St. George: Everything you need to know about the man and the myth

Crowds celebrate St George's day in Nottingham's Old Market Square
Crowds celebrate St George's day in Nottingham's Old Market Square Photo: Geoff Kirby/EMPICS Entertainment

The man:

  • 270 AD - St. George is born to Christian parents in Cappadocia (Eastern Turkey)
  • Moved to Palestine with his mother and became a Roman soldier, rising to the rank of Tribunus Militum (deputy legion commander - the second highest rank in the Roman Army)
  • Later resigns from his military post to protest against their pagan leader, Emperor Diocletian, who ordered the removal and persecution of all Christians from the army
  • Diocletian valued George highly as part of his army and attempted to convert him with offers of land and money if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods but George refused
  • George's refusal to give up his Christian beliefs led to his imprisonment and torture
  • April 303 AD - George was dragged through the streets of Nicomedia, Turkey, at the request of Diocletian and beheaded
  • George's actions inspired Diocletian's wife to become a Christian and she too was eventually executed

St. George and England:

  • St Abdomán of Scotland, makes the earliest reference to St. George in the seventh century by preaching his exploits
  • Crusaders who returned from fighting in Europe in the seventh century brought tales of St. George with them back to England
  • A church in Dorset records the story of St. George's 'miracle appearance in Jeruslam in 1099. It is said he led the Crusaders into battle. The story is etched into stone over a door of the church will still stands today.
  • English soldiers in the 14th century wear a sign of St. George on their chests and backs as he is considered a protector of the English
  • 1348 - King Edward III founds the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry in England, which is put under St. George's patronage
  • 1415 - St. George becomes the Patron Saint of England when Henry V wins the battle of Agincourt

The myth:

The legend of St. George and the dragon is more than 1000 years old.

According to the tale, the dragon made a nest by a fresh water spring in Silene in Libya.

People who lived there and needed water were forced to offer sheep as a distraction to the dragon.

The people eventually ran out of sheep and decided to sacrifice a woman to the dragon. After drawing lots, the princess of the town, Cleolinda, was decided to become the victim despite the protests of the Monarch.

It was then that St. George rode by on his white stallion. He is said to have dismounted, drawn his sword and and slayed the dragon.

Because of this the people of Silene abandoned their pagan beliefs and converted to Christianity.

You can find out more about St George on this website which is dedicated to St George's day.