In the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, St. Peter cured Aeneas, a Christian of the town of Lydda in Israel of paralysis. Peter said “Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you. Get up and make your bed.” Upon seeing this miracle, all the inhabitants of Lydda were converted to Christianity. So an early Christian community resided at Lydda. The people of Joppa went to Lydda to get Peter to come to Joppa and see Tabitha. St. Peter then raised Tabitha from the dead. Lydda is 12 miles southeast of Joppa and 25 miles from Jerusalem. The bishop of Lydda attended the council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Nicea in Turkey was the summer residence of the Roman emperor Constantine.
Lydda is probably most famous as the town where St. George was martyred c. 303 under the persecutions of the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Father J. Delaney says St. George may have been a soldier or tribune in the imperial Roman army. Later legend says St. George was a Christian knight who came to Libya in northern Africa to slay a dragon that was terrorizing the people. St. George became popular in England as a patron of knighthood and soldiers. “St. George’s arms” was a red cross on a white background that became the basis of the uniforms of British soldiers and sailors. G. Freeman mentions another opinion that the famous St. George may be George of Cappadocia in Turkey.
A church in honor of St. George is recorded at Lydda in the fifth century Baedeker says the bones of St. George at Lydda have been shown to visitors since the fifth century. K. Prag says the crusaders built a new church on its ancient walls between 1150-1170. In both churches, the cave-tomb of St. George the martyr was located beneath the main altar. In the 15th century a Moslem mosque was constructed on the southwest side of the main church and is still there today. There is a minaret or tower in the mosque courtyard. By the shops, there is the Greek Orthodox church of St. George, rebuilt in 1870, with a relief of the saint as the slayer of the dragon above the entrance.
North of Lydda is a bridge spanning the river built in 1273. It is a stone bridge with pointed arches between two heraldic lions.
Four kilometers south of Lydda is the city of Ramla built in 712 by Sulaiman. K. Prag says the inhabitants of Lydda, mainly Christian, were forcibly resettled in the new city of Ramla. Sulaiman and his successor Umar built the White Mosque at Ramla. In 1266 it was rebuilt in the form you see today. In the Middle Ages, Ramla became an important point on the Christian pilgrim route from Joppa to Jerusalem. Between 1395-1402 the Franciscans established a pilgrim house in Ramla. In Ramla today, you can see the Franciscan convent, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, the Armenian Church of St. George and many Moslem mosques.
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