Happy St George’s Day 2019! Who was England’s patron saint?
SAINT George's Day has rolled around once again as April 23 celebrates the English legend who famously slayed a dragon.
Here is the lowdown on England's patron saint…
What is Saint George’s Day and when is it?
The feast day of Saint George is celebrated by various Christian Churches and several countries and cities where Saint George is the patron saint – including England.
The day is celebrated on April 23 each year – this is the date traditionally accepted of his death in AD 303.
The country of Georgia also celebrates the feast of St George on 23 April.
Who was Saint George and where did the legend of the dragon come from?
Although Saint George is England’s patron saint, George would likely have been a soldier somewhere in the eastern Roman Empire, probably in what is now Turkey – if he ever existed.
He is also the patron saint of: Ethiopia, Georgia and Portugal, and cities such as Freiburg, Moscow and Beirut.
According to legend, George was martyred for his faith under Emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century, and there is a major shrine dedicated to him in Lod, Israel.
The earliest legend that features Saint George slaying a dragon dates to the 11th century.
The tale may have started simply as a way to symbolise the triumph of good over evil.
But, the well-known story mainly comes down to the Golden Legend – a popular collection of saints’ lives written in the 13th century.
According to one version of the story, a town in Libya had a small lake inhabited by a dragon infected with the plague.
Many of the townsfolk were being killed by the dragon so they started feeding it two sheep a day to appease it.
When the town ran out of sheep, legend has it that the king devised a lottery system to feed the hungry dragon local children instead.
But, one day his own daughter was chosen and as she was being led down to the lake Saint George happened to ride past.
The story says that George offered to slay the dragon but only if the people converted to Christianity.
They did, and the king later built a church where the dragon was slain.
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