George St, Patron of England
George ST., Patron Of England, and of several other countries and towns, according to the legend, was a prince of Cappadocia, who fell a martyr under Dioclesian, 303. His greatest achievement was the conquest of a dragon, by which he delivered a king's daughter from death. He is commonly figured on horseback, in full armor, with the dragon writhing at his feet. It is difficult to separate the mythical from the historical in the accounts of St. George. Calvin and the Magdeburg centuriators deny that there ever was such a person. But it is certain that he was honored, and churches named after him, at a very early period, in the Eastern Church, especially in Georgia. Gregory of Tours mentions the honors paid him in France in the 6th century; and Gregory the Great ordered the renewal of an ancient church of St. George that was falling to ruin. His relics are said to be still preserved in the church of St. Germain des Pres at Paris. The Crusaders held St. George in special devotion; the English Council held at Oxford, 1222, made St. George's day a festival for all England; in 1347 Edward III instituted the Order of the Garter under his protection. Some writers identify St. George with the Arian George of Cappadocia (so Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Harpers' edit., 2:454). Mr. John Hogg, secretary of the Royal Society of Literature, published a pamphlet in 1862, entitled Supplementary Notes on St. George the Martyr, in which he professes to settle the question by a Greek inscription taken from a very ancient church at Ezra, in Syria, in which George is styled Martyr, and the date of his death fixed before A.D. 346, while George the Arian, of Cappadocia, was yet living. See Heylyn, Historie of St. George (London 1631, 4to); Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chapter 23; Acta Sanctorum, t. 3; Milner, Historical and critical Inquiry into the History and Character of St. George; Lowick, Life and Martyrdom of St. George; Methodist Quarterly Review, 1862, page 499.