Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 23rd April 2024: George, Patron Saint of England

John 15 Saint George Saint

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 15

Saint George

‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


'St George was probably a soldier living in Palestine at the beginning of the fourth century. He was martyred at Lydda in about the year 304, the beginning of the Diocletian persecution, and became known throughout the East as 'The Great Martyr'. There were churches in England dedicated to St George before the Norman conquest. The story of his slaying the dragon is probably due to his being mistaken in iconography for St Michael, himself who is usually shown wearing armour; or it may again be a mistaken identity representing Perseus;s slaying of the sea monster, a myth also associated with the area of Lydda. George replaced Edward the Confessor as Patron Saint of England, following the Crusades, when returning soldiers brought back with them a renewed cult of St George. Edward III made St George patron of the Order of the Garter, which seems finally to have confirmed his position.' * From 'Exciting Holiness' Collects and Readings for Festivals.

My father-in-law, who was a little tough Welsh miner, always complained that he was born on the 23rd April, and it was a Good Friday but that it had never been on a Good Friday again. I'm not sure why it mattered to him, but it has meant that St George's Day and the 23rd April have stuck in my mind. However, when I looked it up he was actually born on Easter Sunday and it didn't occur again until the year 2000!

I send this to a lot of people round the world who have no connection to St George, but remembering him has made me think of how we humans need "mentors" - someone to set an example for us, and who will act as a beacon to follow. Many of our churches are dedicated to Saints (although a warning to those in the UK, if your church is old and dedicated to Mary, it likely had an older Saint's name before the Puritans arrived), as are schools, towns, and of course countries. What do you know about them, and what example can they give to you today?


* Collect for Saint George

God of hosts,
who so kindled the flame of love
in the heart of Your servant George
that he bore witness to the risen Lord
by his life and by his death:
give us the same faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in his triumphs
may come to share with him
the fullness of the resurrection;
through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to up this list of Saints. It helps to know where they originate (ie which country) and if they have more than one name. Also, remember that before the Reformation their name will appear in lists of catholic saints.

Neither list is perfect - I looked up Saint Mungo (also called Kentigern) from Scotland who name is also found in Cumbria (which was part of Scotland at the time) and often could not find him.

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