England celebrates its national day tomorrow (Sunday, April 23), with the spotlight shining on St George.
Here are ten facts you probably didn’t know about the man who has been our Patron Saint since the 14 century
ST GEORGE WASN’T ENGLISH
Nope. He was born Cappadocia- which is now part of modern day Turkey.
AND HE DIDN’T EVEN VISIT ENGLAND
Our Patron Saint never set foot on English soil.
HE IS THE PATRON SAINT OF MANY OTHER COUNTRIES AND CITIES
St George is the Patron Saint Lithuania, Portugal, Germany and Greece, as well as cities including Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice.
HE WAS A ROMAN SOLDIER
After the death of his father, St George moved to Palestine with his mother and became a Roman soldier, rising to the high rank of Tribunus Militum.
HE DIDN’T ACTUALLY SLAY A DRAGON
St George was adopted in England because the story in The Golden Legend, about his slaying of a dragon, was similar to an Anglo-Saxon legend. However, he didn’t actually slay a dragon- because it turns out they don’t exist!
HE WAS EXECUTED FOR HIS RELIGION
St George was tortured before being put to his death on the April 23 303 by Emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD) for refusing to give up Christianity.
AND SO WAS THE EMPEROR’S WIFE FOR TAKING A SHINE TO HIM
The Emperor’s wife was so inspired by St George’s bravery and loyalty to his religion that she too became a Christian and was also executed for her faith.
HE DIED ON THE SAME DAY AS SHAKESPEARE
St George died on the same date as Shakespeare. St George died on 23 while Shakespeare followed on that day in 1616.
A QUARTER OF PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHO HE IS
A recent survey found a quarter of England’s population do know who their Patron Saint is.
PEOPLE USED TO WEAR ROSES TO SIGNIFY ST GEORGE’S DAY
A popular custom in bygone years was for people to wear a red rose in their button hole, the national flower for the national day.