Today England celebrates its patron saint George, the forceful mythical dragon slayer.
As the most recent Google Doodle denotes the event, many will ponder who this mythic figure was and how he came to be associated with England.
George was a Roman soldier, thought to have been born into Greek nobility in Cappadocia – modern Turkey – in 280 AD. He is said to have served the Emperor Dicoletian as a Tribune in the province of Palestine.
A pleased Christian, George would not revoke his confidence when Rome later cleansed its positions of outside impact amid the Great Persecution.
He was imprisoned, tortured, dragged through the streets of the Palestinian city of Lydda and finally beheaded on 23 April 303 AD, rather than apostatise.
His bravery in facing death is said to have so impressed the Empress Prisca that she privately became a Christian.
George’s martyrdom inspired King Edward III to make him England’s patron saint in 1327 – replacing the Anglo-Saxons’ favourite, St Edmund.
Discussion still proceeds with today over the decision of national figurehead, with some inclination that George ought to be supplanted by Edmund or another competitor all the more intently connected with England like St Alban, who is revered as the primary British Christian saint.
George is likewise regarded as the supporter holy person of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Serbia; of the areas of Aragon and Catalonia in Spain; and of the cities of Beirut, Genoa, Istanbul, Moscow and Venice.
He is also the saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and farmers, while his invocation is said to help those beset by plague, leprosy or syphilis.
The legend of his slaying a dragon appears to start in the Eastern Orthodox Church and stories told by warriors amid the Crusades.
The story happens in Silene, a city in Libya that was threatened by a textured brute, loaded with plague, who lived in a nearby lake. The animal requested an offering of two sheep daily.
At the point when the townsfolk ran out of livestock, they prepared to sacrifice their own children to its unwavering appetite at which point George, a knight errant, intervened to kill the monster and rid the people of its tyranny – on the condition that they converted to Christianity in exchange.
While the tale can’t be taken actually, it has huge symbolic weight as a picture of heroism and gallantry and remains deeply embedded within Christian culture across the world.
In England, the date of George’s execution coincides with the birth and death of William Shakespeare, our most prominent dramatist, who invokes the picture of out benefactor holy person in Henry V as the youthful ruler arouses his troops before the Battle of Agincourt.
“I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’”
While the day itself was once celebrated with dining experiences like those delighted in on Christmas Day, the event’s ubiquity faded in the eighteenth century following England’s association with Scotland.
All the more as of late, flags bearing the Cross of St George have been tarnished by association with violent far-right political groups, skinheads and football hooligans.
In any case, the case for an auspicious revisionist rehashing of George as a positive multicultural icon is a compelling one.
He was, all things considered, a migrant from a diverse background who battled for his received reason without trading off his beliefs – mixing with people from across Europe in the Roman legions – and knew the pain and sorrow of being victimised for his principles.
The restoration of interest for George as a token of national pride has been encouraged in recent years by the likes of English Heritage, the Scouts and by Boris Johnson during his tenure as Mayor of London.
Parts of England do still honour George with annual fetes and pageants and traditional entertainments like morris dancing and Punch and Judy shows, while pubs fly the flag and “Jerusalem” rings out in churches and chapels.