St George’s Day is on 23 April each year. The day commemorates St George who is the patron saint of England. A patron saint is the protecting or guiding saint of a person or place.
Who Was St. George?
Little is known for definite about St George but it is believed that he was born in Cappadoccia (which is in modern day Turkey) in the 3rd Century AD. He was the son of English parents and was brought up as a Christian. He became a Roman soldier and served Emperor Diocletian who worshipped the Roman Gods. George protested against the Romans’ persecution of Christians so was imprisoned, tortured and was eventually beheaded. Throughout he stayed true to his Christian beliefs. George was canonised in AD 494 by Pope Gelasius who said that George was one “whose names are rightly reverenced among us, but whose actions are known only to God.”
Myth and Legend – George and the Dragon
St George is perhaps most famous for the story of him slaying a dragon. This story, from medieval times, has become legend and St George is often depicted on a white horse, sword in hand with a slain dragon at his feet.
Legend has it that in the city of Silene the people went to a nearby spring every day to get water. A dragon made its nest near the spring so the people took it a sheep each day to distract it whilst they got water. When there were no more sheep they decided to take a maiden from the town instead. Each day lots were drawn to decide who would be taken. One day, the name drawn was the princess of the town – Cleolinda. Despite the King’s protests his daughter was taken to the dragon. At that moment a brave knight came riding by on a fine white horse. It was George! He made the sign of the cross to protect himself, drew his sword and slayed the dragon, rescuing the princess. The people of Silene were so grateful that they converted to Christianity.