Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy St George's Day

There's quite a bit of interesting folklore about St George. In Russia, apparently, women leave clothes under bushes on St George's Day. If a leaf falls on their item of clothing, they believe they will get pregnant. George is also (possibly) associated with Khizr or Khidr, the Sufi saint and inner Friend in Islam. So George is a symbol of verdant renewal.

In Orthodox Christianity, George's title is Holy Glorious Great Martyr, Victorybearer and Wonderworker George - now that's what I call a proper title.

The patron saint of England was originally Edmund Martyr, who was murdered by Vikings. They chopped off his head, which was then guarded by a wolf until some Christians came to bury him (at Bury St Edmund's).

The next patron saint of England was Edward the Confessor, who married a Norman lady and thereby paved the way for the Norman Conquest. The Normans presided over the increasing Catholicisation of the English church, which had been doing liturgy in a unique Saxon style. Obviously the Synod of Whitby had scuppered the Orthodox date of Easter and the Celtic tonsure, but there were still some differences in liturgy which may have been more similar to Orthodoxy.

George only got made patron saint of England during the reign of Edward III.

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