Saint George is the patron saint of England. The anniversary of his death (303 AD) is today, Monday, 23 April, and it is seen as England’s ‘National Day.’
Do you know Saint George’s story? According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army and killed a dragon to save a princess. Traditional customs see Londoner’s waving the English flag (St. George’s Cross) and wearing a red rose. Saint George’s popularly identified with England and the English ideals of honour, bravery and gallantry.
Saint George’s life is very mysterious, and the information we have is not certain. He was born in Cappadocia, an area which is now in Turkey and later moved to Palestine. He became a Roman soldier, and because he protested against Rome’s persecution of Christians, he was imprisoned and tortured. However, throughout all of this, he stayed true to his beliefs.
George’s reputation grew with the crusades; legend says he appeared miraculously to lead the crusaders into battle. This event is recorded in stone over the south door of a church in Fordington, Dorset.
National Day celebrations include a big parade with floats, music and dancing and a special St. George’s Day service. Shakespeare’s birthday falls on the same day, and the Globe Theatre will be having its usual big celebrations.