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 their patron.
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 about him.
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
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 martyr.
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 Canterbury:
"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 antedate 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 (Sakartvelo
in 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 Holy Land:
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.