St. George's Day Celebration - Saturday 21st April
Who was 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 it hurts to say that he wasn't actually English at all. Very little is known about the man who became St George, but enough is known to paint a picture of man of gallantry and principle.
Quick Facts about St George:
- Born in Turkey (in Cappadocia)
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, but unfortunately was finally beheaded near Lydda in Palestine on 23 April, 303.
In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared 23rd April to be St George's Day and he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England's patron saint in the 14th century. In 1415, the 23rd of April was made a national feast day.
St. George - The Dragon Slayer...
All that superman from Turkey stuff may be claimed to be the truth, but we prefer this version...
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 main facts:
1. A town in Libya was terrorised by a dragon
St. George travelled for many months by land and sea until he came to Libya. When in Libya he met a poor hermit who told him that everyone in that land was having a terrible time and were all 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 decided to stay the night in the hermit's hut, and at daybreak set out to the valley where the dragon lived. He carefully approached the dragon's lair and as he drew near he saw a small procession of women, headed by the most beautiful girl - dressed in pure Arabian silk. This was the Princess Sabra, who was being led by her attendants to the place of death. St. George jumped to it - the knight spurred his horse and overtook the ladies. He turned and spoke with them; he reassured them and comforted them with brave words and persuaded the princess to return to the palace. Then he entered the valley to confront the nasty dragon.
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 some fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid, and he stood tall on his horse. He then struck the monster with his spear, sure that he would wound it. But the dragon's scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces and St. George fell from his horse. Quite fortunately, it must be said, he rolled under an enchanted orange tree. This orange tree had secret and magic properties, and withstood evil. His luck was in. No poison could prevail, so that whilst he was under this tree (and lucky for him) the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Quite handy. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again.
He attacked the beast again with his sword, but the dragon poured poison on him and his armour broke up and fell to the ground. But he swiftly retreated to the safety of the enchanted orange tree where he refreshed himself again, using the tree's powers. Then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon yet again and this time he pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, so that it fell dead at his feet. Game over. He had conquered the nasty dragon. The Princess Sabra was reportedly very happy too (we're not sure what happened between them after that, but she was definitely indebted to him...).
St. George - he was a top man; a true legend. And we think he was really from Ascot.