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
Saint George, 4th cent.?, perhaps a soldier in the imperial army who died for the faith in Asia Minor. His life is cloaked in legends; Gibbon's identification of him with George of Cappadocia is false. George is one of the great saints of the Eastern Church and the ancient patron of soldiers. A vision of St. George at the seige of Antioch during the First Crusade is said to have preceded the defeat of the Saracens and the fall of the city to the crusaders. Richard I placed himself and his army under the protection of St. George during the Third Crusade. He became the patron of England in the late Middle Ages. In old plays and in art St. George is the slayer of the dragon; The Golden Legend did much for the extension of the tale. The Red Cross Knight of Edmund Spenser's Faërie Queene is St. George and stands for the Church of England. St. George's Cross is red, and it appears in the Union Jack. Feast: Apr. 23.
See A. Barclay, Life of St. George, ed. by W. Nelson (1955, repr. 1960).
George, St. Patron saint
(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
(active 3rd–4th century) Christian martyr who became patron saint of England
in the late Middle Ages
. Many stories grew up about him, including the 12th-century tale of his killing a dragon to save a maiden. His feast day is April 23.
Saint George, town (1991 pop. 1,648), on St. George's Island, Bermuda. It was the capital of Bermuda until 1815, when it was replaced by Hamilton. During the American Civil War it harbored Confederate blockade-runners.