Happy St George's Day! Are you celebrating?
If like myself, your knowledge of our patron saint is a bit limited, you might find this blog of interest.
A couple of days ago, my youngest asked me about St George's Day (I think she was hoping it might mean presents!) And so, quite ashamed of my lack of knowledge about our Patron Saint, I thought I'd better do some reading up on the subject to refresh my long lost school-learnt knowledge.
Its actually been a fascinating rediscovery. For example, I hadn't realised that he wasn't even English, having been born in Turkey in the third century. His parents were Christians and, on becoming a Roman soldier at the tender age of 17, good old George soon built himself up a reputation for acts of valour.
When the pagan Emperor Diocletian began persecuting Christians however George, a faithful Christian himself, protested and was imprisoned and tortured for his trouble. Refusing to deny his faith despite the torture, George was eventually beheaded in Palestine on 23rd April 303.
After visiting his shrine whilst on Crusade, Richard the Lionheart declared St George to be his protector and it is said that a vision of the Saint inspired his men to victory. The famous legend of St George and the Dragon is also said to have been brought back to England by the Crusaders.
There are many different versions of this story - but most have the following in common;
1) A town is terrorised by a dragon;
2) A young princess is offered to the dragon;
3) George hears about this, isn't best pleased and rides to her rescue;
4)George fights and slays the dragon, rescuing the princess and becoming an absolute legend.
In 1222 the council of Oxford declared 23rd April to be St George's Day and in the 14th century he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England's Patron Saint.
St George is a busy Saint - in addition to England he has responsibility for Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as 13 cities around the world. On top of that, he's patron saint of archers, farmers and field workers, scouts, soldiers, cavalary and chivalry, riders and saddlers and he helps people suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis!
Whilst researching the story of our Patron Saint, it did occur to me that, as a newborn photographer I have not photographed many little 'Georges' lately and I wondered if the name had dropped in popularity, despite the birth of our gorgeous Prince George on 22nd July 2013.
I did a bit of research at babycentre.co.uk and sure enough, the name has dropped down their most popular boys names rankings, falling from position 6 in their 2012 list, to position 18 in 2014.
Well, I feel in need of a coffee, but I am now properly clued up about the Patron Saint of England and will be able to impress my daughter when she gets home from school.....despite there being no presents involved!
Thanks for reading!