“Cry God for Harry, England, and St. George!”

Who Was St. George?

Very little is known about St. George’s life, but it is believed that he was a high-ranking officer in the Roman army who lived around AD 303.

Emperor Diocletian subjected St. George to severe torture in an attempt to make him renounce his Christian faith. Despite the agony, St. George displayed remarkable courage and unwavering faith. Eventually, he was beheaded near Lydda in Palestine. His head was later interred in a church dedicated to him in Rome. Legends of his strength and bravery spread throughout Europe.

St George isn’t just the patron saint for England. He also holds this position for Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to Saint Mark).

The flag of Saint George – a red cross on a white background – is England’s national flag and is incorporated into the Union Flag (the UK’s flag).

The Dragon-Slaying Myth

The best-known story associated with St. George is his battle with a dragon. However, it is highly unlikely that he ever fought an actual dragon.
In the Middle Ages, the dragon symbolized the Devil, and the tale of St. George slaying the dragon emerged during this period.
According to legend, St. George killed a dragon on Dragon Hill in Uffington, Berkshire. It is said that no grass grows where the dragon’s blood trickled down!

Patron Saint of England

King Edward III declared St. George the Patron Saint of England when he established the Order of the Garter in St. George’s name in 1350.
King Henry V further promoted the cult of St. George during the Battle of Agincourt in northern France.
In Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, the king famously declares, “Cry God for Harry, England, and St. George!”

Interestingly, Shakespeare himself was born around St. George’s Day in 1564 and is believed to have died on the same day in 1616.

Remember, St. George represents bravery in adversity and noble defence of the innocent—a fitting patron for England!

Sources historic-uk.com; history.co.uk; bbc.co.uk; theguardian.com; britannica.com