Finding St George in Jordan

St George church Madaba

Today is St George’s Day. St George is Greek, and I haven’t worked out how he came to be England’s patron saint, but the English flag bears his cross.

I’m going to skip across the lands today. This post-card is from Jordan, where I came across the Greek Orthodox church of St George in the town of Madaba.  I knew it was the same St George because there was a mural of him slaying a dragon to save the princess.

The special thing about this church is that it has a 20-foot wide 6th century mosaic map of The Holy Lands. It’s on the floor in the middle of the church. At its heart is an enlarged pictorial representation of Jerusalem, inscribed “The Holy City”. It’s impressive that something fragile like this can survive the carelessness of time.

Historians dated it by noting the existence of the Jerusalem structures in the map and they worked out that it was made somewhere between 542 and 570. I thought that was a very simple and clever way to get it down to a 30 year window. My wild guess would’ve been carbon dating or some such method.

Incidentally, Madaba is Mosaic Central, if you’re of the art history or interior décor bent.  There are mosaics everywhere, a tradition passed down from the Byzantines and the Muslim Umayyads.

~ Spotted Cow

Mosaic map Madaba Mural of St George