England St George flag blowing in the wind on a fine day. With a robin red breast sat on flagpole!

England St George flag blowing in the wind on a fine day. With a robin red breast sat on flagpole!Getty: Images

St. George's Day is upon us!

St. George's Day is celebrated on the 23rd of April in the United Kingdom every year. 

This Christian holiday is not reserved for just England. Both Spain and Portugal also recognize the day, although their celebrations don't rival those of England.

So, just how did St. George, who never even visited England, become the patron saint of the country?

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The history of St. George

The early days in the life of St. George are still somewhat unclear. It is believed that he lived between Turkey and Syria, and following the death of his father he decided to join the Roman Army.

At the time, members of the Roman Army were expected by the Emperor to make sacrifices to Pagan gods.

Upon joining the army, St. George was persecuted for his Christian beliefs, and would go on to be tortured for seven years, all while refuing to give up his faith. For this, he was eventually killed.

In 303 Ad, George was beheaded. In 494 AD, he was made a saint by Pope Gelasius 1.

Saint George And Horse Sculpture Against Clear Sky

Saint George And Horse Sculpture Against Clear Sky

Why England?

All of this begs the question, just why was St. George made the patron saint of England?

St. George commanded the respect of all the men he fought with. He was admired for his bravery, and resilience when it came to honoring his beliefs.

It was traits such as these that caused King Edward III to decide to choose St. George as England's Patron Saint. 

Due to the fact that St. George was not actually English, it meant he had no ties to one specific region in the country, meaning he was an easy figure for everyone to united behind.

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Did he slay a dragon?

When discussing St. George, the story that is most commonly brought up is that of him slaying a dragon.

The tale goes that St. George was visiting a town in Libya that was being terrorized by a dragon that would only allow the villagers to fetch water if they provided it with a human sacrifice.

George arrived at the village to discover that the King's daughter had been chosen as the dragon's food for the day.

He lept to her defence, and slayed the dragon, freeing the villagers from it's tyranny. 

The villagers, eternally grateful to George, all converted to Christianity, and a legend was born.

Happy St. George's Day!