You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 22, 2010.

Happy St George’s Day!

The feast day of St George — patron saint of England and several other countries — is April 23, but how many English know that these days?  We used to, but not any more.  It’s considered politically incorrect to wave the English flag of St George — a red cross on a white background.

The Daily Mail reports:

Only one in ten would happily fly the cross of St George to celebrate the national saint’s day.

Double that number said they thought they would be told by authorities to remove it if they flew it from their house.

People have been told over the past decade to remove their flags from gardens or vehicles as they were public order offences!  About the only time it’s ‘okay’ to fly the flag is during football’s (soccer) World Cup.

The Mail elaborates:

Despite calls from public figures ranging from Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu to Gordon Brown for more celebrations of the English national day, there has been clear disapproval from many public authorities.

In 2008 St George’s Day parades were banned by local authorities in Bradford and Sandwell in the West Midlands on the grounds they could cause trouble or were ‘unhealthy’ and ‘tribal’.

Last year Mr Brown’s instruction that public buildings in England should fly the flag on 23 April were undermined by the production of a European map drawn up in Brussels that wiped England off altogether and replaced the country with a series of EU regions.

They should just tear a leaf out of this fearless saint’s notebook and do it anyway!  But public officials won’t because they are largely socialist and secularist. 

And on April 22, the Daily Mail reminded its readers of what Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wrote in the Guardian in 2002:

‘All nations have a cross to bear … But the British cross is more insidious still.

‘A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place.’

Winston Churchill’s grandson, Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, replied:

‘These views will disgust people the length and breadth of the country. They show that Nick Clegg is unfit to lead his party, let alone the country.

‘They are an insult to the memory of Britain’s war dead and to a time when the British public all pulled together for the common good. They prove that Mr Clegg shares the European view of Britain rather than the British view.’

He mocked claims last weekend that Mr Clegg is now as popular with the public as Churchill as ‘laughable’.

How does Clegg think he could have ever grown up in England in a privileged background if the Allies had not won the war?  If they had not, there would have been no freedom of movement.  How would his parents have even met? How would they have settled in England?  Sorry, there’s a disconnect here I don’t understand — a radical distaste and ingratitude for what he has received thanks to Allied — including British (including vast numbers of English) — intervention.  Let him be thankful for what he has received through their efforts, thanks to God’s grace and St George’s example! 

As far as St George’s Day activities go, there are some in London, although I’ve only seen them listed on the official tourist site. The Anglican Diocese of Norwich is asking those churches which have bells to ring them between 6:00 and 6:30 on the dayPreston (Lancashire) also had events planned.  Good for them!

Other than that, even moreso than last year, it’s a damp squib, and more’s the pity.  We should be considering the merits of our great saint’s life as we could use his example to be more heroic people, even in the simplest of ways.  The Royal Society of St George has a beautiful write-up, which I’ve excerpted below:

There are many legends in many cultures about St. George, but they all have a common theme; he must have been an outstanding character in his lifetime, for his reputation to have survived for almost 1,700 years!

Most authorities on the subject seem to agree that he was born in Cappadocia in what is now Turkey, in about the year 280 AD. It is probable that from his physical description, he was of Darian origin, because of his tall stature and fair hair. He enlisted into the Cavalry of the Roman Army at the age of 17, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and very quickly established a reputation amongst his peers, for his virtuous behaviour and physical strength; his military bearing, valour and handsome good looks.

He quickly achieved the rank of Millenary or Tribunus Militum, an officer’s rank roughly equivalent to a full Colonel, in charge of a regiment of 1,000 men and became a particular favourite of his Emperor.

Diocletian’s second in Command was Galerius, the conqueror of Persia and an avid supporter of the Pagan religion. As a result of a rumour that the Christians were plotting the death of Galerius, an edict was issued that all Christian Churches were to be destroyed and all scriptures to be burnt. Anyone admitting to being a Christian, would lose his rights as a citizen, if not his life

As a consequence, Diocletian took strict action against any alternative forms of religion in general and the Christian faith in particular. He achieved the reputation of being perhaps the cruellest persecutor of Christians at that time.

Many Christians feared to be loyal to their God; but, having become a convert to Christianity, St. George acted to limit the excesses of Diocletian’s actions against the Christians. He went to the city of Nicomedia where, upon entering, he tore down the notice of the Emperor’s edict. St. George gained great respect for his compassion towards Diocletian’s victims.

As news spread of his rebellion against the persecutions St. George realised that, as both Diocletian and Galerius were in the city, it would not be long before he was arrested.He prepared for the event by disposing of his property to the poor and he freed his slaves.

When he appeared before Diocletian, it is said that St. George bravely denounced him for his unnecessary cruelty and injustice and that he made an eloquent and courageous speech. He stirred the populace with his powerful and convincing rhetoric against the Imperial Decree to persecute Christians. Diocletian refused to acknowledge or accede to St. George’s reasoned, reproachful condemnation of his actions. The Emperor consigned St George to prison with instructions that he be tortured until he denied his faith in Christ. 

St George, having defended his faith was beheaded at Nicomedia near Lyddia in Palestine on the 23rd of April in the year 303 AD.

Stories of St. George’s courage soon spread and his reputation grew very quickly. He was known in Russia and the Ukraine as the Trophy Bearer. His remains are said to have been buried in the church that bears his name in Lydda. However, his head was carried to Rome, where it was preserved in the church that is also dedicated to him.

Britannia relates St George’s place in English history, excerpted below:

A lesser holiday in honour of St George, to be kept on 23 April, was declared by the Synod of Oxford in 1222; and St George had become acknowledged as Patron Saint of England by the end of the fourteenth century. In 1415, the year of Agincourt, Archbishop Chichele raised St George’s Day to a great feast and ordered it to be observed like Christmas Day. In 1778 the holiday reverted to a simple day of devotion for English Catholics.

The banner of St George, the red cross of a martyr on a white background, was adopted for the uniform of English soldiers possibly in the reign of Richard 1, and later became the flag of England and the White Ensign of the Royal Navy. In a seal of Lyme Regis dating from 1284 a ship is depicted bearing a flag with a cross on a plain background. During Edward 111’s campaigns in France in 1345-49, pennants bearing the red cross on a white background were ordered for the king’s ship and uniforms in the same style for the men at arms. When Richard 11 invaded Scotland in 1385, every man was ordered to wear ‘a signe (sic) of the arms of St George’, both before and behind, whilst death was threatened against any of the enemy’s soldiers ‘who do bear the same crosse or token of Saint George, even if they be prisoners’ …

Saint George is a leading character in one of the greatest poems in the English language, Spencer’s Faerie Queene (1590 and 1596). St George appears in Book 1 as the Redcrosse (sic) Knight of Holiness, protector of the Virgin. In this guise he may also be seen as the Anglican church upholding the monarchy of Elizabeth1:

But on his breast a bloody Cross he bore
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge we wore
And dead (as living) ever he adored.

So, to all those in England and other countries celebrating this great day, enjoy yourselves! 

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry, God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
  — Shakespeare, Henry V

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