There are various legends about Saint George so that a quick websearch reveals contradictory information, try the BBC or Wikipedia, for example. St George might have come from what is now Turkey or Libya or even Iran. He probably did not literally slay a dragon but early pictures of him show him as a warrior fighting such a creature. There is a dragon mentioned in the book of Revelation where it is usually understood to stand for the tyranny and chaos of evil. In other words, St George is remembered for standing up against evil, and lost his life for witnessing to the power of the Christian gospel which affirms life and resists violence. He is now commemorated as a Christian martyr on 23rd April as a courageous soldier who was generous to the poor and who did not keep his faith a secret.

I would suggest that he has more in common with the Pakistani Christian government minister, who lost his life earlier this year while promoting religious tolerance, than with international football for instance.

I am happy to be associated with St George and the Christian witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As for another bank holiday, I wouldn’t object and I notice that the Archbishop of York (and others, including clergy) enthusiastically backs the idea. We’ll have our cross of St George in our house on his special day. This year, strictly speaking, it is put back to the 2nd May because of the date of Easter. However, I don’t think a red cross is an inappropriate symbol for the day after Good Friday, so I think we’ll put it up on 23rd April/Easter Eve and keep it there until 2nd.

I have no problem with England having St George as our patron saint along with all the other countries who have him as well (such as Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine and Portugal). However, I think it is important to remember that the gospel he stood up for has no room for either racism, violence or persecution. It is possible to stand up for Jesus without trampling others down.

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