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St. George

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Saint George

Very little is known about England's patron saint.  You are unlikely to get asked many questions about him, except on or around the 23rd of April.  There was a round about him in MQL, in April 2009.  I was shocked to realise how little I knew about him, and how obscure most of the questions seemed.  A little research seemed to be called for; and this page is the result.

It should, I hope, cover everything you might need to know - and more.

"The Catholic Encyclopaedia takes the position that there seems to be no ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint George, but that no faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories about him." (Wikipedia - retrieved January 2012.)

He is variously known as St. George of Lydda and St. George of Cappadocia.  (He was born, according to most sources, in Cappadocia, and executed at Lydda.)

The legend of St. George and the Dragon has pre–Christian roots. It has been associated with that of Perseus and Andromeda. The dragon is said to represent a pagan cult.

13th century hagiography, printed by Caxton 1483: one of the principal sources for the legend of St. George, including the story of the dragon (Latin Legenda Aurea, or Legenda Sanctorum) Click to show or hide the answer
The name George means Click to show or hide the answer
Modern country that includes the place of George's probable birth (to a noble Christian family, c. 280 AD) Click to show or hide the answer
Region of Turkey that George's family came from – still used in the tourist industry; also the earliest known source of the dragon legend, which actually predates George (and Christianity itself) Click to show or hide the answer
Roman Emperor, 284–305 AD (of the East only from 286), under whom George served as a highly–valued Tribune (soldier) Click to show or hide the answer
Capital of the Eastern Empire under Diocletian – also in Turkey – where George was possibly born and/or executed Click to show or hide the answer
One of the few undisputed facts about George's life is that he was tortured and executed (probably at Nicomedia) for renouncing Diocletian's edict that every Christian soldier should be arrested, and/or for refusing to make sacrifices to the Roman gods (on 23rd April, according to the legend) in the year Click to show or hide the answer
City (now in Israel), where George was executed and buried; also, according to some accounts, his birthplace. Captured by Muslims in 636 and repeatedly recaptured during the Crusades; finally retaken from Saladin in 1191. a.k.a. Diospolis Click to show or hide the answer
Modern name for Lydda (site of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport) – where a shrine and a tomb said to be that of George can still be seen Click to show or hide the answer
Silene, the scene of the legendary slaying of the dragon (Salone in the Golden Legend; possibly Cyrene, a Greek colony) was in modern Click to show or hide the answer
The name of the princess that he saved from the dragon (from a ballad in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 1765; used as a source e.g. in paintings by Sir Edward Burne–Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti) Click to show or hide the answer
Name of the sword with which George killed the dragon (according to the mediaeval romances) – named after a city in modern Israel (Ashkelon) where the final action of the First Crusade took place, and used by Churchill in WWII as the name of his private plane Click to show or hide the answer

Oxford Synod declared St. George's Day (23rd April) a feast day in England, in Click to show or hide the answer
English King who founded the Order of the Garter (1348) to promote the codes of knighthood, under the banner of St. George; dedicated the chapel at Windsor Castle to him Click to show or hide the answer
Edmund Spenser, in The Faerie Queene (1590 and 1596) referred to George as Click to show or hide the answer
St. George's Day was demoted to a simple day of devotion for English Catholics, in Click to show or hide the answer
George was demoted to a third class minor saint in the Universal Calendar of Saints Click to show or hide the answer
George was restored to the Universal Calendar by Pope John Paul II in Click to show or hide the answer

As well as England, George is also the patron saint of:

Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany, Greece;
Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa, Venice (second to St. Mark);
Soldiers, archers, cavalry, chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers;
he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis

© Haydn Thompson 2017