Top 10 facts about St George
TODAY is St George’s Day, the feast day of England’s patron saint, so here are 10 things you might not have known about the saint.
- St George is thought to have been a third-century Roman soldier, who was born in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina to a Greek Christian noble family around AD280. Today Syria Palaestina is split between Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Israel.
- St George was imprisoned for resigning his military post and protesting against Roman emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD) against Christian persecution. He was subsequently tortured and finally beheaded for refusing to give up his Christian faith and his local traditions. He was put to death on April 23, AD303.
- St George was an immigrant, who moved country to look for work. Moving from Syria to modern Turkey where he became a palace guard for Emperor Diocletian.
- In some parts of Russia, a youth is adorned with leaves and flowers. In Slovenia, they call him Green George, and is like the English May Day tradition of Jack in the green. Holding a lighted torch in one hand and a pie in the other, he goes into the cornfields followed by singing girls, where he blesses the fields.
- The first reference to St George in England is found in the Martyrology of the Venerable Bede, who died in 735
- The first dragon-killing legend surfaced in 11th century Cappadocia, now in Turkey.
- St George is also patron saint of Bulgaria, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Malta, Slovenia and Russia. He is also patron saint of many cities such as Beirut, Ferrara, Genoa, Gozo, Milan, Preston, Barcalona and Moscow, as well as a wide range of professions and organisations.
- Russians also celebrate St George’s Day on November 3rd and 26th.
- In Georgia, where St George’s Day is celebrated twice a year, medieval scholars in the Middle Ages started to refer to Gruzia (Russian derived from Perisian and Turkish) as Georgia – an anglicisation of the word and reference to St George.
- In 1969, Pope Paul VI demoted Saint George to ‘optional worship’ due to doubt about the authenticity of his history. He was not until 2000, that Pope John-Paul reinstated him.