St George's Day: Some facts that may surprise you as Google celebrates England's patron saint

King Edward III was a big fan, but George probably didn't save a maiden from a dragon…

Kashmira Gander
Thursday 23 April 2015 11:12 BST

With his trusty white steed and dense suit of armour, St George is - along with tea and rain - one the most recognisable symbols of England.

And to mark St George’s Day, Google has featured an illustrated Doodle of England's patron saint battling a dragon on its homepage.

Here are some facts about the Patron Saint of England that might surprise you...

Saint George isn’t English

While St George’s exact birthdate remains unclear but is likely to be 270 AD, we know that he was born in Cappadocia, part of modern day Turkey.

He probably didn’t save a maiden from a dragon…

As if the dragon wasn't a giveaway, we’re sorry to say that the vision of Saint George in a red-crossed white tunic saving a fair maiden from a fire-breathing beast is all myth and legend.

This depiction of Saint George first came to public attention in 1483 in a book called The Golden Legend, according to the BBC. The text was a translation of a book by a French Bishop, Jacques de Voragine.

Little is known about the man

What we do know is that Saint George was born to an upper-class Christian family, before he become a Roman soldier. When his father died, he and his mother returned to Palestine, and he decided to join the retinue of Diocletian, the Roman Emperor at the time.

He earned his reputation as a protector of Christianity after he refused orders from Diocletian to persecute followers of the religion at the start of the 4th century. He then resigned.

And despite being cruelly tortured at the order of the emperor, Saint George refused to denounce his faith. His actions saw him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (now Lydda) in Palestine and beheaded.

The martyrdom retold in Saint George's legend appears to be historically accurate, as he is believed to have died in 303 AD.

It wasn't until 494AD that he was canonised by Pope Gelasius.

A king decided to make him the Patron Saint of England

Edward III, who reigned from 1327 to 1377 was influenced by the stories of returning crusaders telling of Saint George's bravery.

So, when Edward founded the Order of the Garter, England’s order of knights, he made Saint George its patron.

By the 14th century Saint George was viewed as a special protector of the English.

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