St George’s Day (or will it be Shakespeare Day in the future)

While many religious-based events may be said to be waning, the celebration of St George’s Day seems to be on the increase. In 2010, for the first time since 1585, the City of London hosted a Pageant of St George. It saw St George paraded through the Square Mile on horseback, surrounded by the traditional figures that included a king and his daughter, and a lamb led by a maiden. In Trafalgar Square there are food stalls, reminding us that in the 15th century, The Feast of St George was as important as Christmas.

Why is there this resurrection for a symbol of tyranny? That must be because people throughout history love to have a special celebration and a martyr who fought for them, and who they mention when going to battle. So, who is St George and how did this come about? George was named the official patron saint of England in 1415. (Mayor of London facts on St George).

George is more a saint of Christians because he is also claimed as a patron saint of Ethiopia, Georgia and Portugal, and cities such as Freiburg, Moscow, and Beirut.

Quite simply, he was a fighter, and he was killed by the order of the Roman Emperor Diocletian for his continual objection to the emperor’s torture and execution of Christians. That historic statement is made in various forms of recorded history, including a walking tour of Split in Croatia where Diocletian abdicated and retired to the palace he built. His stand for Christians appears enough to have Christians make him a Christian martyr. Interestingly Split is the closest connection between George and a dragon (our association, let’s see if it spreads) because he never actually slays a dragon. Dragons were a symbol of the devil, and all who fight class their enemy as the devil, which is where that came from, but, Split Palace basement is where the dragons lived in Game of Thrones. See our film on Split.

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Wikipedia has pages on the various Roman escapades and Christain Crusades, but the first mention of St George they claim was by the Catholic monk Bede (lived 673-735). One of the first feasts for St George is mentioned in the Durham Collectar, which is a liturgical work tentatively dated to the tenth century and is the earliest collectar to have survived in England.

The Welsh might not appreciate St George as Edward I, a crusader who reigned from 1272-1307 wore the St George’s cross to fight the Welsh. The Scottish might not appreciate St George, as in 1300, he also raised the St George’s flag over Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland. Edward III (1327–1377) put his knighthood under the banner of St George. Various church and state escalations of St George elevated him to a patron saint, not least a miraculous appearance of St. George was said to have led the Christian crusaders into battle. Estimates of the death toll of the crusades range from over one million to nine million covering the period from 1095 to 1291 reading various historians.  So, George was a soldier and used as a symbol to follow into battle.

George was born in Cappadocia, around 270AD. Cappadocia, is ancient district in east-central Anatolia, situated on the rugged plateau north of the Taurus Mountains, in the centre of present-day Turkey.

. He was an officer who rose through the ranks of the Roman army, but he protested the Romans’ torture of Christians. Diocletian, the then Emperor who is said to have killed many Christians, order the death of George for failing to recant his faith. The Christians then made him a martyr. The closest cruise port is Mersin in Turkey. On discovery holidays it is often grouped with places like Istanbul, Ephesus (Kusadasi), and Troy (Canakkale) but these would be too far to get to by a cruiser with just a day and those ports offer so much more.

He is thought to have died in Lydda (modern day Israel) in the Roman province of Palestine in AD 303. It is believed that his tomb was in Lod and was a centre of Christian pilgrimage.

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Given the warring religious nature of George, and how fashion is moving from that, we wonder of the date 23 April, which is St George’s Day and represents the day he died, might one day be renamed to Shakespeare Day, as he died on that day too, and didn’t go to war but wrote about it.