Saturday, 23 April 2011

St. George; Patron Saint of England

Born: ?
Died: 23-Apr-303 AD
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: Ancient Rome
Executive summary:Patron saint of England

St. George, the patron saint of England, Aragon and Portugal. According to the legend given by Metaphrastes the Byzantine hagiologist, and substantially repeated in the Roman Acta sanctorum and in the Spanish breviary, he was born in Cappadocia of noble Christian parents, from whom he received a careful religious training. Other accounts place his birth at Lydda, but preserve his Cappadocian parentage. Having embraced the profession of a soldier, he rapidly rose under Diocletian to high military rank. In Persian Armenia he organized and energized the Christian community at Urmi (Urumiah), and even visited Britain on an imperial expedition. When Diocletian had begun to manifest a pronounced hostility towards Christianity, George sought a personal interview with him, in which he made deliberate profession of his faith, and, earnestly remonstrating against the persecution which had begun, resigned his commission. He was immediately laid under arrest, and after various tortures, finally put to death at Nicomedia (his body being afterwards taken to Lydda) on the 23rd of April 303. His festival is observed on that anniversary by the entire Roman Catholic Church as a semi-duplex, and by the Spanish Catholics as a duplex of the first class with an octave. The day is also celebrated as a principal feast in the Orthodox Eastern Church.

The historical basis of the tradition is particularly unsound, there being two claimants to the name and honor. Eusebius writes: "Immediately on the promulgation of the edict (of Diocletian) a certain man of no mean origin, but highly esteemed for his temporal dignities, as soon as the decree was published against the churches in Nicomedia, stimulated by a divine zeal and excited by an ardent faith, took it as it was openly placed and posted up for public inspection, and tore it to shreds as a most profane and wicked act. This, too, was done when the two Caesars were in the city, the first of whom was the eldest and chief of all and the other held fourth grade of the imperial dignity after him. But this man, as the first that was distinguished there in this manner, after enduring what was likely to follow an act so daring, preserved his mind, calm and serene, until the moment when his spirit fled." Rivalling this anonymous martyr, who is often supposed to have been St. George, is an earlier martyr briefly mentioned in the Chronicon Pascale: "In the year 225 of the Ascension of our Lord a persecution of the Christians took place, and many suffered martyrdom, among whom also the Holy George was martyred."

Two Syrian church inscriptions bearing the name, one at Ezr'a and the other at Shaka, found by Burckhardt and Porter, and discussed by J. Hogg in the Transactions of the Royal Literary Society, may with some probability be assigned to the middle of the 4th century. John Calvin impunged the saint's existence altogether, and Edward Reynolds (1599-1676), Bishop of Norwich, like Edward Gibbon a century later, made him one with George of Laodicea, called "the Cappadocian", the Arian bishop of Alexandria.

Modern criticism, while rejecting this identification, is not unwilling to accept the main fact that an officer named Georgios, of high rank in the army, suffered martyrdom probably under Diocletian. In the canon of Pope Gelasius (494) George is mentioned in a list of those "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God", a statement which implies that legends had already grown up around his name. The caution of Gelasius was not long preserved; Gregory of Tours, for example, asserts that the saint's relics actually existed in the French village of Le Maine, where many miracles were wrought by means fo them; and Bede, while still explaining that the Gesta Georgii are reckoned apocryphal, commits himself to the statement that the martyr was beheaded under Dacian, king of Persia, whose wife Alexander, however, adhered to the Christian faith. The great fame of George, who is reverenced alike by Eastern and Western Christendom and by Mahommedans, is due to many causes. He was martyred on the eve of the triumph of Christianity, his shrine was reared near the scene of a great Greek legend (Perseus and Andromeda), and his relics were removed from Lydda, where many pilgrims had visited them, to Zorava in the Hauran served to impress his fame not only on the Syrian population, but on their Moslem conquerors, and again on the Crusaders, who in grateful memory of the saint's intervention on their behalf at Antioch built a new cathedral at Lydda to take the place of the church destroyed by the Saracens. This cathedral was in turn destroyed by Saladin.

The connection of St. George with a dragon, familiar since the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, can be traced to the close of the 6th century. At Arsuf or Joppa -- neither of them far from Lydda -- Perseus had slain the sea monster that threatened the virgin Andromeda, and George, like many another Christian saint, entered into the inheritance of veneration previously enjoyed by a pagan hero. The exploit thus attaches itself to the very common Aryan myth of the sun-god as the conqueror of the powers of darkness.

The popularity of St. George in England has never reached the height attained by St. Andrew in Scotland, St. David in Wales, or St. Patrick in Ireland. The council of Oxford in 1222 ordered that his feast should be kept as a national festival, but it was not until the time of King Edward III that he was made patron of the kingdom. The republics of Genoa and Venice were also under his protection.

Acknowledgements to Birmingham Patriot from which this article is copied.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Minutes of the Leicestershire meeting, April 2011

Minutes of the BNP meeting, held in North West Leicestershire on 2nd April 2011

The meeting was opened and chaired by Geoff Dickens.

Minutes of the last meeting were read and agreed.

Geoff first gave us a critical explanation of our monetary situation centrally and locally, then called upon Councillor Ian Meller to begin on today's subject of elections.

Ian, councillor in NW Leic., told us about the planning application in Coalville for a superstore, where the local people want Asda on one site, the Conservative councillors want to put a Tesco's on another site for what seem to be private reasons.

Cathy Duffy, Borough Councillor in Charnwood and East Goscote;
Cathy told us that we must concentrate on keeping the seats we hold, as we are much appreciated in the areas where we work by the public and by other councillors.

Councillor James North (Melton & Rutland) then gave us a presentation on the Localism Bill which is on it's second reading in Parliament. The bill gives power away from the government to local councils.
He summarised at the end:
Councils to decide who goes on their housing waiting lists,
Referendums on any local issue,
An open book for councils,
Decentralisation of services...and said that if we are aware of the bill we can use it.
Q and A:
Ian asked when the bill would be passed and James told us that it would be a few months after the elections.
Councillor John Ryde (Hinckley & Bosworth) told us the bill was part of Cameron's big society but that we can use their tools to fight our fights.
On being asked how to vote on AV James suggested we oppose it.

The collection made £145.20
The raffle made £36.

The next meeting will be in early June in NW Leics.