Happy St George’s Day To all Our Readers

St. George’s Day is celebrated on the 23rd of April every year as this is the date traditionally accepted of his death in AD 303. The legend says that England’s patron, St. George slew an evil dragon that was plaguing a local town and saved a princess.

The holiday is traditionally Christian as the story says that St. George offered to kill the dragon only if the town converted to Christianity. 


St George’s Day: 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about England’s patron saint

St George’s Day, marked on 23 April each year, is upon us once again, and interest surrounding the festival of England’s primary patron saint shows no sign of abating. It’s common knowledge that – according to legend, at least – St George killed a dragon. But what else do you know about him?


St George is not English

Very little is known about the actual man. If he ever existed (and there’s no proof he did), George would likely have been a soldier somewhere in the eastern Roman Empire, probably in what is now Turkey. According to legend, he was martyred for his faith under Emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century, and his major shrine is located in Lod, Israel.

His earliest legends were so outlandish that the Pope condemned them

Early Christians were known to exaggerate the tortures endured by their martyrs, but St George is in a league all of his own. According to one source, St George was torn on the rack, hit on the head with hammers until his brains oozed out, forced to drink poison, torn on a wheel, boiled in lead, and much else besides – all over a period of seven years.

A fifth-century decree attributed to Pope Gelasius declared that, lest it give rise to mockery, the details were not be read out in church.


He was one of several military saints honoured in the Byzantine Empire

Others included Theodore, Demetrius, and Mercurius. All of these saints had been soldiers when alive, and continued their patronage of the Byzantine army in death – especially St George, who became the most popular.

Crusaders to the Holy Land in 1099 adopted this tradition of military saints, and brought the veneration of St George back to Western Europe.

St George is also connected to agriculture

His name means ‘earth-worker’ – that is, farmer – and his feast day of 23 April is in the spring, when crops are starting to grow. Many people throughout European history have prayed to St George for a good harvest.

The dragon was not always a part of St George’s story

The earliest legend that features St George rescuing a princess from a dragon dates to the 11th century. It may have started simply as a way to explain icons of military saints slaying dragons, symbolising the triumph of good over evil.

For the permanent association of St George and the dragon we have to thank the Golden Legend, a popular collection of saints’ lives written in the 13th century.

He is the patron saint of many places

These include countries like Ethiopia, Georgia and Portugal, and cities such as Freiburg, Moscow and Beirut. George was seen as an especially powerful intercessor, and the dragon story has a universal appeal.7

St George was known as ‘Our Lady’s Knight’ in medieval England

As a patron of crusading, St George easily became the quintessential knight. And every knight needs to serve a lady – who better than the Blessed Virgin Mary herself?

Edward I is ultimately the reason why St George ‘became’ English

As a crusader, Edward I (r 1272–1307) acquired an affinity for St George, and back in England outfitted his troops with the St George’s cross when fighting the Welsh. He raised St George’s flag over Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland in 1300, among other things.

Later, Edward III, hoping to revive the glories of his grandfather’s reign, founded the Order of the Garter under the patronage of St George.9

St George appeared to the English army at the battle of Agincourt in 1415

King Henry V (r 1413–22) was especially devoted to St George, as is reflected in Shakespeare’s play. The idea later arose that St George had actually appeared to the English during the battle of Agincourt in 1415, which was a stunning victory for them against the French.

The Reformation was not kind to St George

Even King Edward VI himself mocked the legend as improbable. But the poet Edmund Spenser, among others, kept George’s legend alive as a romantic and nationalistic story. And it is one that shows no signs of losing its appeal.

source – www.historyextra.com

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