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This Tuesday of Easter Week is St George’s Day — April 23, 2019.

It is time the English reclaimed their patron saint’s feast day. Other countries are proud to celebrate this special day. How wonderful, therefore, to see a trend for St George’s Day on Twitter, which includes these delightful tweets:

On a contemplative note, the following are by two Catholics from the Archdiocese of Southwark in London:

Returning to Easter, conservative commentator Chuck Woolery’s witness for the faith gives pause for thought, as does the video in the first reply he received:

I also liked this reply to America’s First Lady’s Easter greetings (click on image link to see it in full):

On Easter Sunday, the Trumps attended a morning service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach. The Daily Caller has photos, especially of First Lady Melania Trump.

While the Trumps posed for photo ops outside the church, back in Washington, things went less well for Robert Mueller, who was accosted by a reporter outside of St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC after worship.

I’m hardly a Mueller fan, but this is just plain wrong:

On Easter Monday, the Trumps hosted the traditional Easter Egg Roll at the White House:

This video shows the First Couple returning to the White House from Palm Beach on Sunday. The Easter Egg Roll event begins at 12:50:

Mrs Trump read to the children (fashion notes here) …

… as did Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, mother of four:

As ever, the day was packed with activities. On April 19, the White House announced:

First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald J. Trump invite this year’s Easter Egg Roll attendees to enjoy a variety of activities, including the time-honored Egg Roll and the Trump Administration’s Cards for Troops station. New to the Egg Roll this year: musical eggs and Be Best hopscotch. In recognition of the First Lady’s Be Best campaign, children will also have the opportunity to spread kindness by mailing postcards to anyone they choose – friends, family, members of the military – directly through a United States Postal Service mailbox that will be on the South grounds.

Over 30,000 attendees are expected to walk the historic south grounds of the White House, experiencing all the tradition and fun that comes with the White House Easter Egg Roll.

There were also egg hunts, egg and cookie decorating stations, the military bands, tennis court activities, and a chance for the children to meet costumed characters, such as the Easter Bunny:

Reading stations have been a big part of the Trump Easter Egg Rolls, with members of the president’s advisory team as well as the Cabinet. Imagine hearing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. or Surgeon General Jerome Adams reading a book to a group of children. If past readers of previous years are anything to go by, they no doubt did exceptionally well.

Mrs Trump was delighted with the event and her many guests:

I am so pleased this went well and without incident.

Tomorrow’s post concerns a very sad subject: the attacks on Sri Lankan churches at Easter.

St George Paolo Uccello Musee Andre Jacquemart ParisIt’s April 23, the feast day of St George, patron saint of England and several other countries.

George was a soldier and martyr. Several legends about his valour soon circulated after his death.

We continue to connect him with slaying the dragon, as depicted in Paolo Uccello’s painting above. This is said to have taken place in a town in Libya called Silene where a dragon terrorised the townspeople. They tried to placate the beast by feeding it animals. When they ran out, they began giving him human beings. The princess Cleolinda, daughter of their king, was about to be sacrificed in desperation. At that point, George rode up on his white charger, dismounted and fought the dragon on foot. When he had subdued the beast, he dragged it through Silene and slayed it in front of the townspeople. Cleolinda’s father offered George a bag of gold for his efforts, but the valiant soldier asked that the money be given to the poor instead.

The Royal Society of St George explains (emphases mine):

The story is a powerful allegory, emblematic of the triumph of good over evil; but it also teaches of enduring Christian faith in the extreme and the trust that at all times should be placed in the Almighty by the invocation of the name of St. George, Soldier, Saint and Martyr.

George was born around 280 AD in Cappadocia, in present day Turkey. He became a cavalryman in the Roman army at the age of 17 during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. He quickly earned a reputation for his remarkable virtue, military bearing, physical strength and good looks.

He was promoted to the rank of Millenary or Tribunus Militum, the equivalent rank of a colonel today. He commanded 1,000 soldiers and was a favourite of Diocletian.

Although we do not know at what point George became a Christian, he practised his faith at a time when most Christians in the Roman Empire hid in fear. Persecution was rife. Diocletian’s second-in-command Galerius decreed that Persia, which he had recently conquered, would be subject to the pagan religion and all Christian places of worship destroyed. Any scripture would also be burnt. Furthermore, Christians would lose their rights as citizens and perhaps their lives.

When George saw an edict to this effect as he entered the city of Nicodemia, he immediately tore it down. The local Christians were relieved to have such a staunch defender of the faith on their side. He, in turn, was compassionate towards them.

As both Diocletian and Galerius were in the city at the time, George knew that he would soon be tried. In preparation, he sold his worldly possessions and freed his personal slaves. The Royal Society of St George tells us:

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.

George’s head was taken to Rome where it rests in a church which was named after him.

It is no wonder that the exploits and faith of George circulated around Europe.

Today, community celebrations are taking place around England. Lytham St Annes has four days of events, Southampton has scheduled a St George’s celebration, Nottingham has a parade, and the West Somerset Railway a special fish and chips lunch. In London, the Coldstream Guards are giving a St George’s Day concert, Trafalgar Square has live music with food stalls and St George’s Hanover Square will feature a concert with the Royal British Legion’s Central Band.

May St George serve as an example to us all. As the Britannia site explains:

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 Elizabeth I:

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.

st_george 16th century greeceorgAlthough St George’s Day is on April 23, celebrations in England in 2014 may well take place on Easter Monday, April 21.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is a big supporter of St George’s Day. Events in the capital on Monday will centre on Trafalgar Square with food, music and fun all ages. The London.gov.uk page states in part:

Organised by the Mayor of London, the Feast of St George is inspired by St George’s Day’s 13th century origins as a national day of feasting …

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson says: “Our Feast of St George is set to be a day of revelry and merriment for all the family, with delicious food and a whole host of activities for all ages. London is one of the foodie capitals of the world and this banquet is the perfect showcase for some of our superb English fare. Happy St George’s Day.”

English beer aficionados can enjoy a tasting at The Phoenix pub in Clapham. Reservations required.

Classical music lovers might enjoy ‘A Gala for St George’, which actor Brian Blessed will present. This will be held on Sunday, April 27 at the Royal Albert Hall at 3 p.m.

The Telegraph lists these events as well as a few others around the country. Wherever you are in England either Bank Holiday Monday or the following weekend, you are likely to find a St George’s Day event near you.

Thanks to English Heritage, those readers who are near Bolsover Castle can enjoy dragon fighting displays while Chesters Roman Fort and Museum‘s events this year highlight Roman horsemanship and fort life, both of which our patron saint would have personally experienced. Please note that these two celebrations take place on April 26 and 27.  Both sound splendid, especially for children!

For more information on this famous patron saint, claimed by several countries, please see my past posts from 2010 and 2011.

Whenever you celebrate it this week, have a very happy St George’s Day! May we share his strong faith and emulate his valiant courage.

St George Paolo Uccello Musee Andre Jacquemart ParisTuesday, April 23, 2013 is St George’s Day, celebrated in several European countries and, lest we forget, England.

This year, some English towns and cities — e.g. Plymouth and Manchester — held their St George’s celebrations at the weekend. One international example was London’s Borough Market’s food festival, linked with that of Spain’s Catalonia, where George is also their patron saint.

On Tuesday, a festival of food, fun and all things English will be held in Trafalgar Square.

The painting illustrated is Paolo Uccello’s depiction of the legendary saint slaying the dragon — symbolising, to some, sin and the Devil. Uccello’s painting hangs in the Musée André Jacquemart in Paris.

You can read more about the life and legend of St George here and here.

Wow, a double feast of St George’s Day and Holy Saturday — the end of Holy Week — in 2011?  Well, not officially, as the Church Times reports:

MOST of the country’s St George’s Day celebrations will take place on Holy Saturday this year, ignoring the fact that the date has been transferred to 2 May in the church calendar.

Because 23 April falls in Holy Week, the Church of England keeps St George’s Day after Easter Week.

The move has not been widely noticed, however. The official Enjoy England website lists the top ten St George’s Day celebrations, among them London, Birmingham, Wrest Park, Skipton, and Swindon. All are on 23 April.

The Stone Cross parade in West Bromwich, billed as the largest in the country, takes place on Easter Day. Most of the other main celebrations take place over the weekend, apart from the St George’s Festival in the centre of Manchester, which has moved forward to the weekend of 15-17 April.

There is more variety within the Church itself. St George’s, Grave­send, in Kent, will be celebrating its patronal festival on Thursday 28 April (Easter Thursday), and this will coincide with the town’s annual St George’s Day parade.

The Rector of St George’s, Canon Chris Stone, said that the date was appropriate. The parade will also serve as an early celebration for the royal wedding the next day.

To avoid disappointment, please note your city or town’s celebrations and see the rest of the Church Times article for other news about St George’s Day celebrations in England, including moves to make it a national holiday.

My past posts for April 23 are ‘St George’s Day is April 23’, where you can read all about this great saint, and ‘Happy St George’s Day’ from 2009.  For those wishing to read about Holy Saturday, please see ‘What happens on Holy Saturday?’ (2009) and  ‘Holy Saturday and food traditions’ (2010).

Today’s picture comes courtesy of Paradox Place.  The painting is by Paolo Uccello (1397 – 1475 or 1478) and currently hangs in the Musee André Jacquemart in Paris.  It depicts St George slaying the famous dragon, to which the young princess in the painting was to be sacrificed as food to keep the beast quiet.  The Royal Society of St George explains (emphases mine):

The legends about St George spread far and wide and it was claimed that near the town of Silene in Libya, a dragon dwelt, keeping the population in terror. To satiate him the population tethered an animal, until they had no more. They then provided human sacrifices and in ultimate desperation, a young princess was selected, the king’s daughter named Cleolinda. The story then relates how St. George rode up on his white charger, dismounted and fought the monster on foot; until it eventually succumbed. He then dragged the dying monster into the city, using the girdle of the Princess and slew the dragon in front of the people. St. George was greeted as their saviour and the King offered him a bag of gold as a reward for saving his daughter. This he refused and asked that it be given to the poor.

The story is a powerful allegory, emblematic of the triumph of good over evil; but it also teaches of enduring Christian faith in the extreme and the trust that at all times should be placed in the Almighty by the invocation of the name of St. George, Soldier, Saint and Martyr.

And, why exactly, do we see such a rebarbative reaction to St George from so-called Englishmen year on year?  Witness Martin Bright from The Spectator in 2009:

The ersatz English pride expressed by the entirely bogus St George’s Day celebrations is deeply creepy. I hate it. Wandering through London this week and bumping into people wrapped in red and white flags or dressed as knights has made me feel deeply embarrassed to be English.

I do wonder if Mr Bright attends St Patrick’s Day pub crawls on March 17 or St Andrew’s day dinners on November 30?  Readers enquired, but he did not respond.

Why are St George’s Day celebrations ‘entirely bogus’ and ‘creepy’?  Why are they any more so than other patron saints’ feasts, pray tell us, Mr Bright?  Would you dare mention that in any of these European countries or cities: Bulgaria, Canada, Gozo, Greece, Freiburg (Germany), Genoa (Italy), Beirut (Lebanon), Lithuania, Malta, Palestine, Portugal, Moscow (Russia), Spain or — Istanbul (Turkey)?  I very much doubt it.  So, please, climb off your high horse.  What exactly is your objection?

If St George is so objected to in England, he must be a very good saint indeed.  And, for those celebrating his feast day today (preferably after Holy Week ends in the evening), let us raise a moderate glass and say:

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

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

2009 St George's Day celebrations (www.birmingham.gov.uk)

2009 St George's Day celebrations (birmingham.gov.uk)

Sorry, but, once again, it wasn’t exactly easy finding out what happened in England on St George’s Day. I saw one set of pictures on the Telegraph site and not a sausage on Times Online.  However, there is some news:

Civic and church leaders say greater emphasis should be placed on St George’s Day: ITN reports that Anglican Archbishop John Sentamu and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali call for a public holiday and dedicated religious services to celebrate St George’s Day. 

A very English patron saint: Sophia Moseley of the Dorset Echo lists activities held in the county and traces the saint’s significance to Englishmen through the ages.  Moseley ends the article with those rousing words from Henry V: ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St George!’

St George’s Day celebrations: The Daily Mail reports on an alternative BBC anthem for St George’s Day (yes, just as appalling as you would expect).  And in London, Mayor Boris Johnson had a few problems waving the flag of St George.  The Mail has some good photos. 

Pictures from St George’s Day: The Telegraph has a lovely set of photos of celebrations in London. 

St George’s Day in England: This is the Telegraph‘s earlier pictorial, this time of planned celebrations around the country.   

What makes the English ‘English’?: Metro takes a lighthearted look at our national identity.  The usual stuff.

Liverpool tears down St George’s flag: Click Liverpool reports on the local council taking down flags of St George.  Seems to have been a guerrilla activity with no council planning.  Nonetheless, Liverpudlians were annoyed.  Ironically, St George is also the patron saint of Liverpool! 

Birmingham’s St George’s Day celebrations: A schedule of Birmingham’s St George’s Day events.  Scroll down the page for a full listing.

Flying St George in 2010: Poole, Dorset, is seriously considering planning St George’s Day events for 2010.

Again, it was a bit of a damp squib here on April 23.  We can but hope that things improve next year.  The popular will is there but local government’s isn’t.  How sad.

01021_george_and_the_dragon1To Englishmen (and women) everywhere: have a happy St George’s Day!

To check out this year’s festivities in your county, click here

To find out more about St George, click here.

If you’d like to help the campaign to have St George’s Day formally recognised once again as a holiday, as it was in 1415, the year of Agincourt, click here.

It’s a beautiful day here in England, so have fun and remember our patron saint!

j03626651Finally, an English politician who is unabashedly gung-ho about St George’s Day.  Thank you, Boris Johnson!  Let’s hope more mayors and city councils follow suit.  It’s about time we reclaimed our patron saint and, as Boris says, ‘celebrate the very best of everything English’. 

More to follow on April 23.

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