Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Saint George's Day

April 23 is traditionally Saint George’s Day, which is also the Pope Francis’ Onomastico (Name Day), since his baptismal name is Jorge (George). Name days still have a certain resonance in Catholic countries and cultures, and in the Vatican itself the papal Onomastico is annually observed as a holiday.

George is, of course, the patron saint of England, the flag of which is the red cross of Saint George on a white field (photo). George is one of the 4 patrons of the United Kingdom (along with Scotland's Andrew, Wales's David, and Ireland's Patrick). 

Perhaps especially fervent prayers should be directed George's way this year as the UK struggles to sort out its increasingly stressed politics and chart a new future free from the European Union.

All we know for certain about Saint George himself is that he was martyred in the East at the beginning of the 4th century. He was widely venerated in both East and West long before tradition turned the onetime Roman soldier into a medieval knight. Medieval tradition portrayed Saint George as a gallant knight who killed a monstrous dragon. In the Book of Revelation, the Dragon is, of course, the classic image of the Evil One, Satan, the Devil, against whom, as Pope Francis himself has so frequently reminded us, the Christian life is a continuous battle.  

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