Palestinian Christians celebrate St. George Day in Taybeh

Palestinian Christians celebrate St. George Day in Taybeh
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Palestinian Christians in the Israeli occupied West Bank Village of Taybeh celebrate St. George Day in the community with the local Greek Catholic Church (Melkite Practice). Taybeh has one of the strongest Christian communities in Palestine with three churches, Ancient Byzantine Church and several enchanting chapels

By Dr. Maria C. Khoury

Maria Khoury

Maria Khoury

Today, May 6th was a wonderful celebration with Archimandrite Jack-Nobel, our Taybeh parish priest of St. George Great Martyr Church of the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate celebrating the feast of St. George in our village with His Excellency Archbishop Yousef Jules Zerey, Archbishop of Damiat & the General Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem.

Many members of the Greek Catholic community traveled from various locations in the Holy Land to attend today’s beautiful liturgy with over ten priests including our own local priests, Fr. Daoud and Fr. Johnny with the entire Taybeh community. It has been an annual tradition to have the amazing and glorious voice of Jack Rabah of Ramallah for Byzantine chanting.

 

Archimandrite Jack-Nobel, the Taybeh parish priest of St. George Great Martyr Church of the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate celebrates the Great feast of St. George today with His Excellency Archbishop Yousef Jules Zerey, Archbishop of Damiat & the General Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy Dr. Maria Khoury

Archimandrite Jack-Nobel, the Taybeh parish priest of St. George Great Martyr Church of the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate celebrates the Great feast of St. George today with His Excellency Archbishop Yousef Jules Zerey, Archbishop of Damiat & the General Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy Dr. Maria Khoury

St. George is our patron saint of Taybeh and also the patron saint of Palestine.

In Taybeh, we have the ancient two churches also named after St. George, both dating back to the 4th/5th century. This is a special chant in honor of St. George:

“Since thou art a liberator and deliverer of captives, a help and succour of the poor and needy,
a healing physician of the sick, a contender and fighter for kings, O great among Martyrs, the victory-clad George; intercede with Christ God for the salvation of our souls.”

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Celebrating St. George Day with the entire Greek Catholic community traveling from many locations in the Holy Land to attend today's beautiful liturgy with over ten priests. Photo courtesy Dr. Maria Khoury

Celebrating St. George Day with the entire Greek Catholic community traveling from many locations in the Holy Land
to attend today’s beautiful liturgy with over ten priests. Photo courtesy Dr. Maria Khoury

When I visited Cappadocia last year, I could not help but notice in every chapel after another, the image of St. George carved in so many ancient cave churches. He is such a beloved saint not just in Cappadocia where his father was from but in the entire Middle East. His mother was from Palestine.

St. George was known to be a commander in the Roman Army but he refused to help Emperor Diocletian persecute the Christians. The courage of St. George to stand up against the Emperor actually reminds me of the very few but brave Israeli soldiers who love their country but refuse to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Actually, every Christian now in the Middle East has to have this brave stance for Christ as did St. George around the year 296 when he was beheaded because he announced his genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

The glorious voice of Jack Rabah chanting Holy Pascha Hymns in honor of St. George Great Martyr celebrated in Taybeh, May 6, 2016. It is a tradition to hear Jack chant the special words of St. George in Taybeh every year. He has an amazing voice! Troparion to Saint George. "SINCE thou art a liberator and deliverer of captives, a help and succour of the poor and needy, a healing physician of the sick, a contender and fighter for kings, O great among Martyrs, the victory-clad George; intercede with Christ God for the salvation of our souls." Photo courtesy of Dr. Maria Khoury

The glorious voice of Jack Rabah chanting Holy Pascha Hymns in honor of St. George Great Martyr celebrated in Taybeh, May 6, 2016. It is a tradition to hear Jack chant the special words of St. George in Taybeh every year. He has an amazing voice! Troparion to Saint George. “SINCE thou art a liberator and deliverer of captives, a help and succour of the poor and needy,
a healing physician of the sick, a contender and fighter for kings, O great among Martyrs, the victory-clad George; intercede with Christ God for the salvation of our souls.” Photo courtesy of Dr. Maria Khoury

It is known in Church tradition that the sacred remains of St. George were taken from Nicomedia (Asia Minor) where he was martyred to Palestine where his mother lived in the ancient town called Lydda (currently the Tel Aviv Airport is next to St. George Church in Israel) We celebrate the translation of the holy relics to the church in Lydda every year on November 16 (which is actually only November 3rd on the Old Julian calendar when the official Greek Orthodox Patriarchate celebration occurs) The November event is a bigger celebration with parades and scouts and people from all over the Holy Land traveling to ancient Lydda (now Lod) to honor the Great Martyr George.

Services held in Taybeh to honor St. George Day at St. George Church. Photos courtesy of Dr. Maria Khoury

Services held in Taybeh to honor St. George Day at St. George Church. Photo courtesy of Dr. Maria Khoury

A small side note about St. George is worth mentioning that the reason he might be the most beloved saint in the whole Middle East is not only for his courage and being brave to express his faith but churches who had the image of St. Church throughout the centuries were not destroyed during invasions. We think of St. George like insurance for buildings based on this oral tradition. It is very common to see the image of St. George carved in stone in many of the houses today in Bethlehem. So, our small town, with less than 2,000 people and three magnificent churches named after the Great Martyr George expresses in itself our love for this illustrious brave Church hero.

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Maria Khoury

Maria Khoury

Palestine Christian Writer, Blogger at St. George Greek Orthodox Church
Maria C. Khoury

Palestine Christian Writer, Blogger at St. George Greek Orthodox Church
Maria (Kouremenou) Khoury is the author of Orthodox Christian children's books including Christina Goes to the Holy Land, walking the footsteps of Christ. She is a graduate of Hellenic College (1982), Harvard University (1985) and Boston University (1992) with a doctor of education degree. Born in Tripoli, Greece, she was raised in Denver, Colorado. On Dec 31, 2009 she was included on the top 4 Human Rights Champions list by DC Human Rights Examiner including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Hilary Clinton.

Maria is the author of Witness in the Holy Land (distributed by www.HolyCrossBookstore.com), a publication reflecting personal experiences living under military occupation with her husband the former Mayor of Taybeh, David Canaan Khoury and three children Elena, Canaan, and Constantine. Her articles have been published world-wide in numerous newspapers and magazines and have been translated to various languages bringing awareness of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Maria Khoury has been the Taybeh Oktoberfest organizer since 2005.She divides her time between her homes in Boston and Taybeh, travels throughout the world promoting the Christina Books and making presentations about the dwindling Christian community in Palestine.She encourages people to stay at the new Taybeh Golden Hotel and experience rural life in Palestine.
Maria Khoury
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