St. George’s Day: A Sign of England’s Multiculturalism

"St George's Day in Gravesend, Kent b" by Glen - Flickr: St George's Day in Gravesend, Kent. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“St George’s Day in Gravesend, Kent b” by Glen – Flickr: St George’s Day in Gravesend, Kent. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Today marks the celebration of St. George the patron Saint of England.

St. George was born into a noble Christian family in Turkey and went on to serve in the Roman army.

His emblem was a red cross on a white background which is now England’s flag and part of the British flag.

St George’s emblem was adopted by Richard The Lion Heart and brought to England in the 12th century.

St. George was a man that signifies multiculturalism.

From the diversity of his heritage to the fact he is a patron saint  in many multicultural countries.

He traveled the globe serving and working in various countries.

He was an immigrant and spread new religious teachings in other countries; although often being persecuted for his beliefs.

The Story of St. George

There are many accounts giving what are believed to be the facts outlining the life of England’s Patron Saint.

Below are the widely accepted ‘facts’ of St George’s life:

St George was born to Christian parents in A.D. 270 (3rd Century) in Cappadocia, now Eastern Turkey.

He moved to Palestine with his Mother and became a Roman soldier, rising to the high rank of Tribunus Militum.

However, he later resigned his military post and protested against his pagan leader, the Emperor Diocletian, who led Rome’s persecution of Christians in Italy.

His rebellion against the Emperor resulted in his imprisonment.

The enraged Diocletian had St George dragged through the streets of Nicomedia, Turkey, on the 23rd of April 303 AD and had him beheaded.

The Emperor’s wife was so inspired by St George’s bravery and loyalty to his religion, that she too became a Christian and was subsequently executed for her faith.

Embed from Getty Images

The Legend of St George and the Dragon

The legend of St George and the dragon is one that has been passed down for over a thousand years.

The tale goes that the dragon made its nest by the fresh water spring near the town of Silene in Libya.

The people of Silene would offer the Dragon sheep as a distraction as they came to collect water from the spring.

Eventually the people of Silene had no more sheep to offer the dragon so instead they decided to offer maidens from the town by drawing lots.

After the people had drwan lots, it became apparent that it was the princess that would be offered as a martyr to the Dragon.

Despite the Monarch’s protest his daughter Cleolinda had to be offered to the Dragon.

Then a miracle occurred at the time of offering- a knight from the Crusades came riding by on his white stallion.

It was St George.

"Paolo Uccello 047b" by Paolo Uccello - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Paolo Uccello 047b” by Paolo Uccello – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

He dismounted his horse and drew his sword, protecting himself with the sign of the cross.

He fought the Dragon and killed the beast, saving the princess.

The people of Silene were overwhelmed and in awe of St. George and his faith that had protected him.

It was said they abandoned their beliefs to convert to Christianity.

Facts About St. George’s Day

In 1222 the Council of Oxford declared April 23rd to be St George’s Day.

It was not until 1348 that St George became the Patron Saint of England.

In 1415, St George’s Day was declared a national feast day and holiday in England after English Soldiers under Henry V won the battle of Agincourt.

The battle of Agincourt and St. George features in the play Henry V by William Shakespeare.

Cry God for Harry, England and St George

                                                                      –  William Shakespeare 

A church in Fordington, Dorset, records the ‘miracle appearance’, where St George presented himself outside Jerusalem in 1099 and led the Crusaders into battle.

This story is etched into stone over the southern door of the church which still stands today.

It is the earliest known church in England to be dedicated to the patron Saint.

English soldiers wore a sign of St George on their chest and on their backs in the 14th century, as the Saint was regarded as a special protector of the English.

King Edward III founded the Order of the Garter in 1348, the premier order of chivalry or knighthood in England.

The Order was put under Saint George’s patronage and the medal is awarded on the 23rd April by the reigning Monarch.

St George was chosen as the patron saint of Scouting, because of the ideals that he represents.

He is also the Patron Saint of Barcelona in Catalonia, Aragon, Russia, Bavaria, Beirut, Czechoslovakia, Portugal, Lithuania and Hungary, to name but a few.

Almost every country in Europe and the Commonwealth has a church dedicated to St. George.

Why isn’t St. George’s Day a Bank Holiday?

Historian Diarmaid Macculloch said:

The English, being Protestants for nearly five centuries, have never had much time for saints’ days – same with the Scots. Neither really need their patron saints to celebrate nationhood.

The proposal that St George’s Day should be a Bank Holiday has been in decline since the union of Scotland and England at the end of the 18th century.

However support for reinstating the day as a bank holiday has been growing in recent years and has been brought up in the House of Commons every year since 2006.

UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall stated:

It saddens and angers me that this day marking Englishness is so low key compared to how days for the other three countries of the union are publicly celebrated.

The situation has improved over recent years but it passes by unrecognised by many English people.

I have long argued that it should be a declared a Bank Holiday and I have not lost my passion for that idea.

St. George the very essence of England Multiculturalism 

St. George a man who was born in Turkey, a man loyal to the Christian faith, a Patron to many countries and a warrior for the most multicultural European empire known throughout history.

S.t George shows that in the modern day that we together are one.

It symbolises the diversity of England and how we are a country of multicultural ideals.

Happy St. Georges Day!

The Hymn of St. Georges Day – Jerusalem 




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