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Saint George’s Day

Saint George’s Day is celebrated in England on April 23rd, reputed to be the day of George’s death in AD 303. Very little is known about the real St. George. He is thought to have been born into a noble Christian family in the late third century in what is now modern-day Turkey. George was a soldier, like his father before him, becoming part of the retinue of the Emperor Diocletian. The emperor ordered the systematic persecution of Christians in which George refused to take part. He was himself tortured and executed in Palestine, becoming an early Christian martyr.

The legend of George as a chivalric knight slaying a dragon and rescuing an innocent maiden is medieval, brought back to England by the Crusaders. The story popularised George as brave, gallant and heroic and he officially became a patron saint of England after King Edward III established the Order of the Garter in his name in 1348.

St. George is also an international saint, celebrated in many countries including Ethiopia, Malta, Portugal and Serbia.

The King Edward’s School magazine, April 1857, gives us a glimpse of a Victorian schoolboy’s understanding of Saint George:

The King Edward’s School magazine, April 1857