By Robert Reed
St. George, or Georgius as named by his mum and dad, came from Lydda in Palestine. He followed his father’s footsteps and became an officer in the Roman army. Georgius seemed destined for a brilliant military career, until it was decreed that soldiers were banned from being Christian. That was a problem because there was no way that George was going to renounce his faith. He was martyred on 23rd April CE 303 after some very unpleasant treatment.
The more popular story of George as a knight in shining armour defeating the dragon and saving a fair maiden dates from the Golden Legend– a thirteenth-century best seller in England.
If you’d like to read or perform St George’s story with children – in class or in a school assembly – visit : http://artdramascripts.com/st_georges_play where you could find a brilliant fictitious fun play featuring Saint George and his heroic quests adapted from the legend of St George and the Dragon.
George became the model of a chivalrous knight- the kind of bloke who’d give your granny a ride on his horse back from Tesco with all her shopping without complaint. The English began to call upon St. George’s help in tricky situations: for example, before the battle of Agincourt, “Cry ‘God for Harry, England and Saint George!’”
Nowadays, St. George’s Day is celebrated with parades, pageants, a few re-enactments of St. George’s altercation with the dragon, and lots of flag waving of course. People used to wear a red rose in their lapel, but that doesn’t happen any more. (I think that’s a pity.)
Also, Saint George is the patron saint of several other countries, including Georgia. In fact, the Georgians loved the legend of St. George so much they named their entire country after him (kind of).
Interestingly enough, the 23rd April is the same day William Shakespeare was born… and died.
If you’d like to find out more about St. George, visit: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/stgeorge.html .