Here at the English Standard every day is a day for England, but St George’s Day is still special for us. We invited our contributors to submit their own short perspectives on what St George’s Day means to them. Our thanks to them. Best wishes to you and yours from the folks at the English Standard. However you’re celebrating have a great St George’s Day.
Message for St George’s Day
Although there are many things I could write about the current situation in England today, I thought that I would say something celebratory and positive to mark our national day.
We are standing on the cusp of a new dawn in England. At last, the English people are beginning to awake from their slumber. The injustices we have suffered have helped us to rediscover our own sense of English pride and patriotism. Increasing numbers of English men and women are starting to ask exactly why we need the United Kingdom and why English identity has been buried for so long. This St George’s Day we can all look forward to another festival that we shall surely celebrate in days ahead: English Independence Day. Let’s work together towards this great day and speed its coming.
We have much to celebrate on this day. We are a great nation with a long, illustrious history and a bright future waiting to be forged. In every field of human endeavour we have punched far above our weight in our contributions to civilization. From our beautiful language, to the sports we created, to our feats in engineering, the arts, politics and science, the English have in so many ways been a force for good in the world. We do not say this to boast or because we consider ourselves superior to others, but because we wish our children to grow up with a sense of healthy pride and destiny, to take Englishness forward into the 21st century with renewed vigour.
In this rapidly changing world it is good and right that we take steps to preserve national and cultural identities, so that we do not forget who we are. A nation stripped of its culture and devoid of pride in its past is a poorer place for all its inhabitants. We need a national revival and cultural awakening in England that will help future generations to see themselves as part of a great nation of which they can be proud. It is time to rediscover common sense, family values, dignity, self respect and high moral standards. England will be saved by patriotic people, well-educated, intelligent and dignified people who love their own nation but also respect the other peoples of the world and enjoy good relations with the nations of the former UK and Europe.
The future of England is in our own hands. We still have many battles to face, but there is much to celebrate and much to hope for. The greatest battle lies in winning the hearts and minds of others to our cause. We must be bold, but respectful. We must be determined but also wise. We owe it to our children to ensure that England awakens, that she will go from strength to strength and will be a beacon in this uncertain world.
May I wish you a very happy St George’s Day!
England’s Battling Saint
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont (who blogs at Ana the Imp)
Traces of the cult of Saint George can be dated right back to Anglo-Saxon times. He appears as early as the ninth century in rituals at Durham, and in a tenth century martyrology. There is evidence, moreover, of pre-Conquest foundations dedicated to St. George: at Fordingham in Dorset, at Thetford, Southwark and Doncaster. So he was already familiar to the English well before the Crusades, though it is not until the reign of Edward III that he emerges as the most important national saint, replacing Edward the Confessor. It is probably more accurate to say that the cult was identified specifically with the monarchy rather than Englandas a whole. Edward I was the first king to display St. George’sbanner alongside those of Edmund the Martyr and St. Edward.
By the reign of Edward III he had definitely emerged as a ‘god of battles’, in much the same fashion as Santiago Matamoros – Saint James the Moor Slayer – in Spain. In 1351 it was written “The English nation…call upon Saint George, as being their special patron, especially in war.”
In this regard he was certainly more appealing than the unwarlike Confessor or St. Edmund, who had been defeated and subsequently killed by the Danes. But with the succession of Richard II George once again slipped down the ranks. Richard had little of his grandfather’s warlike ambitions, and returned to the veneration of the two native saints.
George was called back to national prominence during the Wars of the Roses, when his name was invoked by both sides in the contest. It was also at this time that his cult spread across the nation at large. Almost a hundred wall paintings featuring the saint date from the fifteenth century, most showing him in combat with the dragon. He also survives in pilgrim badges. His secular importance was finally confirmed by the English Reformation; for he alone survived the suppression of the cult of saints, which not even the Virgin herself had been able to do.
Saint George: Patron of Englishmen Slain in Foreign Fields
Who is or was Saint George? He was probably a Roman soldier born in Palestine, who was executed in part of modern Turkey in 303 AD by the Emperor Diocletian because he would not renounce his Christian faith and make sacrifices to the pagan gods of Rome.
We are told alternately, sometimes by the same people, that his foreign origins make Saint George a particularly unsuitable or suitable patron saint for England. However, geographical and historical backgrounds are an unreliable guide in such matters. After all, as Christians, we actually worship a Jew who was born in Palestine under Roman occupation. In fact, people who object to Saint George and his Cross are often really objecting to the whole notion of England as a Christian nation, or indeed as any kind of nation at all.
Patron saints are chosen for a reason, which I like to think illustrates the Christian concept of Providence: things that appear to happen contingently – as a historical ‘accident’ – are also in fact given to us by God as something that shows us his presence in our individual and collective lives, and which teach us humility.
So it is with Saint George, who is also, by virtue of his military origins, the patron saint of soldiers. How fitting it is, in fact, that England’s saint should be a soldier slaughtered far from home, sacrificed to the whim of a powerful imperial ruler! How many countless thousands, indeed millions, of English men, and women, have been similarly sacrificed in first England’s, then Britain’s, foreign escapades?
Have we learnt nothing in all this time? Here we are still, two millennia after Christ, sending our English youth to do battle and die not far from Christ’s and Saint George’s homeland – in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan – chasing across the deserts in pursuit of the same mirage of imperial might and righteousness. Of course, the ‘cause’ at whose altar our brave lads are being sacrificed has changed since Christ’s and George’s executions. Then it was pagan, imperial Rome. In the Crusades, it was imperious Roman Christendom. Today, it is, one hopes, the last flicker of British imperialism, and our self-appointed right to depose foreign rulers that stand in the way of our Liberty and our wealth.
And as always, it’s the ordinary boys and girls of England – and of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – that pay the price for the slaughter inflicted under the banner of the Butcher’s Apron. Perhaps it’s time to stop fighting foreign wars under our grand pretensions of global power. I for one would rather live in a Little England, under the flag of Saint George, than a self-deluded, imperial Britain under the butcher’s ensign.
But meanwhile, especially on this 23 April, we should pray for Christ’s, and indeed Saint George’s, protection for our English soldiers in Afghanistan. Pray that they may return safely home to their family and loved-ones. Pray for an end to Britain’s wars. And pray that there won’t be any further corners of foreign fields that will be for ever England.
Last but not least Mark Higginson has written this poem:
Let not this be the last battle
On St. George’s Day who will celebrate England,
Who will strive to promote this great fair land?
Will we dance and sing in loud voices and charge in competition,
Will we fly the flag so nobly, clasped hard in our hands?
Not all English people will celebrate this joyous occasion,
Many will be glad to see them not perform such a task.
Many who are English will not care to do so,
For that great malady that is apathy holds many in it’s grasp.
The fight is on for the hearts and minds of our great people,
To unite them against the enemy within.
Of all the battles to save England, this must be the one to succeed,
For this battle cannot be lost, if England is to win.
Let not this be the last battle, while truth, justice, and freedom,
Are rested from England’s children.
Only in the cold light of victory and restoration,
Can England be at peace and free.