Facets of Faith for April 12, 2012

Each part of the British Isles is represented by a saint.

The most famous is St. Patrick in Ireland, followed by St. Andrew in Scotland.

Since 1222, England marks the day of St. George on April 23. In 1348, George was named patron saint of England; and in 1415, the day became a national holiday in England. George replaced St. Edward the Confessor, who had replaced St. Edmund as patron saint.

While the day is no longer a national holiday, the website stgeorgesday.com is sponsoring an effort to make it so.

The stories

As with many of the early saints, George’s story is surrounded by legends that may or may not be true. The most famous is of George subduing a dragon to save a princess. When the woman led the captured dragon into the town, George told the people to believe in Jesus and he would kill the dragon, which he did.

George lived in Turkey and Palestine in the Third Century and was a Roman soldier. He was born to Christian parents and was beheaded because he spoke against the persecution of Christians. Stories say he was tortured and miraculously healed many times before his execution.

His stories were similar to an Anglo-Saxon legend, so the English people were quick to honor him. The earliest reference to him in Britain is from the Seventh Century, and stories grew throughout the Crusades as miraculous appearances by the saint were recounted. But by the mid 1700s, he was no longer a popular figure.

Other ties

George is patron saint of many countries, including Lithuania and Germany.

George is patron saint of many groups, including different types of soldiers, farmers and more recently, Scouts.

George’s flag, white with a red cross on it, is used for England and is one of the symbols incorporated into the British flag, the Union Jack. It is also the flag of the Church of England.

The Mayflower and ships used by John Cabot, Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh all flew the St. George flag.

Upcoming religious dates

SATURDAY: Baisakhi is observed by Sikhs in honor of their founder Kahlsa.

SUNDAY: Easter is observed by Eastern Orthodox Christians.

THURSDAY: Yom HaShoah is a remembrance of the Holocaust by the Jews.

SATURDAY, APRIL 21: Ridvan starts. This 12-day festival is when the Baha’i mark Baha Allah’s public declaration to be the great messenger of God.

SOURCES: http://www.interfaithcalendar.org/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/saints/george_1.shtml, http://www.stgeorgesday.com/, Britain’s Holiest Places, Nick Mayhew Smith

Send ideas to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or email lenglish@theadvocate.com.

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