23rd April is celebrated as St George’s day, the patron saint of England and famous for rescuing a fair damsel in distress from a venomous dragon. Have you ever wondered how England came to appoint George as patron saint? And why is he associated with dragons? Read on and all shall be revealed!
George in fact never set foot in England. He was a Christian soldier who was born in modern-day Turkey in the 3rd century CE and served under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. He was beheaded when he refused to give up his Christian faith; the Church set his feast day on the believed anniversary of his death, 23rd April 303.
The legend of George and the dragon first appeared much later. Crusaders returning from the Holy Land spread the romantic story of George protecting an innocent maiden from the dragon. This was taken up by the church to symbolise the triumph of the Christian Good over reptilian pagan Evil. The legend’s fame was assured when it was featured in The Golden Legend a collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de Voragine, a very popular text in the Middle Ages, first published around the year 1260. The story was also disseminated throughout England when George and the dragon became staple characters in the Mummers Plays performed by a troupe of touring actors.
St George has been selected to be the patron saint of many cities and countries; he is not the exclusive possession of England. It was in fact King Edward III who chose St George to represent England in 1327. The choice appears to have been influenced by the characteristics demonstrated by St George in fighting the dragon which the kingdom wished to project to the world. The highest order of knighthood in England, the order of the garter has as its banner the cross of St George and a badge depicting George on horseback slaying the dragon.
The martial values depicted in the legend were prized by English kings, who were embroiled in many battles at the time. Shakespeare includes a reference in his play Richard III
Our ancient word of courage, faire saint George
Inspire us with the spleene of fierie Dragons,
Upon them victorie sits on our helmes.
And who can forget the stirring St Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V:
Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
St George and his military skills may not appear to be so relevant to modern-day business owners, and our streets are not plagued with marauding dragons. However, there is one arena where computer users can feel as vulnerable as any damsel in distress in need of St George’s protection: computer viruses and malware! An unstopped Trojan can wreak as much havoc in your IT systems as a fire-breathing dragon. Prevention is so much better than the cure.
Let us be your St George, guarding you against hacker attack and virus infection.