Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St. George

Today is the feast of St. George, patron of England. Little is actually known of his real life: he was a Roman soldier who was martyred for the faith under the Emperor Diocletian. He was born between AD 275 and 281, Nicomedia, Bithynia in modern-day northwestern Turkey, and died on April 23, 303, Lydda in Palestine. As far as I know his becoming the patron saint of England largely dates from the time of the crusades.

St. George is popularly associated with the famous legend of him slaying the dragon. Today this is much dismissed as a medieval fantasy, yet it is highly symbolic, for the dragon that is slain is none other than the beast of the apocalypse. He may seem an unusual choice for this country, but in fact it is very appropriate for we have always been a country with a very strong military tradition. As St. George slayed the dragon, it was England that was to save Western Europe from the terrible scourge of totalitarianism in World War II.

It is a sign of hope that the celebration of his day has been revived recently. Entirely secular though the intentions may have been, the Feast of St. George has recently been raised to a solemnity. His intercession for our country is much needed today: by his help and intercession may the dragon of the culture of death be slain.

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