St. George

Saint George (c.303) Who Was He?

Both Ireland and Wales are blessed with Patron Saints who worked in their respective countries. The Scots have Saint Andrew as their Patron; he was a disciple of Jesus. But who was Saint George?

Little is actually known about Saint George, except that he lived in Lydda, in Israel, where his tomb was well known locally. It is believed that George was a Roman soldier.

The legend of him fighting a dragon is a very late one, added to him long after his death, but it is still worth retelling. The dragon was a local pest which terrorised a whole region and was only kept at bay by a daily offering of two sheep. When sheep became scarce, humans were offered as a substitute, each victim being chosen by lot. This worked reasonably well until the lot fell on the king's daughter. She went to her fate dressed as a bride, but was spared when George rode in and pierced the beast with his lance and bound it in her girdle. When he returned the princess to her father, George would take no reward except that the king led his subjects to become Christians. 15,000 men were baptised.

More plausible is the story that George refused to fight in the Roman army, and was martyred for his faith.

As a soldier, George became an obvious choice as Patron Saint for the soldiers called to fight in the Crusades, especially as one historian states that Richard I once stayed in a Church in Ramleh where George was reputed to have been buried. As Richard prayed, he placed his entire army under George's care.

George remained a minor saint, restricted mainly within the army, until Henry V made his famous speech before the Battle of Agincourt, invoking George as England's Patron Saint. From then, George's popularity has ebbed and flowed. George almost disappeared during the Reformation, but then took on a new popularity with the growth of romantic art.

Read a Lesson For Today

Back to Windows Index Page

Site Map