George, St. St George, patron saint of England and of several other countries, is said to have been martyred at Lydda in Palestine in the 4th cent. and began to attract reverence in the 6th cent. Ælfric included him in his homilies and saints' lives c.1000. The story of the dragon appears as late as the 12th cent. and is presumably a reminiscence of Perseus and Theseus. His adoption as patron saint of England is post-Conquest though a church in Doncaster was dedicated to him in 1061. Crusaders may have brought back accounts of the respect paid him in the Middle East and the red cross may have come from the same source. The Synod of Oxford in 1222 made St George's Day, 23 April, a lesser holy day. The cult probably gathered pace after the foundation of the Order of the Garter in 1348, with the emphasis on chivalry and St George as patron. Caxton printed the 13th-cent. Golden Legend in 1483 and in 1515 Alexander Barclay published a translation of Spagnuoli's Georgius. The saint was still holding his own in late Victorian England, when Elgar wrote The Banner of St George for Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. He is often confused with George of Cappadocia, a 4th-cent. Aryan bishop of Alexandria.
J. A. Cannon
George, St. Patron saint of England (and of soldiers, knights, etc.) and martyr. Very little is known of his life or death, but he probably died at or near Lydda in Palestine c.303. His cult and legends did not become popular until the 6th cent. In the E. he is known as the great martyr, megalomartyros. The slaying of the dragon (a standard symbol of strength) is first credited to him only in the 12th cent., but became widely known in the W. through the Golden Legend.
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