The annual celebration of England’s principal patron saint, St George’s Day, falls on April 23 this year, and the excitement surrounding the event shows no signs of waning. Most people know that St George was slain by a dragon, at least according to mythology. But, other than that, what else do you know about St George? We present you with the facts.
George Was Not An English Person
St George is cherished as a national hero, despite the fact that he was born in the third century AD in Cappadocia, more than 2,000 kilometres away (modern-day Turkey).
He is said to have died around Lydda (modern-day Israel) in the Roman province of Palestine around AD 303. His tomb was claimed to be at Lod, which was a prominent Christian pilgrimage site at the time.
And He Was Not Even A Knight
Although George is frequently portrayed in popular culture as a knight in shining armour, the truth is less amazing.
While St George has been shown as a chivalric knight or a horseback warrior from the 11th century, he was most likely a Roman army officer.
George Was A Saint And A Martyr
St George, like many other saints, was labelled a martyr after he died for his Christian religion.
St George is thought to have been killed during Emperor Diocletian’s persecutions in the early fourth century for refusing to offer a sacrifice in honour of the pagan gods.
He Has Never Visited England
Despite the fact that St George never visited England, his reputation for virtue and purity spread across Europe, and his feast day, April 23rd, was celebrated in England from the ninth century onward.
He became well-liked by English rulers. Edward I (1272-1307), for example, had banners with the St George insignia (a red cross on a white backdrop), while Edward III (1327-77), for example, had a relic of his blood. Until Henry VIII’s reign, the St George cross was not used to symbolise England.
The Dragon was added later
Although this tradition precedes the genuine George by several centuries, St George is claimed to have ridden into Silene (modern-day Libya) to free the city from a dragon with a craving for humans.
Images of George with the dragon may be found dating back 500 years after his death, in the 9th century. These might have started out as simple renderings of the Good vs. Evil fight. During the Middle Ages, the narrative was developed and popularised by The Golden Legend, a compilation of saintly traditions.
For 1000 years, St. George was a saint
In AD 494, Pope Gelasius canonised St George as one of the saints whose deeds are known only to God, but whose names are treasured by mankind. The feast day of St. George, which has been regarded to be the day of his martyrdom for hundreds of years, is celebrated in England on April 23. St George’s Day became one of the most prominent feast days in the English calendar after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
George’s Day Is Not Only Celebrated In England
St George is a genuinely universal saint, and England is not the only country or territory to have him as its patron saint.
St George is the patron saint of England, as well as Venice, Genoa, Portugal, Ethiopia, and Catalonia, among others, and each of these places has its feasts and rituals in his honour.
For Protection, People Went To St. George
People thought St George was one of the ‘Fourteen Holy Helpers,’ a group of saints who could help in epidemics throughout the Middle Ages. Several fatal and infectious diseases were safeguarded by St. George, including the Plague, leprosy, and many more.
From roughly 1100, English forces requested St George’s help to defend them. “Harry, thank you so much! In William Shakespeare’s Henry V, the king exclaims, “England, and St. George!” during his battle cry at the Battle of Harfleur in the famous “Once again unto the breach, loyal friends!” “a speech A ghostly apparition of St George is said to have helped British soldiers escape from Mons during the First World War, and the leader of the Zeebrugge Raid praised the saint for his inspiration.
Those We Honour Are Represented By St. George
The Organization of the Garter (established by Edward III in 1348) is the country’s highest chivalric order, and Queen Elizabeth II serves as its Sovereign. The Garter emblem still has St George’s cross on it, and his picture remains on the pendant on the Garter chain.
In 1940, King George VI established a new medal for deeds of exceptional bravery or heroism in the face of tremendous peril. George Cross, named after the king, features the motif of St George vanquishing the dragon. Many of the memorials created to honour soldiers slain in World War One include the iconography of St George.