A symbol of courage and dignity
"St George shows us the lessons we’ve yet to learn and gives us an example to follow."
Why is the Patron Saint of England a man who quite possibly never even came to this country?
Born in Turkey during the 3rd Century, and made the Patron Saint of England by the 14th, St George was a high ranking officer in the Roman Army. His leader Emperor Diocletian was a pagan who wanted George to deny his Christian faith.
It is said George was actually offered valuable material goods in order to persuade him to convert and yet he wouldn’t. Even when Diocletian put him through horrific torture, our saint refused to surrender his beliefs.
St George was beheaded on 23rd April AD 303. One of his last acts was donating all his money to those less fortunate than himself.
So we have a saint whose life is still very relevant today. We live in a world where people are brutally attacked for their religious beliefs and where there are so many in need of what wealth we can afford to spare. St George shows us the lessons we’ve yet to learn and gives us an example to follow.
Persecution and poverty are global issues. And St George is not exclusive to England. Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Russia and Portugal are among the other countries that have named George as their Patron Saint.
People are possibly more familiar with the myth of George and the Dragon, in which George rids the people of Silene, Libya of a dragon that has eaten their sheep and maidens, and is about to feast on the town’s princess.
A theme of the above is of course bravery. Thus St George has been adopted by those that require such a characteristic. English soldiers donned his symbol on their armour in the 14th Century.
It may be argued that there are groups that have tampered with the symbol of St George, using it to broadcast controversial views, to the point where some of us feel unsure about waving the St George flag for fear of what people might think of us.
But on 23rd April we should wave the flag in celebration of what lies at its roots, and that’s the virtues of courage and dignity…both things that are worth showing up at a parade or dinner for.
St George’s Day takes place on 23rd April.
• St George’s torture apparently consisted of being crushed between two spiked wheels and boiled in molten lead – and yet he survived.
• It is said that Emperor Diocletian’s wife was so in awe of St George’s courage at the hands of her husband’s brutality that she converted to Christianity and was executed herself as a result.
• There is a version of George and the Dragon in which the hero defeats the beast on what is now Dragon Hill in Uffington (situated below the Uffington White Horse). Apparently there is a spot where the grass does not grow due to dragon blood being spilt there.
• St George died on 23rd April, allegedly the same day Shakespeare was born and the same day the Bard passed away.
• George is also the Patron Saint against Herpes, Leprosy, Plague, Skin diseases, Skin rashes and Syphilis. Moreover, he is the Patron Saint of shepherds, farmers, agricultural workers, field workers and butchers.
Related Articles: The art of Shakespeare