Unknown Master, St. George Confronts the Ruler

18th or 19th century
St. George Chapel, Ljubljana Cathedral

The cathedral's printed guide calls this fresco "the saint's justification before the King." There are many variations of the story of St. George's martyrdom, but I know of none that involves "justification." In all versions, on the other hand, the saint does confront a pagan ruler, either the Emperor Diocletian or a person named "Dacian." Dacian is a Roman prefect in the Golden Legend, but a Persian Emperor in some other accounts.

Perhaps the identity of George's antagonist did not matter to the artist. On the one hand, the ruler wears a turban as if from the exotic East and thus could be Dacian. On the other, the veiled priest and the statue in classical style imply a Roman setting, so he could be Diocletian.

Most of the legends say that when he learned of the persecution of Christians George resigned from the army and went to preach the faith where the persecutions were ongoing. In the fresco his uniform references his military past but the big cross on his chest symbolizes his new mission. It also refers to the military orders that will one day confront the turbaned rulers of Palestine in the Crusades.

This image in full resolution
More of St. George

Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.