On 23 April 2014, hundreds of faithful of Ilfov county attended the historical celebration of Cernica Monastery, Saint Great Martyr George. The saint patron’s service was celebrated by a group of priests and deacons, servant clergy of the monastery.
His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania was in the middle of the faithful and spoke about the virtues of Saint George.
Officer in the imperial guard
“Saint Great Martyr George lived from 270 – 303, till 23 April when he died a martyr’s death. He was born in Cappadocchia and when his father died his mother took him to Caesarea of Palestine where she had many estates. His mother raised him in faith, so that he was a wise and courageous young man. This is why he joined the army and has even become an officer in the imperial guard. Saint Great Martyr George opposed, in the presence of the empire, the measures taken against the Christians and confessed he was a Christian too. The emperor was surprised and amazed. Saint George was submitted to very hard tortures. A heavy stone was hung on his neck and his body was almost crushed so that he could hardly speak. He was tortured on a spiked wheel, thrown into a whole of quick lime, poisoned, but he survived by God’s help”, His Beatitude said.
The martyrs’ power to suffer torture and accept death comes from Christ
“Saint Great Martyr George, as an example of martyr, confessor of faith till death has become very popular, and made lots of wonders after his death. He saved a young girl killing a dragon that as going to eat her and which was living in a lake close to Beirut. This is why he is shown in the Orthodox icons riding a white horse and killing a dragon. The dragon has become the symbol of evil. Saint Great Martyr George shows us the power of the martyrs’ faith. The martyrs’ faith is not a simple intellectual conviction, and they are not supporting an idea, but show a special relationship of the faithful with the crucified and risen Christ, so that their power to suffer torture and accept death comes from Christ. This is why Christus in martyre est has been said ever since the first centuries, namely Christ is present in martyrs”, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel explained.
To end with, the Patriarch of Romania offered the Monastery several books published by the publishing houses of the Romanian Patriarchate, and the Easter Pastoral letter and small icons of Saint Great Martyr George to the faithful present.
Cernica Monastery was founded in 1608 by Minister for Internal Affairs Cernica Stirbei, of Michael the Brave and of Radu Serban. An older monastic settlement used to be on the respective place. He raised the church and dedicated it to Saint Nicholas. The monastery’s saint patron gave the name of the meadow where the building was raised. The monastery was first named Gradistea Florestilor, but it changed its name in the course of time, adopting that of its founder. The old church of Cernica was adapted to the ever growing needs of the monks, especially by abbot George who found it deserted in 1781, when he began his pastoral worship. The present church was built after the earthquake of 1802 by abbot Timotei and finished in 1815. It is a magnificent construction (only the foundation can still be seen of the old church of Cernica).