Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thursday Royal Trivia...
The Dragon Slayer~England's Patron Saint~St. George
Who is George and why is he the Patron Saint of England? George was a Roman soldier who protested against the burning of Christians in the late 3rd century. George grew up in a household where his father was a Roman Citizen,a pagan, his mother was a Christian from Palastine. George was raised a Christian. As a young man he joined the Roman army under the Emperor Diocletian. He excelled as a soldier of great courage. Diocletian issued a series edicts through-out the Roman Empire rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding their compliance with pagan rituals. George openly declared he was a Christian and tore down the Emperor's edicts. He was then tortured and dragged behind horses through the streets, but would not renounce his Christianity. He was publicly beheaded on April 23, 303, thus becoming a Christian Martyr. Prior to his execution he gave away his vast estate to the poor.
St. George would be called upon for aid in battles, or in times of great need. When victory occured churches were often built in honor of him. He became very popular during the Crusades and the knights would carry his flag the white with red cross into battle for courage. The Knights of Templar wore his flag as a tunic over their armor to be recognized as a holy order of knighthood.
St. George the Dragon Slayer: upon returning from the 1st Crusade the knights came home with a legand about a dragon that made a nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene" in Libya. Consequently, the citizens have to remove the dragon from its nest for a time, in order to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the cross, slays it and rescues the princess. The grateful citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.
For England it was King Edward III during the late 14th century that truly venerated St. George. Edward was known for his promotion of the codes of knighthood. He founded the Order of the Garter the highest level a knight could aspire to. Edward had a chapel at Windsor Castle dedicated to the soldier St.George who represented the knightly values of chivalry which he so much admired. To this day the Garter ceremony takes place in St. George's Chapel every year. St. George Feast Day is celebrated yearly on April 23rd the day of his execution.