St George's Day

I have never been able to get excited about St George's Day, which is today. It's not even a national holiday in England, as it is in some other places that have him as their patron saint. 

If we have to have a patron saint in England I would prefer it to be a saint who was either English or at least lived once in England, like St Aidan for example. Yes, I know Aidan was really Irish and once lived  in Scotland, but he did live for a substantial time in Northumberland, England. And he was peace loving, which I would really like England to be. Yes, Aidan gets my vote for a national saint, rather than George. Aidan did a lot for England. George did nothing.

It was during the Reformation period in England that in 1552 all saints' banners were abolished, except that of St George the Martyr. From my garden today I can see the St George flag flying from the top of the parish church tower. With its white background and red cross it looks good against a blue sky, but I still find something about it deeply uncomfortable - probably because the way that flag has become associated with certain racist and nationalistic elements in our society. That is sad as it could be said that St George provides a good symbol of multiculturalism, as this article in the Independent newspaper sums up neatly: St George's Day: Six reasons why St George is the perfect symbol of multiculturalism

The medieval legend of George and the Dragon is shown is this Orthodox Bulgarian icon at the head of this post. (Yes, George is patron saint of Bulgaria among many other countries.). It is not surprising the legend has persisted so long. It has been variously used as inspiration to be courageous in overcoming threats. And when faced with danger we really do need courage or someone to save us. And whoever forms the next UK government after the 7 May election their ability to 'save' the country will be severely limited, whatever has been promised.

What are the threats from today's dragons that need to be dealt with, for the sake of the common good, I wonder? 3 come quickly to mind:

  • threats posed by climate change;
  • threats created by gross inequality and injustice in the world;
  • threats that result from human selfishness and lack of love for others.

I think slaying those dragons would take more than a St George. It would need God. And it would need humanity working together, locally and internationally, for the common good. What do you think?

Kevin Holdsworth also has dragons he would like to see slain. His are specific to the UK and their demise really ought to be achievable, given the will. Take a look at his blog post: Dear St George - here's 3 dragons I'd like slaying. Do you agree that those are dragons that need slaying - and if so, how?

And if all of that is a bit heavy, here just for fun is a tongue in cheek 'inoffensive' worship liturgy for St George's Day, guaranteed to offend everyone: Inoffensive liturgy of St George.

Happy St George's Day! (What's left of it.) 

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  1. I enjoyed this, Nancy, but like you would much prefer a patron sant who is more local and indeed who we can be sure really existed. Aidan would be good, or Cuthbert, a northern saint who was very much part of my childhood in Lancashire. i just can't get excited about St George.

    1. Thank you. I think there is some evidence that George actually existed in the middle east at the end of the 3rd century, but any 'facts' are rather sketchy and disputed. There's plenty of evidence of the way his memory was adopted and harnessed for many causes, including by the Crusaders, which is one reason I think why I have no strong desire to be associated with St George. Not that you can blame him for the Crusades since those were much later. I also got put off by some very boring St George's Day church parades I took part in as a Brownie and then a Guide.


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