Eleven things you need to know about St George

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Today is St George’s Day - but how much do you know about England’s patron saint?

1 - England’s patron saint was a fourth century Christian martyr. He is also patron saint of Georgia and of the city of Moscow.

2 - George is believed to have been born into a noble Christian family in the late third century in Cappadocia, an area in what is now Turkey.

3 - He became a Roman soldier but refused to take part in the systematic persecution of Christians. For this, in 303, he was tortured and executed in Palestine.

4 - The legend of George slaying a dragon and rescuing a maiden from death did not emerge until medieval times.

5 - In 1222 The Synod of Oxford declared St George’s Day a feast day in England.

6 - St George’s Day is celebrated in several countires, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia

7 - St George has been the patron saint of England since the 14th century but polls show that only one in five people know that St George’s Day falls on April 23.

8 - St George is referenced in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: “Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again: “Oh, yes! I know that, I know that! but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on: “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”

9 - William Shakespeare, considered by some to be the greatest Englishman of all time, was born on St George’s Day, 1564 and died on the same day in 1616.

10 - The foundation stone of St. George’s Church in Portsea was laid in 1753. The church, which stands in the square ooposite to the pedestrian entrance to Gunwharf Quays, is known as the shipwrights’ church having been built by 15 shipwrights from Portsmouth Dockyard. They were joined in the construction by “three gentlemen, one carpenter, one tallow chandler and one grocer’.

11 - Portsmouth has a St George’s Road. It runs north of and parallel to the western end of Havant Road in Cosham.

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