about st george's church st george's news advertisers Waterlooville Music Festival
printer info
From the Vicar Golden Treasury Honey loaf cake 100 years of worship Garden Gossip The new St George's Book Corner Lockdown St George the Martyr The Tower of Babel Advert The Window Who am I? In insolation I should like Walsingham 2000 The Happy Wanderer Crossword Puzzle time Korean War Veteran

St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Summer 2020 issue

Saint George the Martyr

As Fr Colin’s sermon on the Feast of St George was delivered on a Wednesday and may have been missed by some of our readers, we are presenting it in the magazine, as it is an interesting account on the subject of our Patron Saint.

I am sure that you are all aware that tomorrow is the Feast Day of St George, our Patron. It had been my intention to make something of the Feast Day this year, and even had a guest preacher lined up to come and speak to us – but like so much else it has had to be put on hold, maybe next year.

I do want to say something about George (albeit a day early) not least because our church is dedicated to him. I am sure that many of you are aware of the stained-glass window in our Lady Chapel which is a beautiful representation of the saint and something I often sit in front of and meditate. The image actually represents a later idea of St George which became popular in the medieval period. He is dressed as a soldier in a white tunic with a red cross, the military uniform of the crusaders. George certainly was a soldier, but the tunic he wears is due to the fact that during the crusades he became the patron saint of soldiers. Richard 1st called upon George for protection before the third crusade in 1187 and the red cross on a white background became the standard uniform of the crusaders. In time, perhaps due to the English King (Richard 1st) adopting George as his patron, he George morphed into the ideal soldier and as having some kind of special significance to England (although in reality he had no connection to this country at all).  In 1347 he replaced Edward the Confessor as the Patron Saint of England (somewhat odd that an English king should be replaced by a Palestinian soldier – but more of that in a minute). George’s credentials as being the patron of England were further enhanced by William Shakespeare and the famous speech put into the mouth of Henry V before the battle of Agincourt in which St George is invoked as a powerful ally of king and country.

Moving back to the representation of George in our Stained-glass window, at his feet is the defeated dragon. In fact, the association of George with the slaying of the dragon does not occur until the 12th century (the same time his popularity was growing among the crusaders). It was included in a work known as The Golden Legend which appeared around 1260. This is a bizarre collection of mythical stories about saints, which became regarded by many as ‘history’, and was extremely popular in the Middle Ages.

So what do we really know about the real St George?

From a very early time (at least as early as the 5th century) mention is made of St George where he is remembered as a martyr, killed during the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. George is thought to have been a soldier in Lydda in Palestine. It was in this region that Diocletian launched a devastating persecution against Christianity, and he began by trying to purge the army of Christian soldiers. Early records suggest that George ‘gave his goods to the poor, and openly confessed Christianity before the authorities’. In this he was an exemplar of the Early Church that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, and which is read particularly during the Easter season. The persecution launched by Diocletian in 303 AD was short-lived. In 305 he abdicated, and the year for the death of George is usually given as 303 or 304.

In George we have an example of the perfect Christian, faithful, brave, compassionate and kind; and it is to this that we are called to aspire.

And the dragon? Well perhaps the myth of the dragon is based on the Greek myth of Perseus, where the dragon represents evil and Perseus represents the embodiment of good.

Finally, we are not the only nation who commemorate George as their patron. He is also the Patron Saint of Portugal, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, the Palestinian Territories, Serbia and Lithuania.

Today give thanks for his selflessness, his generosity, his steadfastness and his courage, and perhaps at this moment in time in particular it is appropriate to pray for him, that we in our own age may reflect upon those characteristics.

Fr Dr Colin Lawlor