Monument to St George and the Dragon at sunset, Moscow, Russia
© Protasov AN/Shutterstoc
Happy St George's Day. George the dragon slayer
England’s dragon-slaying patron saint is thought to have been born 2,000 miles away in Cappadocia, Turkey and is said to have died on 23 April 303 AD – executed after the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered the persecution of Christians. That date has been celebrated as St George’s Day in England for hundreds of years, particularly in the years since the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, when it became an important feast date. However, if it falls too close to Easter, as it did in 2019, it is delayed until the following week under Church of England rules – so it can be, quite literally, a moveable feast.
St George himself is likely to have never set foot in England and is also a much celebrated saint around the world – including in Moscow, Russia, where our homepage image was photographed. The dragon story was also a much later addition to his tale – popularised in the late 13th Century by The Golden Legend, a compilation of the lives of saints by Jacobus de Voragine. It may have been a slight embellishment but no-one’s going to let the facts get in the way of a good heroes v monsters story.