Friday, 23 April 2010

Happy St George's Day!!!!

The patron saint of England is Saint George and he is celebrated each year on April 23rd. Famous from the legend of Saint George and the dragon in reality he was actually a Christian soldier, born to a noble family in Palestine. Being such a good soldier it did not take George long to rise through the ranks of the military and become an Imperial Guard, well known and respected amongst his peers. The Emperor of Palestine at that time however believed in Pagan Gods and although he had been close friends with George's family and of course George, in AD302 he was influenced by his advisers to rid the army of all Christian soldiers unless they agreed to convert by offering sacrifices to the Pagan Gods. George refused to convert and tried to compromise with the Emperor but the Emperor's mind was set - he offered George bribes of land and wealth to convert but George continued to support his Christian faith - and that too loudly in front of his fellow soldiers! Eventually the Emperor realised that although he did not want to, if he was going to enforce his ban of Christian soldiers he would have to make an example of George. This led to George being tortured and later beheaded, martyring himself for his faith.

The veneration of George spread east and west in the fourth century through the Roman Empire and in 494 he was given his sainthood by Pope Gelasius I after which Saint George became a well known and inspiring mark of faith, leading to his name being used as a battle cry and his symbol - the red cross being used on the English flag.

Today we celebrate Saint George's day in England by waving the national flag and wearing red roses in our lapels - it is known as a feast day so tradition is to gather, feast and rejoice! Traditional roasts are the main meal followed by trifle and the season's first strawberries in fresh cream... Yummy!

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