Here in England, we all know that St George is our Patron Saint. The Flag of St George (the red cross on a white background) is the flag of England and his story is embedded in our national psyche. To celebrate St George’s Day (23rd April), here are some facts you may not know about St George and the Dragon. Or are they just myth?
St George’s sword was one of those special swords with a name – Ascalon. It’s also possible that this could have been the name of his lance, as one story says the dragon’s blood melted St George’s sword and so he killed the dragon with his lance. Churchill’s personal aircraft in during the Second World War was called Ascalon.
2. St George is Patron saint of other countries and regions
Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece are some of the regions of which he is Patron Saint. He is also Patron Saint of Moscow, the capital of Russia. Moscow’s coat of arms has a picture of St George slaying the Dragon
3. St George was probably born in Turkey
St George was probably born in Cappadocia, which is now part of Turkey.
4. St George was a Christian Martyr
He was tortured and imprisoned in protest at Rome’s persecution of Christians and then probably beheaded at Lydda in Palestine in the 3rd Century AD, on the orders of Dicoletian, the Roman Emperor. He is celebrated throughout the Christian world as an early Martyr.
5. The Story of St George and the Dragon may date from the 12th century
The Golden Legend, printed by Caxton in 1483 was the first mass circulation of the legend which may have emerged centuries after St George’s death. The story is based in Libya near a town called Silene. S. Baring-Gould, a Devon priest in the nineteenth century with an interest in folklore and magical creatures, reproduced it here 500 years later.
6. There is an English Legend too
The English village of Wormingford in Essex was renamed from Withermunford after Sir George Marney killed a dragon on the banks of the River Stour in the reign of Richard I. ‘Worm’ was an early medieval word for dragon. In fact this dragon was probably a crocodile that had escaped from the Tower of London!
7. St George’s Day became a Feast Day in the thirteenth century
St George’s Day became a Feast Day for all of England in 1222. St George replaced the Saxon Patron Saint of England, St Edmund, in the reign of Edward III a century later. Edward III also founded the Order of the Garter, based at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
8. Fact or Fiction?
The myth of St George and the Dragon is widespread and it is unclear whether it actually has anything to do with the Christian matryr. What is clear is that history, fiction and faith have merged the stories to create the image we know today.
9. The “True” Story of St George and the Dragon
The true story of St George and the Dragon emerged in the publication of The Palace Library in 2012. It is told to three children by Edwin of Axmouth in January 1164.