Some of my urban warrior collective will be unaware, or may not care, that today is St George’s Day in England. He’s regarded as our patron saint. This is mildly odd, since his father was a Greek from Cappadocia, and George himself was actually born in Lydda in what is now Syria/Palestine.

He’s pretty well regarded among the saints in the Orthodox, Anglican, and Catholic churches, and even the Miaphysite, a religious group I’d never heard of till this morning. He’s the patron saint of an awful lot of countries, including Georgia. This is also a surprise, since the correct name for Georgia is Sakartvelo, but the name of Georgia is a back formation from the English George. I was aware of that, but not of the fact it may be a corruption of the word Gurj, the somewhat ferocious natives of the area.

So who else is in the illustrious band of countries who operate under George’s patronage? Starting from the top, we have Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Canada. Egypt, England, Ethiopia, and Germany get in on the act. I imagine that latter country’s involvement gave us some angst during WWI and WWII, but even I’m too young to remember that far back. India (maybe from the days of the raj?), Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta (again might be a remnant of English holding power there), Montenegro, Palestine (not such a surprise), Portugal, and Russia of all places. The backrow is formed by Spain, Syria (definitely no surprise there), and the US.

When he wasn’t being patronising, Georgie was quite a busy little bee. I’ll admit now I didn’t know all of this stuff. He was a highly rated soldier, rising to the rank of tribune in the army of Diocletian. Diocletian then had a bit of a funny turn, and ordered that all Christian officers be arrested, and all other officers make offerings to the Roman gods. George flat out refused, which was an embarrassment for Diocletian who both liked and respected his tribune, but he didn’t have much option, and he ordered George’s execution. George gave away all his wealth, was beheaded, and his remains were taken back to Lydda, where he rapidly became venerated as a martyr.

So now you know.

PS Nobody believes he slew dragons, and the origins of this piece of mythology are shrouded in the mists of time.

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