical with Tammuz.
St. Jerome in the Vulgate rendered the passage in Ezekiel (viii. 14) "He brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house, which was towards the north; an behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz," by ecce mulieres sedentes plangetnes Adonidem; and in his commentary on the passage says, "Whom we have interpreted Adonis, both the Hebrew and Syriac languages call Thamuz, and they call the month june by that name." He informs us also of a very immportant fact, that the solstice was the time of wailing for Tammuz.
George/Tammuz identified with sun/fire (torture by fire, dumped in vat of molten lead etc.)
Baring Gould says fight between St George and dragon took place at Berytus (Beirut). Compares to story of Perseus. Scene of conflict near Joppa, where in the days of St. Jerome the bones of the huge reptile were exhibited (p. 255)
"According to another version, the dragon guards the spring of water, and the country is languishing for want of water; St. George restores to the land the use of the spring by slaying the dragon." (264)
(end notes. All of the above is quote or paraphrase from referenced sources, not my original material).
Any Lebanese readers want to elaborate on the shrine at Sarafand? I remember a tomb or small jam'a on the Sidon-Tyre road. Was this at Sarafand? Is it the referenced shrine to "El Khoudour?"