The Saint George Hotel


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The image of St George as a Roman soldier mounted on a fine Arabian horse and spearing a dragon is a familiar one throughout, where there are two facilities dedicated to him. Throughout the Christian East, Saint George is undoubtedly the most popular warrior-saint, and in the of there are now more than twenty relics of the equestrian saint. The Coptic biography of Saint George does not mention his flight with and victory over the dragon. Hence, scholars believe that around the fourteenth century this theme was a transferal from the biography of St. Theodore Stratelates to Saint George, though it is also possible that the adopted this tale from the Western Christians. The origin of he monastery of St. George (Deir al-Banat), located in Old Cairo, is obscure, but it is believed that the foundation of the structure dates from the seventh or eighth century. Today, the monastery is actually home to between thirty and forty religious women.

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Only the chapel which is dedicated to St. George and the large room with an anteroom offer any historical and artistic interest. The chapel is said to have originally been a palace dating from the, which was transformed into a church probably in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Here, St. George's icon is venerated.

The large room with an anteroom is separated from the chapel by a double door of surprising height measuring some seven meters. Animal figures adorn the door. The nuns in charge of the chapel offer for the veneration of the faithful an iron collar and chain. This wonder-working chain, some 9. 7 meters long, is attached to the south wall of the inner room of the shrine.

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Normally the chain is applied to women, though men sometimes seek the blessings of the saint through the chain. Whomever places the halter of the chain around his neck and winds the chain around his body, kissing the chain piously and offering prayers to Saint George, is considered to be in a state of exceptional grace. They say they have the arm of the saint, and they showed me a pillar, to which an iron collar with a chain is fixed, and they say mad people confined in it for three days certainly recover. They informed me that the Turks often try this experiment and having a great admiration for the saint, frequently come and say their prayers here on Friday. Today, large numbers of and even Muslims visit the Shrine of the Chains of Saint George in the Convent on Fridays and Sundays.

The Coptic chains have assumed the function of the medieval chain-cult. At the convent, Greeks from Greece, Lebanon, Cyprus and Egypt used to assemble for the panegyris of Saint George on the night of April 77 to behold the apparition of the celestial rider on his white horse above the dome of the old church. Apparently the nuns of the old convent have continued the age-old cult. Nearby the monastery is the Church of St. George.

The Greek Church of St. George is one of the few round churches still in existence in the East, formed from it's placement atop a rounded Roman tower. The is said to have taken shelter in a place now covered by the Church. There is a long set of steps that lead up to the church that are built on the outer wall of the Roman towers. As one ascend these steps, there can be found a relief of St.

George and the dragon wrapped around the outer brickwork of the tower. The church had been burned many times.

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