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April 2013 - For England, St George and the Vulnerable
For England and Saint George, so cried Henry V to rally his men before the Battle of Agincourt. Yet George, as the Patron Saint of England, goes back to the Synod of Oxford in 1222 and perhaps even further to when Richard I invoked the Spirit of St George before his victory over the Saracens at Antioch during the first Crusade. George, believed to have been a soldier, was martyred during the Diocletian persecution of Christians in the year BC 303.
Legend has it that he slayed a “creature” that terrorised a community. The only reward, it is said, he required was that every member of the community believe in Jesus Christ and be baptised. 15,000 men were baptised and to show the fruits of conversion he asked the king and the people to maintain churches, honour priests and show compassion to the poor. St George came to represent Christian Knightly virtue throughout Europe dedicated to protecting the vulnerable.
On the 23rd April we celebrate our Patron Saint and, before dismissing him to legend, we do well to remember that Christian chivalry, to protect the weak, poor and vulnerable, is very much at the heart of discipleship particularly today in these hard times. Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you” and gave us an example of Christian empathy and the will to make lives richer through Christian life-style and self-sacrifice.
Can we do less when we owe so much to our own benefactor – even Jesus Christ himself?