England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all have their own patron saints. Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over all areas of life and the Patron Saint of England is St George, celebrated on the 23rd April.
The flag of Saint George – a red cross on a white background – is England’s national flag and is incorporated into the Union Flag (the UK’s flag).
In the 14th Century, King Edward III was inspired by tales of King Arthur and his knights and created the Order of the Garter, in around 1348. The Order of the Garter was a special group of knights (and it still exists today!).
St George was made the patron of this Order and its badge depicts George slaying the dragon. St George remains an important symbol of knighthood in England.
Little is actually known about St George. He was born to Chrisitan parents in a place believed to be called Cappadocia and became a Roman soldier, but protested against how Rome treated Christian people badly, which resulted in him being put in prison and eventually executed.
Many people associate St George with the slaying of the dragon, a story that became popular in 1483 when it was printed in a book called ‘The Golden Legend’.
Legend has it that the people of the city of Silene in Libya, were feeding sheep to a dragon every day to stop it from attacking them, however they ran out of sheep and had to nominate people from the city to be sacrificed to the dragon.
The King of Silene tried to protect his daughter when she was selected, but the citizens of the city, who had to have sacrificed their loved ones, said so should the King. George happened upon the princess who told him what was happening to the city as she was waiting to be sacrificed. When the dragon turned up, George is said to have fought with the animal, capturing it and putting a collar around its neck.
When the princess led the defeated dragon into the city, it was George who told the frightened people not to worry and to put their faith in God. The town converted to Christianity and eventually the dragon was killed.
There are many ways you can include St George’s Day in your setting. Some of these include:
- Reading the story of St George
- Creating St George’s Shields
- Dressing up and play acting as St George and the dragon
- Creating dragon puppets out of socks