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St George

Here are some notes Ive done for the St George’s Day Scout Service this week-end. Im  not sure we English make as fuss as the Welsh or Irish do about our patron saint – but why not think a bit about him today – not that we know much for certain with so much legend attached to his personna.

The Real St George….

St. George is the patron saint of England. His emblem, a red cross on a white background, is the flag of England, and part of the British flag. St George’s emblem was adopted by Richard The Lion Heart and brought to England in the 12th century. The king’s soldiers wore it on their tunics to avoid confusion in battle.

Saint 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.Quick Facts about St George

  • Born in Turkey (in Cappadocia) c AD 270.
  • Lived in 3rd 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. 17 years – joined the Roman army and became renowned for his bravery. He served under a pagan Emperor but never forgot his  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 23 April, 303.

The popularity of St George in England stems from the time of the early Crusades when it is said that the Normans saw him in a vision and were victorious.

In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared April 23 to be St George’s Day and he replaced Edward the Confessor as England’s patron saint in the 14th century. In 1415, April 23 was made a national feast day.

St George is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine and Portugal amongst others, although he is celebrated on different days .Like England, every country in the UK has its own patron saint who in times of great peril is called upon to help save the country from its enemies.

St George is also patron saint of scouts, soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy and plague.

He kept his eyes focused on Jesus throughout his life – and was willing to die rather than deny him.

The legend.The most famous legend of Saint 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:

  1. A town was terrorised by a dragon.
  2. A young princess was offered to the dragon
  3. When George heard about this he rode into the village
  4. 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.

As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave, roaring with a sound louder than thunder. Its head was immense and its tail fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, hoping he would wound it.

The dragon’s scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces. and St. George fell from his horse. Fortunately he rolled under an enchanted orange tree against which poison could not prevail, so that the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again.

He smote the beast with his sword but the dragon poured poison on him and his armour split in two. Once more he refreshed himself from the orange tree and then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon and pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, so that it fell dead at his feet.

Umm…. a good tale at least.

April 23rd is also the day that Shakespeare was born and died.

Now you know…


April 23, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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