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The perfect saint for an adventurous England

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George's colours and England's: the red Cross on a white ground. Never mind those who opine that George is not the right saint for England.

George is the perfect saint for England because:

He liked to travel, he liked adventures, and he rallied to hopeless causes.

Following the Christian code of chivalry, he defended a vulnerable woman and her city. With his polished offensive skills, he confidently tackled the resident dragon.

Like many English who fought for justice, George knew that death might be right around the corner. Like them, he believed it was better to do right than worry.

Finally, and not to be sneezed at, George was successful.

He slew the dragon and saved the girl and her town. Then he galloped off to England from the Mideast. Some historians say he never arrived.

But that is to assign an entirely material view to a saint. George appeared in a stained glass window at the monastery of Jarrow in the 7th century and in the history of the Venerable Bede in the 8th century.

First George became known as the patron saint of English farmers (his Greek name combines the words for land and tilling). Then he became the patron saint of English knights.

Not long after Magna Carta, at the synod of Oxford in AD 1222, George was given a feast day. In 1381 the farmers and artisans who marched on London seeking economic justice in the Great Revolt, marched under his banner.

George was finally recognized as patron saint of England in the 15th century, during Henry V's reign, and given Shakespeare's stamp of approval 180 years later - 'God for Harry, England and St George!'

The English thoroughly vetted him.

Right at home

As the patron saint of England, George was 'linked by name to beneficent institutions of all kinds, to hospitals and charities as well as churches. . .' (Oxford DNB). Guilds and associations called him their champion. Appealing to a nation of theatregoers, George became an action hero in plays.

As late as the early 20th century, the Scouts named him their patron saint. George Orwell took the name George in affection for St George and England.

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It's hard to dislike a hero who invites us to have a beer.

George's personal attractions are evident in cheerful English pub signs. Some show him reviving with an ale after his encounter with the fiery reptile, just as you might do, reptiles coming in many shapes these days.

Considerable hot air has been blown at George of late. Happily he has retained his cool.

Happy St George's Day!

Comments (1)

Death Bredon:

Nothing against St George, but I miss St. Edmund as patron.

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