St George Paolo Uccello Musee Andre Jacquemart Paris

The painting above is by Paolo Uccello and can be viewed at the Musée André Jacquemart in Paris. You can read more about it and the legend it depicts here.

St George‘s Day is April 23, but you’d never know it in most parts of England.

Saturday came and went, as have other St George’s Days. This year it seemed as if only GB News and the Conservative Party remembered our patron saint.

On Friday, April 22, Patrick Christys had harsh words for self-loathing Englishmen. His is an excellent editorial. Not surprisingly, he got a lot of nasty comments:

Red Wall MP Brendan Clarke-Smith of Bassetlaw started Saturday with a happy greeting:

On Saturday afternoon, GB News’s Nana Akua said she is proud to be English. She also pointed out that Britons seem to know the date of all the UK’s patron saints’ feast days except for St George’s. How true. Hers was also an excellent editorial. Fortunately, she got a lot of compliments:

That evening, Neil ‘The Coast Guy’ Oliver, a Scot, discussed the overall malaise that the British have over their nationality:

Why this is I cannot figure out, but it’s been around for decades. I encountered it when I first moved here. It’s a pernicious disgrace that gets worse by the year.

Excerpts of Oliver’s editorial follow, emphases mine:

Personally, I’ve had more than enough of the message.

It is no accident that our past, our shared past, is being used as the stick with which to beat us. To seek to do as much is a well-worn tactic. If a people can be made ashamed of the figures from their past – those who, by their efforts and endeavours, brought us to where we are today – then the moral legitimacy of the present is undermined and then destroyed. It is in this way that those of us who take pride in Britain and Britishness are made to keep our heads down and to shut up.

Today is St George’s Day, of course. St George, patron saint of England, was from territory we know now as Turkey. He died in Palestine and is also the patron saint chosen by the people of Georgia, the Lithuanians, the Maltese, the Portuguese and the Venetians.

He was a Christian martyr but most clearly he stands for the necessity to face adversity in defence of the innocent and helpless. Symbols matter, and as a symbol, George is a good one. I like to see all of the patron saints remembered and celebrated – Andrew, Patrick and David too.

I am a Scot, but a British Scot. I have said this many times and I will keep on saying it. Because it is the whole of Britain that I love most dearly of all. It is all one place to me, united and made whole by a history that is deep beyond the reach of memory. Long before there was an England, or a Scotland, or a Wales there was a long island called Britain, or at least a name that sounded a lot like Britain.

Few places have histories longer than ours, histories as rich and complex. This has been a consequence of how much our predecessors achieved. Few nations even attempted to reach so far around the world. British history is long and convoluted on account of how much was accomplished. There is no denying the dynamism of Britain and the British. That those who went before us did so much to shape the modern world means our history is, inevitably, riven with good and with bad – with achievements and with mistakes. So much has been done in our name. And there has, let us not forget, long been a substantial and necessary body of opinion heartily and enthusiastically criticising our own past behaviour. This has been appropriate, but it is worth pointing out that we were rightly critical of ourselves long before the present campaign to tear the old place down in its entirety.

More by luck than good judgment, and mostly by means of the magic carpet provided by making television, I have seen a great deal of Britain. I have been around the coast many times. I have been back and forth across the interior. I have seen the landscape from the sky, from the cockpit of fighter jets, vintage biplanes and microlights. I have been on its encircling waters in kayaks, battleships and just about anything in between that floats, and under its waters in scuba gear and a nuclear submarine.

I have had a thorough look around. Long before the end I realised it was all one place, that the national borders drawn across it had no meaning for me and were invisible anyway.

I love this place. But I also believe in it

Those whose agenda it is to run down Britain want nothing less than that it might cease to exist in any recognisable form, so that it might be replaced with something utterly different. It’s worth noting that those those who demand a national apology from Britain, are not in the business of accepting apologies and moving on. To apologise to those who hate what Britain has been is only to offer our throats to the wolf.

As well as the place, I love the people of Britain. In my travels around the place, I have experienced nothing but welcome – in England, Ireland, Wales and at home in Scotland. The British people I love are those whose voices have been silenced and ignored of late – those who want only to go honestly about their business, paying their dues and trying to make something good of themselves and of the patch of the world in which they live. That Britain has fostered people like those – millions of them, silent witnesses all – is, on its own, the justification for the continued celebration of Britain.

Every day I meet people like that – unsung and, most recently, told that they are products of something innately bad, that they need to feel ashamed of themselves and of their sense of themselves.

The world plainly needs Britain – or at least the idea of Britain. Every day now, more and more people arrive on our shores – invited and uninvited. Britain is still a bright light in a darkening world and attracts those who can see a better life is available for the taking here. In fact, Britain is so strong at heart that she even weathers the incompetent leadership with which she is burdened from time to time.

In order to love someone, or someplace, completely, it is necessary to accept the good and the bad. I love this place – and in loving it I accept our history is shot through with dark as well as light. The time for crawling on our knees to those unforgiving individuals and organisations that seek only to punish, without any hope of redemption, is past.

Let’s lift up our chins and look the rest of the world straight in the eye, as is our right, and our hard won inheritance from the ancestors.

Well said!

About 20 years ago, there was an informal online campaign to get a new patron saint for England. Why? What is wrong with St George? These were left-leaning individuals politically. Ironically, they said that George wasn’t ‘English enough’. They took issue with his Turkishness. Most strange.

On Sunday morning, The Political Correction had on Dr Gavin Ashenden, who used to be one of the Queen’s chaplains. He has since become a Roman Catholic and is a layman.

He told presenter (and former politician) Arlene Foster that England’s original patron saint was St Edmund, king and martyr.

He was England’s patron saint until the 14th century and died defending the English people valiantly from the Vikings.

However, around the time that the Royal Family instituted the Order of the Garter, they were looking for another saint, for whatever reason.

St George was chosen, he said, for his chivalric virtues. Ashenden explained that the dragon is a symbol for evil. The devil is depicted as a dragon in Revelation. Therefore, through his brave, virtuous life of faith, George was slaying evil in a way. George died a martyr under Diocletian.

Ashenden said the fact that George was from Anatolia was immaterial. It was his bravery, character and faith that the English loved.

Ashenden said that people took Christianity very seriously in the Middle Ages. They loved God and they respected the law, which they considered was God-given through their rulers.

He added that one of the popes of that era reduced violence and war by decreeing that battle could take place only on days when no prominent saint’s day was celebrated. At the time, holy days comprised about 30 per cent of the year. What a great idea that was. We should devise something similar today.

You can see Dr Ashenden’s interview on his website. The first segment is about St George and is around four minutes long.

Incidentally, April 23 is also Shakespeare’s birthday.

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