Patronages of Saint George
As a highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern Christian churches, Saint George is connected with a large number of patronages throughout the world, and his iconography can be found on the flags and coats of arms of a number of cities and countries.
- 1 Georgia
- 2 Armenia
- 3 Belgium
- 4 Brazil
- 5 Bulgaria
- 6 Canada
- 7 Egypt
- 8 England
- 9 Ethiopia
- 10 Germany
- 11 India
- 12 Italy
- 13 Lebanon
- 14 Lithuania
- 15 Malta
- 16 Montenegro
- 17 Palestine
- 18 Portugal
- 19 Russia
- 20 Serbia
- 21 Spain (Former Crown of Aragon)
- 22 Syria
- 23 United States
- 24 Organizations
- 25 Others
- 26 See also
- 27 References
Saint George is a patron saint of Georgia, and it is claimed by Georgian author Enriko Gabisashvili that Saint George is most venerated in that nation. An 18th-century Georgian geographer and historian Vakhushti Bagrationi wrote that there are 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia named after Saint George, according to the number of days in one year. There are indeed many churches in Georgia named after the Saint; Alaverdi Monastery is one of the largest.
Devotions to the saint in Georgia date back to the 4th century. While not technically named after the saint (Sakartvelo is the Georgian name for the country), its English name is an early and well-attested back-derivation of Saint George. The name is reputed to be an anglicisation of Gurj, derived from the Persian word for the frightening and heroic people in that territory, and hence assumed by early medieval chroniclers to translate as George, due to the existing patronage.
The Georgian Orthodox Church commemorates St. George's day twice a year, on May 6 (O.C. April 23) and November 23. The feast day in November was instituted by St Nino of Cappadocia, who was credited with bringing Christianity to the land of Georgia in the 4th century. She was from Cappadocia, like Saint George, and was said to be his relative. This feast day is unique to Georgia, and it is the day of St George's martyrdom.
There are also many folk traditions in Georgia that vary from Georgian Orthodox Church rules, because they portray the Saint differently from the Church, and show the veneration of Saint George by the common people of Georgia. Different regions of Georgia have different traditions, and in most folk tales Saint George is venerated very highly, almost as much as Jesus himself. In the province of Kakheti, there is an icon of St George known as White George. This image is also seen on the current Coat of Arms of Georgia. The region of Pshavi has icons known as the Cuppola St. George and Lashari St. George. The Khevsureti region has Kakhmati, Gudani, and Sanebi icons dedicated to the Saint. The Pshavs and Khevsurs during the Middle Ages used to refer to Saint George almost as much as praying to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another notable icon is known as the Lomisi Saint George, which can be found in the Mtiuleti and Khevi provinces of Georgia.
An example of a folk tale about St. George is given by author Enriko Gabidzashvili:
"Once the Lord Jesus Christ, the prophet Elias and Saint George were going through Georgia. When they became tired and hungry they stopped to dine. They saw a Georgian shepherd man and decided to ask him to feed them. First, Elias went up to the shepherd and asked him for a sheep. After the shepherd asked his identity Elias said that, he was the one who sent him rain to get him a good profit from farming. The shepherd became angry at him and told him that he was the one who also sent thunderstorms, which destroyed the farms of poor widows.
"After Elias, Jesus Christ himself went up to the shepherd and asked him for a sheep and told him that he was God, the creator of everything. The shepherd became angry at Jesus and told him that he is the one who takes the souls away of young men and grants long lives to many dishonest people.
"After Elias and Christ's unsuccessful attempts, St George went up to the shepherd, asked him for a sheep and told him that he is Saint George who the shepherd calls upon every time when he has troubles and [to protect him from all evil]... The shepherd fell down on his knees and adored him and gave him everything." The tale shows the degree to which St George was venerated in Georgia, and similar tales are told in parts of Georgia today.
Some interesting tales come from Georgian sources, some of which are also attested to by Persian ones, that the Georgian Army during many battles was led by a knight on a white horse who came down from Heaven, that's why Georgia won battles with 10 times smaller army. Catholicos Besarion of Georgia also testified of this.
გიორგი (giorgi), the Georgian variant of name George, is historically the most popular given name in Georgia.
In Mons (Belgium), Saint Georges is honoured each year on Trinity Sunday. In the heart of the city, a reconstitution (known as the “Combat dit Lumeçon”) of the fight between Saint Georges and the dragon is played by 46 actors. According to the tradition, the inhabitants of Mons try to get a piece of the dragon during the fight. This will bring luck for one year to the ones succeeding in this challenge. This event is part of the annual Ducasse festival and is attended by thousands of people.
As part of the Portuguese Empire, Brazil inherited the devotion to Saint George as patron saint of Portugal. In the religious traditions of the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda, Ogum (as this Yoruba divinity is known in the Portuguese language) is often identified with Saint George in many regions of the country, being widely celebrated by both religions' followers. Popular devotion to Saint George is very strong in Rio de Janeiro, where the saint vies in popularity with the city's official patron Saint Sebastian, both saints' feast days being local holidays.
St. George is praised by the Bulgarians as "liberator of captives, and defender of the poor, physician of the sick". For centuries he has been considered by the Bulgarians as their protector. Possibly the most celebrated name day in the country, St George's Day (Гергьовден, Gergyovden) is a public holiday that takes place on 6 May every year. A common ritual is to prepare and eat a whole lamb. St. George is the patron saint of farmers and shepherds.
St. George's Day is also the Day of the Bulgarian Army (made official with a decree of Knyaz Alexander of Bulgaria on 9 January 1880), and parades are organised in the capital Sofia to present the best of the army's equipment and manpower.
St George’s Day is a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador that is observed on the Monday closest to April 23 each year.
Traces of the cult of St George predate the Norman Conquest, in 9th-century liturgy used at Durham Cathedral, in a 10th-century Anglo-Saxon martyrology, and in dedications to Saint George at Fordington, Dorset, at Thetford, Southwark and Doncaster. He received further impetus when the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land in the 12th century. At the Battle of Antioch in 1098, St George, St Demetrius and St Maurice were said to have been seen riding alongside the crusaders, and depictions of this event can be seen in a number of churches. King Edward III (reigned 1327–77) was known for promoting the codes of knighthood and in 1348 founded the Order of the Garter. During his reign, George came to be recognised as the patron saint of the English monarchy; before this, Saint Edmund had been considered the patron saint of England, although his veneration had waned since the time of the Norman conquest, and his cult was partly eclipsed by that of Edward the Confessor. Edward dedicated the chapel at Windsor Castle to the soldier saint who represented the knightly values of chivalry which he so much admired, and the Garter ceremony takes place there every year. In the 16th century, Edmund Spenser included St. George (Redcross Knight) as a central figure in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. 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," and in Richard III, and King Lear.
|“||Advance our standards, set upon our foes Our ancient world of courage fair
St. George Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons...Richard III. act v, sc.3.
|“||Come not between the Dragon and his wrath...Shakespeare. King Lear. Act I, Sc 2||”|
A late 17th-century ballad also claims St. George as an English patron. The ballad compares other mythic and historical heroes with the merit of St. George and concludes that all are less important than St. George.
With the revival of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, there has been renewed interest within England in Saint George, whose memory had been in abeyance for many years. This is most evident in the St George's flags which now have replaced Union Flags in stadiums where English sports teams compete. Above the Palace of Westminster, there are six shields above each of the four clock faces of Big Ben, twenty-four in total, all depicting the arms of St George, representing the Flag of England, London as the capital city of England, and St. George as the patron saint of England. This symbolism is also repeated in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament, in an enormous mosaic created by Sir Edward John Poynter in 1869, depicting St George and the Dragon with these arms &c, entitled "St George for England".
St George's Day is also celebrated each year in London with a day of celebration run by the Greater London Authority and the London Mayor. The UK Houses of Parliament also celebrate St George's Day each year with a reception and other events, organised by the St. George's Day All Party Parliamentary Group, including providing every MP with a red rose to wear in his/her lapel.
The Order of St Michael and St George, a British order of chivalry, was founded in 1818, and partly named after the saint.
The cult of Saint George reached Ethiopia in the 15th century, when his story was translated into Amharic. He would eventually become patron saint of the nation. The exact origin of his cult spreading to Ethiopia is disputed; some believe it came from the Greek legend of Perseus, which may have originated in Ethiopia, and who, like Saint George, slew an evil creature to save a woman. Others believe it came from the Coptic Church in Egypt, which featured equestrian saints, which include Saint George.
Today there is an important church in Lalibela, one of the holiest cities in Ethiopia, dedicated to the saint, which attracts pilgrims. Addis Ababa's cathedral is also dedicated to the saint, and the city's main football club is also called Saint George F.C.. A local beer is named after the saint.
Abbot Hatto (888–913) of the Monastic Island of Reichenau had a St George's Church erected, after he had received relics from the hands of Pope Formosus. The later Archbishop of Mainz made a major contribution to spread the veneration of Saint George throughout East Francia. The Georgslied, a set of poems and hymns to Saint George in Old High German was composed on Reichenau island and the scholar Hermann of Reichenau wrote a Historia sancti Georgii in the mid-11th century, which today is lost.
About 1056 Archbishop Anno II of Cologne had the St George's Basilica erected, one of the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne. About 30 years later, former Vogts of Reichenau Abbey established the St. George's Abbey in the Black Forest. Saint George was also a patron saint of the Teutonic Knights, the State of the Teutonic Order and present-day Lithuania. Emperor Maximilian I (1493–1519), the "Last Knight", chose Saint George his personal tutelar.
Saint George is the patron saint of the German city of Freiburg im Breisgau. He also appears on the coats of arms of several German towns and cities, including Bamberg, Bürgel, Dießen am Ammersee, Eisenach, Mengeringhausen, Schwarzenburg, and, of course, Sankt Georgen im Schwarzwald.
One of the Main pilgrimages of St. George in Kerala is at Edappally (Ernakulam District), where the feast is celebrated on May 4. Edathwa also attracts thousands of pilgrims. Angamaly Basilica is named after St. George. In all Christian families in India, especially Kerala, the name George or Varghese is very popular.
There are numerous churches dedicated to Saint George in India, especially in Kerala, practicing Oriental Orthodoxy, and shrines to the saint. On the banks of the Kodoor River in the district of Kottayam in Kerala, the village of Puthupally is known for its 16th-century St. George Orthodox Syrian Church. The feast of this church, held on May 6 and May 7, is famous and attracts many pilgrims from all over Kerala. It is one of the largest pilgrim centers of Saint George in India, where they celebrate his feast on the first Saturday and Sunday in the month of May.
Social and Communal impacts: George is the most popular or common christian baptismal name in Kerala. George includes, of course, Varghese, Verghese, Geevarghese, Varu, Varuthunny, Varappan, Varachan, Kunjuvareed, Kunjivaru, …. It is funny that just because the Vatican took a somewhat negative view on St. George's history - although George is an Eastern Saint of high repute down the centuries- some Churches and persons are reluctant to give this most reputed and renowned name to their adherents or children!!! Please remember that there are so many Georges in Kerala not because it is the name of the Patron Saint of England. The other popular names in Kerala before the west arrived here were Kuriakose or Cyriac or Kurien, Kuriakku, Kuriappan, Kuriachan and perhaps Thomas - Thoma, Thomman, Thommy.
It might appear strange but is true that while the English patron saint's name is the most popular in Kerala, in England itself the most popular and most common baptismal or Christian name is that of the father of Kerala Christianity viz. Thomas. Of course we have all heard about the Thomas Cromwells, Thomas Beckets, Thomas Carlyles, the Thomas Mores…. All because King Alfred the Great of England, by the way the only English king designated "THE GREAT" was able to win his war only after he promised to St. Thomas that if he won the war he would send offerings to Peter in Rome and to Thomas in India. and this is well documented in the Anglosaxon Chronicles. After he won the war he probably encouraged devotion to this most helpful saint - Thomas, and today it is the most popular name in England.
Strangley the English phrase Every TOM, Dick, and Harry begins with the name of Thomas.
The popularity of "THOMAS" in England was verified by Author Prof. George Menachery in 1975 from the British Census Reports of Various years in the British Museum Library - now the British Library.
St. George is the patron saint of many old churches in Kerala. Here are some that readily come to mind: St.George's Forane Church, Edappally (AD 503 ); St. George's Church, Karingachira (722 AD); St.George Forane Church, Aruvithura (1st centaury ); St. George Church, Kadamattam (1st centaury ); St. George's Church (Valiyapalli), Kottayam (1550); St. George Church, Edathua (1810 ); St. George's Church, Angamally; St. George's Church, Kumbalangi; St.George Church, Puthuppally; St.George Church, Muthalakodam; St. George's Cathedral, Thozhiyur; St. George's Church, Chandanapally...
St. George became so popular in Kerala perhaps, according to Prof. George Menachery, because Kerala was infested with snakes and many including a large number of early Brahmin settlers fled the land for fear of snakes. The existence of ever so many Sarpa Kavus and Snake temples in Kerala speaks volumes for the early fear of snakes in Kerala. St. George was perhaps the antidote for snake trouble in Kerala for the Christians of the first millennium.
A Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint George in Puthiyathura, Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, is also a pilgrim centre with an annual St George's Day celebration. In Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari district, Nagercoil Town, Thalavaipuram—a famous church for St George and the people of the town—celebrates the feast of St George for ten days from the second Friday of May every year. There is also a Roman Catholic church in Aleppey, Edathua, visited by pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
In Italy, Saint George is one of the Patron Saints of Locorotondo, Genoa, Milan, as well as the patron saint of Ferrara and Reggio Calabria. Saint George is also the patron saint of San Giorgio La Molara, a small commune in southern Italy (20 km from Benevento). The historical bank that was the backbone of the Republic of Genoa, "Repubblica Marinara di Genova", was dedicated to St George, "Banco di San Giorgio". The power of the Repubblica passing from commerce to banking, Genoa lent money to all the European countries and sovereigns, so the power of the "Repubblica" was identified with its patron saint.
Throughout the province of Ferrara the cult of Saint George is remarkable for a medieval belief that the dragon Saint George defeated inhabited the Po. Actually the dragon has to be considered as a metaphor for the fear of Po river frequent floods that threatened to completely destroy Ferrara and the small hamlets next to it. The former cathedral and the newer 12th-century basilique cathedral of the city (Ferrara Cathedral) are both dedicated to the legendary Saint. Further notable churches named after the cappadocian saint are in the Province of Ragusa, in the southern part of Sicily, in the cities of Modica (whose patron is St. George) and in Ragusa. Both of them are in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
Saint George is the patron saint of Beirut, Lebanon. Many bays around Lebanon are named after Saint George, particularly the Saint George Bay in Beirut, which is believed to be the place where the dragon lived and where it was slain. In Lebanon, Saint George is believed to have cleaned off his spear at a massive rocky cave running into the hillside and overlooking the beautiful Jounieh Bay. Others argue it is at the Bay of Tabarja. The waters of both caves are believed to have miraculous powers for healing ailing children.
An ancient gilded icon of St. George at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut has been a major attraction for Greek Orthodox, Copts, Catholics, Maronites and some Muslims, for many centuries. Many churches are named in honor of the saint in Lebanon.
In Lithuania, Saint George is the second most important patron saint, after Saint Casimir. His cult spread throughout Lithuania in the 15th century as a compromise to the former rituals to the pagan spring god Pergrubis, owing to the fact that his feast day in mainly Roman Catholic Lithuania, as in the rest of the Western Church, falls on April 23. For most of Lithuania's modern history, the day was celebrated by farmers with offerings of animals in churches and the baking of special bread.
Saint George is also one of the patron saints of the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. In a battle between the Maltese and the Moors in 1429, Saint George was alleged to have been seen with Saint Paul and Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese. Two parishes are dedicated to Saint George in Malta and Gozo, the Parish of Qormi, Malta and the Parish of Victoria, Gozo. Besides being the patron of Victoria where a St. George's Basilica, Malta is dedicated to him, St George is the protector of the island Gozo.
The cult of Saint George is widespread in Montenegro, where he is one of the country's patron saints. As in Serbia, his day, known in the local language as Đurđevdan (Serbian: Ђурђевдан – George's day), is an important religious holiday. It is held on April 23 in the Julian calendar, corresponding to May 6 in the Gregorian calendar. One of Montenegro's islands is called Sveti Đorđe (Serbian Cyrillic: Свети Ђорђе), where there is a monastery devoted to the saint.
The Feast of Saint George is celebrated by both the Palestinian Christians, whose patron saint is George, and many Muslims, especially in the areas around Bethlehem where he is believed to have lived in his childhood. Christian houses can be identified with a stone-engraved picture of the saint (known as Mar Jirjes) in front of their homes for his protection. In one hotel in Bethlehem, Saint George appears over the lift, as well as many other places throughout the structure.
In the town of Beit Jala, just west of Bethlehem, stands a statue of Saint George carved of stone depicting the saint on his horse while fighting the dragon. The statue stands in the town's main square.
There is also a mid-sized town just west of Bethlehem named al-Khader in his honour. The town contains a 16th-century monastery known as the Monastery of Saint George. In the Wadi Qelt near Jericho stands the St. George's Monastery.
In what was known as the Roman Palestine town of Lydda now Lod in Israel, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George is the burial place of the saint; any Saint George's Day there is a big annual for him in the church with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, local Arab Christians from Israel and other people around the world.
Apparently, the English crusaders who helped King Afonso Henriques (1109–85) in the conquest of Lisbon in 1147 introduced a devotion to Saint George to Portugal. Nevertheless, it was not until the time of King Afonso IV (1291–1357) that the use of São Jorge!! (Saint George) as a battle cry, substituted for the former Sant'Iago!! (Saint James). Nuno Álvares Pereira (1360–1431), Saint Constable of Portugal, considered Saint George the leader of the Portuguese victory in the battle of Aljubarrota. King John I (1357–1433) was also a devotee of the saint and was in his reign that Saint George replaced Saint James as the main patron saint of Portugal. In 1387, he ordered that its image on horse be carried in the Corpus Christi procession.
In Russia, the cult of Saint George arrived in the 11th century during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise (1010–19). The earliest icon of Saint George is at Staraya Ladoga, in a church dedicated to him, dating from the 12th century. The cult, as in Lithuania, displaced that of a pagan deity, the sun god Dazhbog, which involved shepherds bringing their flocks to pastures. Saint George was Yaroslav's patron saint, and also that of his descendant Yuri Dolgorukiy (reigned 1149–51 and 1155–57), who founded what was to become the Russian capital city, Moscow, in 1156 (Yuri is Russian for George).
The city's coat of arms originally displayed a mounted soldier slaying a dragon. However, it was not until 1730 that Saint George was officially adopted as Moscow's patron saint, and the mounted soldier would be interpreted as Saint George. There are several statues of Saint George and the dragon in Moscow, all of which are recent, owing to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church forbade sculptural representations of saints, and the Soviets discouraged religious emblems.
The arms of Moscow also appears on the coat of arms of Russia, as a small shield on the breast of the double-headed eagle. Two of Russia's highest decorations are called the Cross of St. George and the Order of St. George.
"Đurđevdan" (Serbian: Ђурђевдан – George's day) is a Serbian religious holiday, celebrated on April 23 by the Julian calendar (May 6 by Gregorian calendar), which is the feast of Saint George and a very important Slava. He is one of the most important Christian saints in Orthodox churches. This holiday is attached to the tradition of celebrating the beginning of spring. Christian synaxaria hold that St George was a martyr who died for his faith. On icons, he is usually depicted as a man riding a horse and killing a dragon. Đurđevdan is celebrated all over the Serbian diaspora but mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Serbian language St. George is called Sveti Đorđe (Serbian Cyrillic: Свети Ђорђе).
Spain (Former Crown of Aragon)
In Spain, Saint George also came to be considered as the patron saint of the medieval Crown of Aragon, the territory of four current autonomous communities of Spain: Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Nowadays Saint George is the saint patron of both Aragon and Catalonia, as well as the saint patron of historically important Spanish towns such as Cáceres or Alcoi (Spanish language: San Jorge, Catalan language: Sant Jordi, Aragonese language: San Chorche).
His feast date, April 23, is one of the most important holidays in Catalonia, where it is traditional to give a present to the loved one; red roses for women and books for men. In Aragon it is a public holiday, celebrated as the 'National Day of Aragon'. It is also a public holiday in Castile and Leon, where the day commemorates the defeat at the Revolt of the Comuneros.
Saint George is among the most celebrated saints in Syria, especially among the Antiochian churches. The historical Saint George's Monastery in Meshtaye village near the city of Homs is a Greek Orthodox religious complex dating back to the 5th century. It consists of three leveled churches from the 5th, 13th and the 19th centuries respectively. The oldest one is entirely built in Byzantine style. The monastery is one of the most busiest destinations for local and foreign pilgrims, mainly at the feast of Saint George and the feast of the elevation of the Holy Cross (September 14).
St George is the patron saint of the Boy Scouts of America. As with many other NATO countries, St. George is the patron saint of the U.S. Army's Armor Branch. The United States Armor Association awards the Saint George Award to tankers and cavalry troopers in a knighting ceremony.
St George's Day is also celebrated with parades in those countries of which he is the patron saint. Also, St George is the patron saint of Scouting.  On St George's day (or the closest Sunday), Scouts in some countries choose to take part in a parade and some kind of church service in which they renew their Scout Promise. In the United States, both the Episcopal Church and the Catholic Church (in both the Roman Rite and in Eastern Rites) offer a Saint George Award to adults; the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association holds St. George's Scout as their highest youth award; Orthodox Churches offer a Saint George Award to Cub Scouts.
He is also the patron saint of skin disease sufferers and syphilitic people. Romani people in Eastern Europe consider him to be their patron saint. They celebrate his day, called Ederlezi, on the night of 5 to 6 May.
- St George's Church (disambiguation)
- Saint George paintings gallery
- Saint George: Devotions, traditions and prayers
- Saint George at Patron Saints Index
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