The patron saint of England is St George and today is Saint George’s Day!
For many people in England, today is an ordinary working day, although this year with it being so close to Easter, some people may still be on holiday. The 23rd April is the traditionally accepted date of St George’s death in AD303. His parents were Greek Christians and his father was an officer in the Roman army. George also became an officer in the Roman army and although he is the patron saint of England, he wasn’t English and there is no hard evidence to suggest that he ever came to England.
Crusaders were early Trailers!
When the first crusaders set off (calling themselves ‘pilgrims’), they wore large red cloth crosses, hence the subsequent naming of ‘crusade’, originally derived from the latin word ‘crux’. As pilgrims, the original crusaders saw themselves as undertaking an armed mission or pilgrimage, and the ‘taking of the crux’ all the way to Jerusalem symbolised their vows that would only be fulfilled upon reaching their destination. The first crusade was 1096 to 1099 and the popularity of St George seems to rise with the Crusades. He was reported to have appeared during the battle of Antioch in 1098, although the first church in England to be dedicated to him was earlier than this, in Doncaster, in 1061.
King Richard I (the Lionheart) of England adopted St George during the Third Crusade (1191-2) and he became the patron saint of England during the late Middle Ages. In 1415 Henry V used him to rally his troops before the battle of Agincourt and in the 15th Century St George’s Day was as popular as Christmas!
So where did he do his Trailing?
As well as England, St George is also the patron saint of umpteen other places and whilst it is hard to identify exactly where he travelled to he is associated with various countries including Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, George, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Russia. Interestingly he is also the patron saint of several cities – Amersfoort, Beirut, Bteghrine, Caceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Pomorie, Qormi, Lod and Moscow. This isn’t a definitive list as there are other places included in different sources.
Scouts, soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers amongst many others all also claim him as their patron saint. With thanks to Project Britain for the information!
He is always depicted as a knight carrying a shield with a red cross (or a banner with a red cross), generally sitting on a horse and always killing a dragon!
English Heritage has a whole list of events associated with St George happening this weekend. Or you could make your own entertainment, by going out on a Trail dressed as St George and carrying your sword in case you meet any dragons along the way!
Upload your St George’s Day photos onto our facebook site – we’d love to see them.
Sources: Wikipedia, Project Britain, Britannia
Amanda Ingham 23rd April 2014
Posted In: Did You Know