Number one for English language teachers

Festivals: St George's Day (23rd April)

Type: Reference material

Very little is known about the man who became St George as many accounts of his reputation were written by his followers and became enhanced. It is now very difficult to extract historical facts from the myths.

George is believed to have been born in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), in the 3rd century and his parents were Christian. When George's father died, his mother took him to her native Palestine where he became a soldier in the Roman army. The emperor of the time, Diocletian started a campaign against Christians at the beginning of the 4th century. George disagreed with the persecution and resigned from his post. George destroyed the Emperor's order against Christians and was tortured and beheaded for not giving up his faith.

The most famous legend is where George slays the dragon although there are many versions of this tale. A pagan town was terrorised by a dragon and demanded two sheep every day to eat. When there were no more sheep, the villagers started to offer young women to it. The young princess was offered to the dragon and when George heard about this he rode into the village, slayed the dragon and rescued the princess.

In 1222 the Oxford Council named 23rd April as St George's Day and he was adopted by England as a patron saint around the 14th century. The English flag displays the cross of St George which is red on a white background.

George is not only the patron saint of England, but also of Georgia, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Malta and Palestine, amongst others, although he is celebrated on different days.

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