Antique Saint George Icon and Its Description

Antique Saint George Icon and Its Description

“A legendary warrior conquering evil” – these words perfectly describe Saint George the Victorious, one of the most beloved saints among Christians. Renowned for his bravery, faith, and strength, he is usually depicted in the religious icons riding a white horse and slaying the devil (or dragon). However, most early images of Saint George portray him alone as a warrior staring directly at the viewer rather than attacking a fearsome dragon. Let’s take a closer look at the figure of this saint and the depiction of the antique Saint George icon.

Life and deeds of Saint George the Victorious

Saint George was born to a wealthy Christian family in the city of Beirut. As a young boy, he enlisted in the army and very soon received the title of the senior centurion of the Roman legion for his bravery and success. When the Great persecution from the pagan emperor Diocletian was taking place, George declared himself a Christian. He gave all possible support to those in need and accused the emperor of inhumanity. He eventually paid for his beliefs and faith with his life: the cruel emperor cut off George’s head with the sword in the year 303.

There are plenty of variants of legends about Saint George’s life and deeds. However, the most famous story related to him is the well-known “Miracle of Saint George and the Dragon.”

The description of Saint George icon

While many icons of Saint George depict a story with a dragon, the earliest icons of the saint show him alone as a warrior. The focus of such icons is placed on the figure of the saint. One of the ancient icons is the Novgorod Saint George icon with a half-length image of the legendary warrior. This artifact of easel painting, dating to the end of the 11th – early 12th century, belongs to the oldest icons of Russia.

In his right hand, George holds a spear; in his left hand, he holds a sword, the cross-shaped handle of which replaces a martyr’s cross. The face of the saint has a correct oval shape; his hair is depicted brown and thick. George’s eyes are large and staring at the viewer. The figure of the saint seems to fill all the space of the icon, so you can feel the majesty and power of the holy image.

Byzantine variations of the Saint George icon are also worth mentioning. They are notable for their impressive combination of bright colors of red, blue, and gold; and they feature the name of the saint written in Greek right on the top of his halo.

A much-venerated saint throughout Christianity, Saint George reflects the eternal victory of good over evil and encourages faith in many believers.