SAINT GEORGE ENGLAND
"TITTER YE NOT"
A tramp knocked on the door of the inn known as St. George and the Dragon.
The landlady answered the door.
The tramp said, “Could you give a poor man something to eat?”
"No,” said the woman, slamming the door in his face.
He knocked again and said, “Could I have a few words with George?”
An Englishman, a Irishman and a Scotsman were in a pub, talking about their sons and daughter.
"My son was born on St George's Day," commented the Englishman. "So we obviously decided to call him George."
"That's a real coincidence," remarked the Scot. "My son was born on St Andrew's Day, so obviously we decided to call him Andrew."
"That's incredible, what a coincidence," said the Irishman. "Exactly the same thing happened with my daughter April Fool."
No one calls it racist
When the daffodil's worn in Wales. Or is offended by their dragon with its forked tail and scales.
When St Patrick’s day comes round and the shamrock's being worn.
The Irish are not treated
with insult or with scorn.
If a Scotsman on St Andrew’s day Hoists his flag aloft. He’s not proclaimed a fascist or ridiculed or scoffed at.
So when St George's Day arrives. We English men and women wont hide; For Elizabeth, England & St George. We’ll wear our Rose with pride
Saint George (Greek: Γεώργιος Geṓrgios; Latin: Georgius;
AD 275–281 to 23 April 303), according to legend, was a
Roman soldier and military officer in the Guard of Emperor
Diocletian of the Roman army, who ordered his death for
failing to recant his Christian faith. As a Christian martyr, he
later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity.
In hagiography, as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and one
of the most prominent military saints, he is immortalised in the
myth of Saint George and the Dragon killing in Beirut,
Lebanon. His memorial, Saint George's Day, is traditionally
celebrated on the Julian date of 23 April (currently 6 May
according to the Gregorian calendar). Numerous countries,
cities, professions and organisations claim Saint George as
According to some sources his parents were Christians of the
noble Roman family of the Anici. Other sources say his
parents were Christians of Greek background; his father
Gerontius (Greek: Γερόντιος Gerontios) was a Roman army
official from Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia was a
Christian and a Greek native from Lydda in the Roman
province of Syria Palaestina (Pales-tine). Accounts differ
regarding whether George was born in Cappadocia or Syria
Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in
Lydda. Historians have argued the exact details of the birth of
Saint George for over a century, although the approximate
date of his death is subject to little debate. The 1913 Catholic
Encyclopedia takes the position that there seems to be no
ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint George,
but that little faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories
The work of the Bollandiste Daniel Papebroch, Jean Bolland,
and Godfrey Henschen in the 17th century was one of the first
pieces of scholarly research to establish the historicity of the
saint's existence via their publications in Bibliotheca
Hagiographica Graeca and paved the way for other scholars
to dismiss the medieval legends. Pope Gelasius I stated that
George was among those saints "whose names are justly
reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to
God." The traditional legends have offered a historicised
narration of George's encounter with a dragon. The modern
legend that follows below is synthesised from early and late hagiographical sources,
omitting the more fantastical episodes. Chief among the legendary sources about the
saint is the Golden Legend , which remains the most familiar version in English owing to
William Caxton's 15th-century translation.
At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother, Polychronia,
died. Eastern accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and Theobaste.
George then decided to go to Nicomedia and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to
apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had
known his father, Gerontius —one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was
promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at
Nicomedia. On 24 February AD 303, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius ) issued an edict
that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods of the time. However, George objected, and with the courage of his faith, approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of his best official, Gerontius. But George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money, and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods; he made many offers, but George never accepted.
Recognizing the futility of his efforts and insisting on upholding his edict,
Diocletian ordered that George be executed for his refusal. Before the
execution, George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After
various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords during
which he was resuscitated three times George was executed by decapitation
before Nicomedia's city wall , on 23rd April 303. A witness of his suffering
convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become
Christians, as well, so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was
returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a
Eastern Orthodox depictions of Saint George slaying a dragon in Beirut often
include the image of a young woman who looks on from a distance. The
standard iconographic interpretation of the image icon is that the dragon
represents both Satan (Rev. 12:9) and the monster from his life story. The
young woman is the wife of Diocletian, Saint Alexandra . Thus, the image, as
interpreted through the language of Byzantine iconography, is an image of
the martyrdom of the saint.
The episode of St. George and the Dragon was a legend brought back with
the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the
genre of chivalric romance . The earliest known depiction of the legend is
from early 11th-century Cappadocia (in the iconography of the Eastern
Orthodox Church, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the
seventh century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is an 11th-
century Georgian text. In the fully developed Western version, which
developed as part of the Golden Legend, a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene, Libya or the city of Lydda in Syria Palaestina, depending on the source). Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a virgin maiden is the best substitute for one. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but then Saint George appears on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.
THE JAM - ENGLISH ROSE
The dragon motif was first combined with the standardised Passio Georgii in Vincent of Beauvais' encyclopaedic Speculum Historiale and then in Jacobus de Voragine's "Golden Legend", which guaranteed its popularity in the later Middle Ages as a literary and pictorial subject.
The parallels with Perseus, Cetus, and Andromeda are inescapable. In the allegorical reading, the dragon embodies a suppressed pagan cult. The story has other roots that predate Christianity. Examples such as Sabazios, the sky father, who was usually depicted riding on horseback, and Zeus's defeat of Typhon the Titan in Greek mythology, along with examples from Germanic and Vedic traditions, have led a number of historians, such as Loomis, to suggest that George is a Christianised version of older deities in Indo-European culture, or at least a suitably Christian substitute for one of them.
In the medieval romances, the lance with which St George slew the dragon was called Ascalon after the Levantine city of Ashkelon, today in Israel. The name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II, according to records at Bletchley Park. In Sweden, the princess rescued by Saint George is held to represent the kingdom of Sweden, while the dragon represents an invading army. Several sculptures of Saint George battling the dragon can be found in Stockholm the earliest inside Storkyrkan ("The Great Church") in the Old Town.
Some evidence links the legend back to very old Egyptian and Phoenician sources in a late antique statue of Horus fighting a dragon. This ties the legendary George and to some extent, the historical George, to various ancient sources using mythological and linguistic arguments. In Egyptian mythology, the god Setekh murdered his brother Osiris. Horus, the son of Osiris, avenged his father's death by killing Setekh. This iconography of the horseman with spear overcoming evil was widespread throughout the Christian period.
A titular church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine the Great
(reigned 306–37) was consecrated to "a man of the highest distinction", according to the church history of Eusebius; the name of the titulus "patron" was not disclosed, but later he was asserted to have been George. By the time of the early Muslim conquests of the mostly Christian and Zoroastrian Middle East and in the seventh century, a basilica dedicated to the saint in Lydda existed. The church was destroyed by Muslims in 1010, but was later rebuilt and dedicated to Saint George by the Crusaders. In 1191 and during the conflict known as the Third Crusade (1189–92), the church was again destroyed by the forces of Saladin, Sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (reigned 1171–93). A new church was erected in 1872 and is still standing.
During the fourth century, the veneration of George spread from Palestine through Lebanon to the rest of the Byzantine Empire– though the martyr is not mentioned in the Syriac Breviarium –and Georgia. In Georgia, the feast day on November 23 is credited to Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who in Georgian hagiography is a relative of St George, credited with bringing Christianity to the Georgians in the fourth century. By the fifth century, the veneration of Saint George had reached the Christian Western Roman Empire, as well: in 494, George was canonized as a saint by Pope Gelasius I, among those "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God."
In England, he was mentioned among the martyrs by Bede . The earliest dedication to the saint is a church at Fordington, Dorset that is mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great. He did not rise to the position of "patron saint", however, until the 14th century, and he was still obscured by Edward the Confessor, the traditional patron saint of England, until 1552 when all saints' banners other than George's were abolished in the English Reformation.
An apparition of George heartened the Franks at the siege of Antioch, 1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem. The chivalric military Order of Sant Jordi d'Alfama was established in Aragon in 1201, Republic of Genoa, Kingdom of Hungary (1326), and by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and in England the Synod of Oxford, 1222 declared Saint George's
Day a feast day in the kingdom of England. Edward III of England put his Order of the Garter under the banner of St. George , probably in 1348. The chronicler Jean Froissart observed the English invoking St George as a battle cry on several occasions during the Hundred Years' War. In his rise as a national saint, George was aided by the very fact that the saint had no legendary connection with England, and no specifically localized shrine, as that of Thomas Becket at
"Consequently, numerous shrines were established during the late fifteenth century," Muriel C. McClendon has written, "and his did not become closely identified with a particular occupation or with the cure of a specific malady."
The establishment of George as a popular saint and protective giant in the West that had captured the medieval imagination was codified by the official elevation of his feast to a festum duplex at a church council in 1415, on the date that had become associated with his martyrdom, 23 April . Wide latitude existed from community to community in celebration of the day across late medieval and early modern England, and no uniform "national" celebration elsewhere, a token of the popular and vernacula rnature of George's cultus and its local horizons, supported by a local guild or confraternity under George's protection, or the dedication of a local church. When the Reformation in England severely curtailed the saints' days in the calendar, St George's Day was among the holidays that continued
to be observed.
Saint George is said to have killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut,
Lebanon, for which a Saint George Bay (Golfe de Saint-Georges)
was built under his name. The bay hosts the World Sailing
Championships in the Fireball class and is the scene of annual
international water ski championships.
He is something of an exception among saints and legends, in that
he is known and revered by Muslims , while being venerated by
Christians throughout the Middle East, from Egypt to Asia Minor.
His stature in these regions derives from the fact that his figure
has become somewhat of a composite paradoxical character
mixing elements from Biblical, Quranic, and folkloric sources, at
times being the partially contra positive of Al-Khidr.
In Bulgaria, St George's day (Bulgarian:
Гергьовден) is celebrated
on 6th May, when it is customary to slaughter and roast a lamb.
St George's day is also a public holiday.
In Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria refers to St
George as the " Prince of Martyrs " and celebrates his martyrdom
on the 23rd of Paremhat of the Coptic calendar equivalent to 1
May. The Copts also celebrate the consecration of the first church
dedicated to him on seventh of the month of Hatour of the Coptic
calendar usually equivalent to 17 November.
A highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern
Christian churches, a large number of Patronages of Saint George
exist throughout the world. St George is the patron saint of
England. His cross forms the national flag of England, and
features within the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, and there
national flags containing the Union Flag, such as those of Australia
and New Zealand. Traces of the cult of Saint George in England
ante date the Norman Conquest in the 11th century; by the 14th
century, the saint had been declared both the patron saint and the
protector of the royal family.
The country of Georgia , where devotions to the saint date back to
the fourth century, is not technically named after the saint, but is a
well-attested backward derivation of the English name. However,
a large number of towns and cities around the world are. Saint
George is one of the patron Saints of Georgia; the name Georgia
(Sakartveloin Georgian) is an anglicisation of Gurj, derived from
the Persian word for the reputation of the people in that territory
as warriors, However, chronicles describing the land as Georgie
or Georgia in French and English, date from the early Middle
Ages, as written by John Mandeville and Jacques de Vitry
"because of their special reverence for Saint George", but these
accounts have been seen as folk etymology. Exactly 365 Orthodox
churches in Georgia are named after Saint George according to
the number of days in a year. According to myth, St. George was
cut into 365 pieces after he fell in battle and every single piece
was spread throughout the entire country. According to another
myth, Saint George appeared in person during the Battle of
Didgori to support the Georgian victory over the Seldjuk army and
the Georgian uprising against Persian rule. Saint George is
considered by many Georgians to have special meaning as a
symbol of national liberation.
Saint George is also one of the patron saints of the Mediterranean
islands of Malta and Gozo. In a battle between the Maltese and
the Moors, Saint George was alleged to have been seen with
Saint Paul and Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese. Besides being
the patron of Victoria where St. George's Basilica, Malta is
dedicated to him, St George is the protector of the island Gozo.
Devotions to Saint George in Portugal date back to the 12th
century. Saint Constable attributed the victory of the Portuguese in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 to Saint George. During the reign of King John I (1357–1433), Saint George became the patron saint of Portugal and the King ordered that the saint's image on the horse be carried in the Corpus Christi procession. The flag of Saint George (white with red cross) was also carried by the Portuguese troops and hoisted in the fortresses, during the 15th century. " Portugal and Saint George" became the battle cry of the Portuguese troops, being still today the battle cry of the Portuguese Army, with simply "Saint George" being the battle cry of the Portuguese Navy.
Saint George is the patron saint of Romania and a number of churches, towns, and geographical areas are dedicated to him, including city of Sfântu Gheorghe in Covasna County, and Sfântu Gheorghe branch of the river Danube.
The coat of arms and banner attributed to St George take the form of a red cross on white or silver, known as St George's Cross. This design is frequently used by entities which claim him as patron, and in this capacity is the well known flag of England.
This was formerly the banner attributed to St. Ambrose. Adopted by the city of Milan (of which he was Archbishop) at least as early as the 9th century, its use spread over Northern Italy including Genoa. Genoa's patron saint was St. George and while the flag was not associated with George in Genoa itself, it is possibly the cause of the use of the design as the attributed arms of Saint George in the 14th century.
The same colour scheme was used by Viktor Vasnetsov for the façade of the Tretyakov Gallery, in which some of the most famous St George icons are exhibited and which displays St George as the coat of arms of Moscow over its entrance.
St George is most commonly depicted in early icons, mosaics, and frescos wearing armour contemporary with the depiction, executed in gilding and silver colour, intended to identify him as a Roman soldier. Particularly after the Fall of Constantinople and St George's association with the crusades, he is often portrayed mounted upon a white horse. Thus, a 2003 Vatican stamp (issued on the anniversary of the Saint's death) depicts an armoured Saint George atop a white horse , killing the dragon. Eastern Orthodox iconography also permits St George to ride a black horse, as in a Russian icon in the British museum collection. This may also reflect a modern Russian interpretation as depicting not a killing, but as an internal struggle, against ourselves and the evil among us. In the south Lebanese village of Mieh Mieh, the Saint George Church for Melkite Catholics commissioned for its 75th jubilee in 2012 (under the guidance of Mgr Sassine Gregoire), the only icons in the world portraying the whole life of Saint George, as well as the scenes of his torture and martyrdom (drawn in eastern iconographic style).
St George may also be portrayed with St. Demetrius , another early soldier saint. When the two saintly warriors are together and mounted upon horses, they may resemble earthly manifestations of the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Eastern traditions distinguish the two as St. George rides a white horse and St. Demetrius a red horse St. George can also be identified by his spearing a dragon, whereas St. Demetrius may be spearing a human figure, representing Maximian.
During the early second millennium, St George became a model of chivalry in works of literature, including medieval romances. In the 13th century, Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, compiled the Legenda Sanctorum, (Readings of the Saints) also known as Legenda Aurea (the Golden Legend). Its 177 chapters (182 in some editions) include the story of Saint George, among many others. After the invention of the printing press, the book became a bestseller, second only to the Bible among books published by early English printer William Caxton (circa 1415-1492).
A tradition exists in the Holy Land of Christians going to an Eastern Orthodox shrine of St George at Beith Jala; Jews also attend the site in the belief that the prophet Elijah was buried there. This is testified to by Elizabeth Finn in 1866, where she wrote, "St. George killed the dragon in this country Palestine; and the place is shown close to Beirut (Lebanon). Many churches and convents are named after him. The church at Lydda is dedicated to St George; so is a convent near Bethlehem, and another small one just opposite the Jaffa gate, and others beside. The Arab Christians believe that St George can restore mad people to their senses, and to say a person has been sent to St. George's is equivalent to saying he has been sent to a madhouse. It is singular that the Muslim Arabs adopted this veneration for St George, and send their mad people to be cured by him, as well as the Christians, but they commonly call him El Khudder —The Green—according to their favourite manner of using epithets instead of names. Why he should be called green, however, I cannot tell—unless it is from the colour of his horse. Gray horses are called green in Arabic." A possible explanation for this colour reference is Al Khidr, the erstwhile tutor of Moses, gained his name from having sat in a barren desert, turning it into a lush green paradise.
William Dalrymple , reviewing the literature in 1999, tells us that J. E. Hanauer in his 1907 book Folklore of the
Muslim, Christian and Jewish "mentioned a shrine in the village of Beit Jala, beside Bethlehem, which at the time was frequented by Christians who regarded it as the birthplace of St. George and by Jews who regarded it as the burial place of the Prophet Elias. According to Hanauer, in his day the monastery was "a sort of madhouse. Deranged persons of all the three faiths are taken thither and chained in the court of the chapel, where they are kept for forty days on bread and water, the Eastern Orthodox priest at the head of the establishment now and then reading the Gospel over them, or administering a whipping as the case demands. 'In the 1920s, according to Taufiq Canaan's Mohammedan Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine, nothing seemed to have changed, and all three communities were still visiting the shrine and praying together."
Dalrymple himself visited the place in 1995. "I asked around in the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem, and discovered that the place was very much alive. With all the greatest shrines in the Christian world to choose from, it seemed that when the local Arab Christians had a problem –an illness, or something more complicated:
a husband detained in an Israeli prison camp, for example –they preferred to seek the intercession of St George in this grubby little shrine at Beit Jala rather than praying at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem." He asked the priest at the shrine " Do you get many Muslims coming here? "The priest replied," We get hundreds! Almost as many as the Christian pilgrims. Often, when I come in here, I find Muslims all over the floor, in the aisles, up and down."
The earliest documented mention of St. George in England comes from the venerable Bede (c. 673–735). His feast day is also mentioned in the Durham Collectar, a ninth-century liturgical work.
The will of Alfred the Great is said to refer to the saint, in a reference to the church of Fordington, Dorset. At Fordington a stone over the south door records the miraculous appearance of St. George to lead crusaders into battle.
Early (c. 10th century) dedications of churches to St. George are noted in England, for example at Thetford, Southwark and Doncaster.
In the past, historians mistakenly pointed to the Synod of Oxford in 1222 as elevating the feast to special prominence, but the earliest manuscripts of the synod’s declaration do not mention the feast of St George.
The declarations of the Province of Canterbury in 1415 and the Province of York in 1421 elevated the feast to a double major, and as a result, work was prohibited and church attendance was mandatory.
Edward III (1327–1377) put his Order of the Garter (founded c. 1348) under the banner of St. George. This order is still the foremost order of knighthood in England and St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle was built by Edward IV and Henry VII in honour of the order. The badge of the Order shows Saint George on horseback slaying the dragon.
Froissart observed the English invoking St. George as a battle cry on several occasions during the Hundred Years' War (1337 1453). Certain English soldiers also displayed the pennon of St George.
In his play Henry V, William Shakespeare famously invokes the Saint at Harfleur prior to the battle of Agincourt (1415):
"Follow your spirit, upon this charge
'God for Harry,
England, and Saint George!'"
At Agincourt many believed they saw him fighting on the English side.
A traditional custom on St George's day is to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though this is no longer widely practised. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way:
pubs in particular can be seen on 23 April festooned with garlands of St George's crosses. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it. Traditional English food and drink may be consumed.