April 23rd – it comes once a year, giving the English an excuse to inflate their ego, show themselves off to the world and claim they are the bravest of people. Why? Because of St George’s Day; it is a day dedicated to a historic Christian soldier who is the definition of bravery, and he just so happens to be England’s patron saint.
Since St George became England’s patron saint in 1348 AD, the annual day of his beheading has become a chance for England to celebrate everything English – and they have a lot to be proud of, including;
– a worldwide language
– a magnificent monarch
– national treasures the rest of the world adore, such as Harry Potter, James Bond (007) and William Shakespeare.
But one thing they are very proud to claim is their image of bravery, and that stems all the way from the story of ST George and the Dragon which dates back more than 1000 years.
Once Upon a Time…
In a beautiful and peaceful town in Libya named Silene. The people worked together to keep their homeland calm and efficient, sending teams out to collect water from the fresh water source just a little way out of town. However, one day when the small group arrived at the stream, they found a massive dragon with formidable, gleaming teeth and claws sharper than their farming equipment had nested on the riverbank. As a peace offering, the young farmer among them sacrificed a couple of sheep which distracted the dragon long enough for the group to retreat.
But the dragon now knew humans were nearby and demanded food in exchange for keeping its distance. Every week, the farmers offered their animals and the dragon left their homes alone. However, their stock soon ran out and no animals were left to be sacrificed. That was when the town moved onto presenting young maidens to the dragon, drawing lots to see who would be sacrificed each week. Regrettably, Princess Cleolinda was soon drawn and tied to a tree near the dragon’s nest. The princess cried and begged for help, but at midday the dragon approached, licking its lips.
Just before the dragon snapped its boat-sized jaws around the princess, a knight came galloping through the underbrush on a white stallion. His armor shone as bright as the monster’s teeth. His sword was as sharp as any of its talons. His shield was as thick as any one of its scales. He dismounted his steed and fought the dragon, swinging his weapon and ducking and dancing around its thundering feet. Eventually, one of his strikes rang true and pierced the beast in the chest. The dragon crumpled in a scaly, red heap and the knight rescued the princess from her restraints. She asked his name and he replied, “George, my lady. I fought for you and for the Lord, my God.”
The people of Silene were astounded that a knight had fought and defeated the dragon, believing it was his religion that had kept him safe. Because of this, they abandoned their pagan beliefs to convert to Christianity.
Now, the Dragon obviously never existed, but it was a suitable story to tell children where the dragon, the princess and Silene all represent specific things. The dragon represents The Emperor Diocletian who led the romans in the persecution of Christianity, which is represented by the princess.
The real St George may not have slain a dragon, but he was no less brave. It is said that he was born in Eastern Turkey to Christian parents and he found himself deeply devoted to their beliefs.
His time as a Roman soldier came to an abrupt end when he started protesting against Emperor Diocletian who led the Romans in the persecution of Christians. St George was arrested and tortured, but his faith never wavered, aggravating the Emperor all the way to enragement. The Emperor arranged for St George to be dragged through the streets of their city and beheaded in front of everyone, but even when the axe was baring down on his neck, St George remained true to his religion. This inspired the Emperor’s wife who thought his religion must be something magical to earn such loyalty from a severely brutalized man, so converted to Christianity herself. Therefore, The Emperor’s wife is representing in the story by Silene, who follow St George’s lead.
Celebrate St George’s Day this year by reminding yourself of everything the English lay claim to. And, just like St George, prove your bravery by sticking to your opinion no matter what you’re faced with.