April 23 marks St. George’s Day in many places, including England, where the event is a national holiday. Not only is Saint George the patron saint of England, but is also an important figure in other countries around the world. In this article, you will learn more about who St. George was and what he accomplished.
Who was St George?
St. George is the patron saint of England, who is typically represented by an emblem consisting of a red cross on a white background. This imagery also appears on the flag of England, and is part of the British flag as well. Richard The Lion Heart embraced St George’s emblem and introduced England to it during the 12th century. As a result, the soldiers for the king wore it on their tunics so that there was no confusion as they engaged in battle.
In harsh times, it is commonplace for the people to turn towards a figure to give them hope, courage, or help when the country is facing troubled times. For England, St. George served that purpose.
St George was a Roman soldier described as being full of bravery. It was he who protested against the Romans’ torture of Christians. Because of this, he lost his life as he stood by his beliefs. The popularity of St. George grew, especially during the days of the early Crusades. The Normans claimed to have seen him in a vision and credited their success to George.
Not much is known about the man who became the patron saint of England. Interestingly, St. George wasn’t even English. George was born in what is now known as Eastern Turkey during the 3rd century. His parents were Christians and he later joined the Roman army when he was 17 years old. As a soldier, he gained a reputation for being quite brave. Although he served under a pagan emperor, Diocletian, George was a Christian at heart.
When Emperor Diocletian started to persecute Christians, George begged the emperor to spare their lives. When he protested against the treatment of Christians, the emperor wanted George to denounce his faith. When he did not, he was sent to prison and tortured. However, he never wavered in his beliefs. George was eventually beheaded at Lydda in Palestine, but he was still true to his faith and showed great courage. The date was April 23, 303.
St. George became the patron saint of England, but was also honored in other locations about the world, including Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia.
To learn more about St. George, read the following articles: “St. George and the Dragon Legend” and “10 Facts About St. George,” which speaks on the saint and the holiday in his honor.