Saint George (ca. 275/281 – 23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr.
In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.
In the General Calendar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23. In the Tridentine Calendar it was given the rank of “Semidouble”. In Pope Pius XII’s 1955 calendar this rank is reduced to “Simple”. In Pope John XXIII’s 1960 calendar the celebration to just a “Commemoration”. In Pope Paul VI’s 1969 calendar it is raised to the level of an optional “Memorial”. In some countries, such as England, the rank is higher.
St. George is the patron saint of England; his cross forms the national flag of England, and features within the Union Jack of the United Kingdom. Traces of the cult of Saint George in England predate the Norman Conquest in the eleventh century; by the fourteenth century the saint had been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the royal family.
It was probably Richard 1 who adopted St. George’s symbol of red cross on a white background for the uniform of English soldiers. This later became the flag of England.
Edward III adopted St. George as a patron of the Knights of the Garter, his new order of chivalry, and proclaimed him as a patron saint of England.