T42D: St George’s Day
This week Rodders thinks about St George …
The 23rd April has come and gone. The BBC News has been dominated by the coronavirus story and nothing was really mentioned that it was St George’s Day.
Although the flag of St George is widely supported at sporting events, with some spectators dressing up in knightly apparel, come April 23 there is not a great fuss here in England; unlike Ireland that have a public holiday on St Patrick’s Day. This year of course is different as pubs staying open, street parties and parades are all banned.
But who was St George?
Despite being adopted as the patron saint of England, St George wasn’t actually English, and most likely never stepped foot in the country.
Born around AD 280, in what is now known as Cappadocia, Turkey, St George was a Christian martyr and became a soldier in the Roman army, later progressing to the role of a personal guard for the Emperor Diocletian.
The emperor was one of the leaders of the Great Persecution of Christians, where churches were destroyed, scriptures were burnt and followers of the faith were prohibited from joining the army and assembling for worship.
But his personal guard, St George, protested against the persecution and remained dedicated to his Christian faith, consequently facing imprisonment and torture, for seven years. He was later beheaded in Palestine on April 23, AD 303.
It wasn’t until 11th Century that any mention of the famous dragon appears though, and was expanded upon in the Golden Legend, a 13th Century text that sought to compile traditional lore about various important saints, ordered according to their feast days.
St George officially became the patron saint of England around 1350, after King Edward III established the Order of the Garter in his name.
From the 14th Century, St George was regarded as a special protector of the English. Following England’s victory at Agincourt in 1415, Shakespeare made sure St George was never forgotten, concluding the Henry V, Act III, speech with ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St George’.
St George is also the patron saint of other countries and each nation has their own way of honouring the day.
I have always liked the story of an Englishman, a Scot and an Irishman, who were having a drink at the bar. The Englishman said, “Do you know, my son was born on St George’s Day and I named him George”. “That’s interesting,” said the Scot, “my son was born on St Andrew’s Day and I named him Andrew”. The Irishman said, “Well isn’t that a coincidence, for the same thing happened to me as I said to my son, Pancake!”
But seriously, the idea of having a hero who comes to our rescue is a common theme in novels, television drama, plays and films. The probable myth of St George slaying a dragon to rescue a princess is the stuff of legends. And yet I’m sure we all would like to think that there would be someone who would act as a hero and rescue us if we were in danger.
Heroes come in different disguises. Captain Tom Moore is now regarded as a hero. The 99 year old has raised over £30 million for the NHS, by the public supporting him walking 100 laps of his garden, before his 100th birthday.
We read in the Old Testament in the book of Zephaniah chapter 3 and verse 17, ‘The Lord your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy’.
And the good news is that there is a hero who came 2,000 years ago, whose name is Jesus. He came that we may have life in all its abundance not only just life on earth, but for all eternity.
He is the only way to God and his death and resurrection shows that God accepted His sacrifice for our sins and that there is life beyond the grave and that He has made a way for all to enter in, as we put our faith and trust in Him.
So the Thought for Today is (as the apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians) ‘Now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation’. [2 Cor 6v2] and as the writer to the Hebrews says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” [Heb 3v8]
Don’t put it off because none of us knows what tomorrow may bring.