George, Saint, 4th cent.?, perhaps a soldier in the imperial army who died for the faith in Asia Minor. His life is cloaked in legends; Gibbon's identification of him with George of Cappadocia is false. George is one of the great saints of the Eastern Church and the ancient patron of soldiers. A vision of St. George at the seige of Antioch during the First Crusade is said to have preceded the defeat of the Saracens and the fall of the city to the crusaders. Richard I placed himself and his army under the protection of St. George during the Third Crusade. He became the patron of England in the late Middle Ages. In old plays and in art St. George is the slayer of the dragon; The Golden Legend did much for the extension of the tale. The Red Cross Knight of Edmund Spenser's Faërie Queene is St. George and stands for the Church of England. St. George's Cross is red, and it appears in the Union Jack. Feast: Apr. 23.
See A. Barclay, Life of St. George, ed. by W. Nelson (1955, repr. 1960).
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