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St George's Day

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Happy St George's Day – 23rd April

St George, patron saint of England, was an early Christian martyr who, despite being hailed as a national hero in England, was actually born in Cappadocia, now part of Turkey. And probably died in what is now Israel. Apparently he never actually visited England.

Thought of as a knight and often depicted in the customary shining armour, it is more likely he was an officer in the Roman Army.

And he didn't slay any dragons. Depictions of him doing so date to the 9th century, long after George's execution in the 4th century for refusing to honour pagan gods. It is thought these images may symbolise the battle between good and evil.

So he isn't English, he wasn't a knight and he slayed no dragons.

However, just his reputation for virtue and holiness which spread across Europe earned him the honour of patron saint of England.

English kings such as the Edwards I and III held him in high regard and the red St George Cross began to be associated with England during the reign of Henry VIII.

The St George Cross represents England on the Union Flag in a design dating back to the Act of Union in 1801, alongside the Saltires of St Andrew and St Patrick of Scotland and Ireland. Wales didn't get its dragon on there – it was at the time considered part of the kingdom of England – a principality.

George is also patron saint of: Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the regions of Catalonia and Aragon in Spain, and Moscow. No doubt amongst many other regions and institutions.

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