How did you celebrate Saint George’s Day? Did you celebrate on the right day? The Feast Day is usually on the anniversary of his martyrdom – 23rd April 303, but due to it this year falling on the Second Sunday of Easter which has priority it was moved to the following day of Monday the 24th. This important point was lost on the secular news media who declared Sunday to be the Saint’s Day, and on the non-religious celebrants who paraded. The religious significance was lost on them, as was the origin of the flag of Saint George that was to be adopted as England’s flag. Much publicity was devoted to the Royal Society of St. George parade held in Nottingham, which seems to be increasing in popularity with a few thousand attending. Many, if not most, dressed as Crusader soldiers in chainmail and surcoats emblazoned with the red cross. The fact they were wearing the Cross of Christ so prominently and commemorating a martyr of Christian persecution, which is still prevalent even in this country, would be a fuzzy concept or even embarrassing.
It is important that the Patron Saint of England should be celebrated and the CDP has long advocated for this special day to be a public holiday in England. Heaven forbid that it degenerates like Saint Patrick’s Day to be about the craic, Guinness and all sorts of sham-rock and paddy-wackery. Jeremy Corbyn is now talking about all four UK nations having public holidays for all the Patron saints, which seems to be rather excessive. There is now no good reason for not making St. George’s Day a public holiday, so long as it is also a holy day.
Today, I celebrated the Feast Day at Walsingham at the Shrine of Our Lady whose dowry is England – this green and pleasant land. The pilgrim High Mass was well attended with an interesting selection of hymns all sung with gusto. Following the Angelus the entry hymn was ‘Jerusalem’. At the presentation of the gifts we sang; “Leader now on earth no longer, soldier of th’eternal King, victor in the fight for heaven, we thy living praises sing. Great Saint George, our patron help us, in the conflict be thou nigh; help us in that daily battle, where each one must win or die.” The final hymn was ‘Faith of our Fathers’, which unfortunately we rarely hear any more.
Saint George was executed during the Christian persecution by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. We do not know much about him and the legends surrounding him are likely to be symbolic and based on icons. It is accepted that the dragon is representative of Satan and evil by reference to the Book of Revelation [the Apocalypse]. It has also been suggested that Diocletian’s emblem and banner contained a dragon, however I have not been able to verify that [if you know please let me know]. The sheep being sacrificed to the dragon represent the persecuted Christians who are followed by the maidens and princess who are symbolic of the mother Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Following Emperor Constantine’s victory under the emblazoned Cross of Christ and his declaration that Christianity be the preferred state religion, the cult of St. George spread and with it the association of the Red Cross. Although this veneration was brought back to England by returning Crusaders, this was preceded by the dedication of English churches to St. George in the early 10th century. Edward III put the Order of the Garter under the patronage of the Saint, later with a public holiday from the early 15th century. More than four hundred years ago George displaced Saint Edmund as Patron of England.
There has been a resurgence in the celebration of St. George and he continues to feature on the gold Sovereign coins. Political correctness and charges of racism have been overcome – St. George is again victorious. But to emphasise this must be a holy day.
So for many the secular holiday would be to start with a full English breakfast followed by a saunter to the pub for a pre-parade drink of real-ale. A Crusader outfit would be optional, with the wearing of a red rose obligatory. Lunch would be a roast beef dinner with more real-ale, and then to the parade itself. Afterwards, back to the pub for a few bottles of Crusader Special. Then a supper of fish, chips and mushy peas. And so to bed – job done – diet to follow. Rather them than me.