Feast Day: 23 April
Patronage: England, Ethiopia, Malta & Gozo
Although St George is the patron saint of England, he was not English.
George was born to a Christian family in Cappadocia around the year 280. After moving to Palestine, he joined the army of Diocletian. When the emperor issued the edict of persecution against Christians in 303, George gave all his belongings to the poor and, in front of Diocletian, tore the edict apart and professed his faith in Christ. For this he was tortured and eventually beheaded.
Shortly after his death, a basilica was erected over the his burial site in Lydda (in Israel). His relics are still visible there today.
Countless stories are told about St. George, including the famous legend of the dragon and the girl saved by the saint. According to legend, we are told that in the city of Selem in Libya, there was a large pond where a terrible dragon lived. To appease it, the inhabitants offered him two sheep a day and later a sheep and a child drawn by lot. One day the king’s daughter was chosen, and while she was heading toward the pond, George passed by and pierced the dragon with his spear; a gesture that became a symbol of faith triumphing over evil.
The Crusades popularised the story of St George & the Dragon, and so he was transformed from a martyr into a holy warrior, and became firmly rooted in English lore.