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April 23, 2017

Happy St George

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Most people have dragons to face. If you do, St George may be the saint for you. Here are three reasons we like him and he is happy--

George always retains his cool, despite the hot air and hostility he encounters.

George likes to travel, enjoys adventures and has a special feeling for underdogs.

A princess about to be devoured by a dragon qualifies as an underdog if not dog food. At real risk to himself, George defends her. He doesn't take this decision after a PR consult. He has principles. Defending the vulnerable is one of them. One gains the impression he is serious but enjoying himself.

These are some excellent reasons for admiring George, and even following his example, but historians say that George never arrived in England.

This is probably true if you possess a material view of saints.

Howe'er, 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. By the 10th century he was the patron saint of English farmers. (His name, which is Greek, combines the Greek words for land and tilling.)

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 George's banner.

George was affirmed patron saint of England in the 15th century, during Henry V's reign. He was given Shakespeare's stamp of approval 180 years later - 'God for Harry, England and St George!' Both George Orwell and a young 21st century prince bear his name.

George may only have visited England in spirit, but he made an impression.

George was a Christian. Following Jesus Christ makes all the difference to George and to Britain's history of fair play and freedom .

As patron saint of England, George is 'linked by name to beneficent institutions of all kinds, to hospitals and charities as well as churches. . .' (Oxford DNB). Guilds and associations call him their champion. He is the patron saint of the Scouts.

Pub signs sometimes show George reviving with an ale after his encounter with the fiery reptile. Reptiles coming in many shapes these days, we raise our glass to George and to heroes of every age.

This is a slightly edited, previously published post

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