Celebrated on the 23rd of April every year, Saint George is the patron saint behind England's flag, the St. George's Cross. But what do we really know about him, and why do we celebrate him the way we do?

In England we celebrate Saint George on the anniversary of his death which is reported to have been on the 23rd of April 303, but what's really interesting is that George was neither born or buried in England. He was of Greek Cappadocian descent with a Palestinian mother, and served as a member of the Roman Emperor Diocletian's Praetorian Guard.

So where does the connection between Saint George and English culture lie? In Christianity, the dominant faith in England in past centuries, and the religion that Saint George was martyred for during the pre-Constantinian persecution of Christians.

There are two differing versions of George's death recorded, both pretty gruesome, but one thing is for sure, his bones are entombed in the Church of Saint George in Lod, Israel.

What George is most feted for however is the legend of how he once slew a dragon, a pretty superhuman feat by anyone's standards. Again, there are two versions to this tale, and we'll leave you to decide whether or not either of them are true.

According to the Archbishop of Genoa Jacobus da Varagine who wrote the Golden Legend in the 13th Century, this bothersome dragon had been plaguing the city of Silene in Libya with its insatiable appetite.

Out of sheep to feed to the monster, the townsfolk had to sacrifice citizens daily until George came to the rescue and saved the King's daughter from the beast!

The Saint George Monastery on the Island of Saint George

While we know and love our annual  celebration of Saint George's heroic feats and eventual death for his beliefs in England, which has transformed into a day of nationwide patriotism over the years... What we forget is just how far Saint George's influence as a Patron spread across the globe, belonging to many other countries as a symbol of Christian values too.

Churches and statues in honour of Saint George can be found the world over. He is the Patron Saint of all of the following places to name but a few:

  • Ethiopia
  • Georgia
  • Catalonia
  • Aragon
  • Gozo
  • Moscow
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Brazil

Saint George's Church, Kolomenskoye, Moscow