By George, let's celebrate

TODAY'S the day to wear your national pride on your sleeve. April 23 is English to the core and today The Evening Star is urging you to stand up for England and St George and all he stands for - valour, courage and honour.

TODAY'S the day to wear your national pride on your sleeve.

April 23 is English to the core and today The Evening Star is urging you to stand up for England and St George and all he stands for - valour, courage and honour.

But as we put out the flags and celebrate our patron saint few realise the story of St George is far from English.

It all began centuries ago in modern day Turkey.

Once upon a time in a far away land, there was a young soldier who guarded a great Emperor.

The soldier, a Christian, was ordered to persecute Christians across the empire but because of his faith, he refused and was tortured on a wheel of swords.

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On April 23, 303AD his head was cut off. His name was George and he was a martyr.

And for 1,700 years people have celebrated and venerated St George.

In the 15th century, St George's Day was once a major feast in England on a par with Christmas. Today St George's Day is still a great excuse to rejoice, make merry and be thankful to be English.

He is immortalised in the tale of George and the Dragon and in the story, a dragon makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the kingdom.

While news of St George probably first reached England when the crusaders returned from the Holy Land in the 12th Century it was Edward III who first promoted the cult of the saint.

The King was known for promoting the codes of knighthood and in 1348 founded the Order of the Garter and during his reign, George came to be recognised as the patron saint of England. Edward dedicated the chapel at Windsor Castle to the soldier saint who represented the knightly values of chivalry.

And the great English bard William Shakespeare firmly placed St George within the national conscience in his play Henry V in which the English troops are rallied with the cry “God for Harry, England and St George.”

What does St George mean to you? Are you marking the occasion? Is he the right patron saint for England? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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