Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Feast of St. George!

Now here is a saint of mystery, legend, and glory. The popular story of St. George, passed down to us in the Golden Legend, has dragons and princesses running around, with our hero saving the day. This is the familiar tale and the origin of our saint's iconography, but, there are other legends of St. George, too. In one of the earliest legends , he's put to death, chopped up into little pieces, buried, and set on fire ~ three times ~ and each time God restores him to life! A more likely possibility, though, but no less heroic, is the figure of St. George as a martyred Roman soldier, perhaps the one who tore down Diocletian's edict of persecution at Nicomedia. That would have been, in my mind, a feat at least as courageous as facing a dragon!

Still, even that is legend.

We do know, though, that St. George lived in the late third century in Nicomedia, and that he likely was martyred at Lyda, and we're pretty sure he was a high ranking Roman soldier. But, we don't know for certain what the real story of this saint may have been. The details of his martyrdom have been lost to history, but his fame over two millenia has only grown. Whatever may have been the truth, we know it must have been amazing and heroic, based on the legends that have grown up around him!
St. George is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and was chosen above a heaven full of saints to be the patron of England: Greece, Portugal, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany and the Netherlands, among others.
He is also the patron saint of: horsemen, calvary soldiers, soldiers in general, farmers, lepers, shepherds, scouts, farmers, and Teutonic knights.

The flag of St. George, bearing the red cross on a white background is the standard of England and Georgia, and is the municipal flag of Montreal, Barcelona, Milan, Genoa, and Padua, among others.
* England, however, is considering doing away with the flag of St. George, as they deem it now too "warlike" and possibly offensive to Muslims. All I have to say about that is: God helps us. See that story here.
* And, though, St. George's Day is still a national day of celebration in England, it seems to have hit on some controversy. If you're interested in getting a sense of the British people's thorough confusion these days, look here to see how they are attempting to redefine the "symbolism" of St. George and the his flag to reflect modern sensibilities. (gag,gag)

For the record, here's the Catholic symbolism of the story of St. George and the Dragon:
Dragons = sin, evil, wickedness
Princess = God's Truth, Holy Mother Church

So, St. George defends the Truth of the Church against that wicked influence that would try to defeat it, from Diocletian to the Muslim tide during the crusades (and today!), and all the humanism and pagan influences of the modern day, as well as the personal dragons each of us must slay to perfect our own souls and win heaven.

On a lighter note: You can find an awesome, realistic coloring page of St. George and the Dragon, here,* and a simpler one here.  And here (we like this last one!)

Catholic Cuisine has a plethora of fun ways to celebrate St. George's Day, including this totally cool dragon cake!

Also, since St. George is the patron of England, today's lessons could include a little study of all things English.  You can find a lapbook (with free pdfs) of all things England here.  And this Pintrest board has tons of ideas -- but, not having done the prep work ourselves to dive into a whole unit study, we'll observe the day by having a tea party this afternoon -- with scones and other British style delectables.  

If the children would like to "play" St. George and the dragon today, Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart has the best sword making tutorial here, and here is a shield-making tutorial.

* We, um, just realized upon printing these out, that the colorers, will have to, um, provide some clothing for poor, cold St. George on this coloring page...

** Repost from 2009 (Please forgive me if any of these links is not working any more.  I just haven't had the time to recheck them all!)

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