St. George is popularly identified with England and English ideals of honour, bravery and gallantry, but actually he wasn’t English at all. Very little is known about the man who became St. George.
- Born in Turkey (in Cappadocia)
- Lived in the third century
- His parents were Christian
- Became a Roman soldier
- Protested against Rome’s persecution of Christians
- Imprisoned and tortured, but stayed true to his faith
- Beheaded at Lydda in Palestine
St. George is believed to have been born in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the year A.D. 270. He was a Christian. At the age of seventeen he joined the Roman army and soon became renowned for his bravery. He served under a pagan Emperor but never forgot his Christian faith.
When the pagan Emperor Diocletian started persecuting Christians, St. George pleaded with the Emperor to spare their lives. However, St. George’s pleas fell on deaf ears and it is thought that the Emperor Diocletian tried to make St. George deny his faith in Christ, by torturing him. St George showed incredible courage and faith and was finally beheaded near Lydda in Palestine on 23rd April, 303.
In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared April 23rd to be St George’s Day and he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England’s patron saint in the 14th century. In 1415, April 23rd was made a national feast day.
St George is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Pomorie, Qormi, Lod and Moscow.
St. George is also patron saint of scouts, soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers.
The Legend Of St. George And The Dragon!!
The most famous legend of St. George is of him slaying a dragon. In the Middle Ages the dragon was commonly used to represent the Devil. The slaying of the dragon by St George was first credited to him in the twelfth century, long after his death. It is therefore likely that the many stories connected with St George’s name are fictitious.
There are many versions of story of St. George slaying the dragon, but most agree on the following:
- A town was terrorised by a dragon.
- A young princess was offered to the dragon
- When George heard about this he rode into the village
- George slayed the dragon and rescued the princess
St. George travelled for many months by land and sea until he came to Libya. Here he met a poor hermit who told him that everyone in that land was in great distress, for a dragon had long ravaged the country.
‘Every day,’ said the old man, ‘he demands the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden and now all the young girls have been killed. The king’s daughter alone remains, and unless we can find a knight who can slay the dragon she will be sacrificed tomorrow. The king of Egypt will give his daughter in marriage to the champion who overcomes this terrible monster.‘
When St. George heard this story, he was determined to try and save the princess, so he rested that night in the hermit’s hut, and at daybreak set out to the valley where the dragon lived. When he drew near he saw a little procession of women, headed by a beautiful girl dressed in pure Arabian silk. The princess Sabra was being led by her attendants to the place of death. The knight spurred his horse and overtook the ladies. He comforted them with brave words and persuaded the princess to return to the palace. Then he entered the valley.
- Despite the fact that St. George has been the patron saint of England since the 14th century, only one in five people know that St. George’s Day falls on 23rd April.
- More than a quarter of people living in England do not even know who their patron saint is…but that doesn’t include you!
- William Shakespeare was born on 23rd April 1564 and he died on the same day in 1616.