The original patron saint of England was St. Edmund. He was the Saxon king of East Anglia who was beheaded by the Vikings when he refused to renounce Christianity in 870. During the campaign to stir the nation into supporting Richard the Lionheart’s Third Crusade in 1190, the King evoked St. George as the militant Christian dragonslayer to rouse the people. It proved so successful that St. George was elevated to permanent exalted status.
But who was St. George?
He was in truth a mythic figure based on an ancient Greek legend, but also on St. Michael, the sword wielding Archangel and commander of the Heavenly Host. The dragon is actually the Devil being expelled from Heaven. This story became romanticised as Christ defending his Bride, the Church in distress.
Although the Mother Church is Sacred, Christ (St. George) is tried by the authorities (non-Christian Roman) and martyred. Hence the Red Cross.
The legend goes that a dragon living in a swamp was demanding one person a week to eat from a nearby castle. In return for this weekly sacrifice, the dragon promised not to eat everyone in the castle. Eventually the time came for the king of the castle to sacrifice his own daughter to the dragon.
Legends developed around this story with a Roman Cavalryman becoming St. George and saving the Kings daughter by slaying the dragon in the swamp as he rode past on his horse.
George was a devout Christian and became very popular within the Roman Army. The Roman Empire at that time was not Christian and saw Christianity as a threat. They arrested Saint George and demanded that he denounce his Christian faith or be executed. George refused and was executed by the Roman authorities. He subsequently became patron Saint of England, Bulgaria, Georgia, Portugal, Romania, Catalonia, Aragon, Alcoy, Caceres, Lebanon, Albania, Rio De Janeiro, Greece, Milan, Romania and Serbia.
It is in truth an eternal story of Christian valour and defiance in the face of a vicious enemy. Just the story the Crusaders needed when facing the dastardly Saracens and also the story we need today as Christian soldiers battle anew to save our Land from an infidel invasion.