The 23rd April, 2014…Saint George’s day. It’s the time of year for us to celebrate what it is to be English! With the World Cup rapidly approaching many of us will be adorning the cross of St George when our team takes to the stage in Brazil, but in order to help you fully embrace what it is to be English, here’s a little history…
What is ‘St George’ all about?
The reluctance of the English to celebrate our heritage through fear of offending other cultures is probably why many of you reading won’t know who St George was, and what he and his legacy stood for. Time to change I feel…St George is the patron saint of England, his emblem is the red cross on a white background and it symbolises everything it is to be England. The St George emblem was adopted by Richard The Lion Heart and finally brought to England in the 12th century. It became one of the first uniforms when the English Kings soldiers wore the red cross and white background on their tunics to identify themselves from the enemy during battle.
Who actually was St George?
St George was a highly regarded, brave Roman soldier who valiantly protested against the Roman’s torture of Christians…he died as a result of his beliefs. Now I don’t know about you, but irrespective of what religion he stood for, no matter who he protested against, I just like the fact that someone would stand up against torture and injustice in any shape or form. England’s willingness to welcome other nationalities, races and cultures into our country is personified by what our patron saint stood for. Despite him being England’s patron saint, St George is believed to have actually been born in Cappadocia, Turkey, to Christian parents around A.D. 270.
What he did…
Aged 17 he joined the Roman army serving under a pagan Emperor but always staying true to his Christian faith. In no time at all he became known for his bravery in war. It is thought that the Emperor Diocletian began to persecute Christians causing St George to plea that he spared their lives. Consequently Emperor Diocletian attempted to torture St George into denying his faith in Christianity, but he didn’t manage it, resulting in the beheading of St George near Lydda in Palestine on this day, A.D. 303.
Such was St George’s bravery that he is now patron saint not only of England, but also 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. A pretty popular guy some might say!
What is he best known for?
St George’s legend is of him slaying a dragon, which was a symbol of the devil in the Middle Ages, as well as saving a princess who had been offered as sacrifice.
Barrow, M. (2014). Project Britain. British Life and Culture. The Real St George. Retrieved 23rd April, 2014, from http://projectbritain.com/stgeorge3.html