Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cry God for Harry! England! and St George!

Another Celt standing (not so) proudNow, I'm as patriotic as the next Englishman, and have always had a slightly uncomfortable feeling about the way that the minor patron Saints of minor Celtic countries (you know who you are - Andrew, Patrick, David) manage to get acres and acres of newsprint, public holidays and loony devotees with vegetables pinned to their lapels, but that poor old St George is pretty comprehensively ignored by everyone. It could be something to do with his murky past, his dodgy ethnicity and the fact that His Toniness has hijacked England's national emblem as a party political logo, but not many people know anything about Andrew either and that doesn't stop grown Scotsmen wearing dresses and showing everyone that, yes, they're not wearing underwear even when performing in front of several thousand pre-teens. It might even be to do with his position in the Beazer Homes League of saints, since his fall from official (ie papal) grace in the late 1960s. But even so - why do we know so little about this chap? He's renowned for being "hard as nails", a bit of a ladies' man and with a neat line in off-the-shoulder chain mail. But, Godammit, who was he?

I'll have a special messy dragon burger, please, with chilli sauceGeorge appears to have been Turkish (I'll be sure to mention this, next time I'm in Bodrum Kebab Emporium) and was beheaded by the Romans on April 23rd, 303AD for refusing to renounce his Christianity. For various reasons, he is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine and Portugal. AND, amongst other fanclubs, he is also patron saint of soldiers, and those suffering from syphilis, and farmers! A fairly busy, and popular man, it seems. But still, the Roman Catholic church downgraded him in 1969 from "Saint" to a much lower category, somewhat akin to "famous mythical pest controller". But what about the English? And the Portuguese? And the soldiers, and syphilitic farmers? If there was ever a demonstration about how little the modern Catholic church cared about .... er .... Palestinian farmers with debilitating sexually-transmitted diseases, this is it. What better sign would there be of the new ecumenical order of modern Christianity if the new pope (bless his ex-Hitler Youth silk socks) pronounced old Georgie boy as a Grade A, premership, 24 carat Super-Saint.

Bless you my son, you have sinned But here's a question. How do you get to be the patron saint of a disease? I can understand 1st century AD martyrs who were, say, garotted becoming patron saint of neck injuries, or those whose ass were "got mediaeval on" by an early version of Marcellus Wallace becoming patron saint of haemmorhoids. But syphilis? Ugh. What happened - did St George actually infect the good Emperor Diocletian with a bit of old Treponema pallidum bacteria? After all, he WAS the only Roman Emperor to ever abdicate - maybe it was after being caught in flagrante delicti after catching a dose from a bit of top Christian dragon-slaying totty. Or perhaps our favourite Turk didn't so much slay the dragon as shag it senseless. I'd always been sceptical of rumours about the possibility of catching a dose from one of our furry friends, but maybe here we have historical proof. Given that I once read at Copenhagen's "Museum Erotica" that the Vatican Library holds the largest collection of erotica and pornography in the world, maybe the Roman Catholic church knew something we didn't when they downgraded George, and it was actually for carnal knowledge of a large lizard.

Diocletian - looks a bit like John Peel to meSo there we go. A 1700 year mystery solved by The Merkin - St George was a bona fide herpetophile, caught a dose of VD from his pet dragon (who he then had put down, but invented some chivalrous story to avoid the attentions of the RSPCA) and then infected the one Roman Emperor who had precious little time for Christians in the first place. Head chopped off, cult built up, cool flag, instant hit. Shakespeare was so impressed, he managed the rather impressive feat of both being born on this day and passing away on the same date a few years later. And we thought stalkers were a modern phenomenon. Happy St George's Day.

3 Rants & Replies:

Blogger Inexplicable DeVice said...

One more reason for not going anywhere near lady gardens. Perhaps (not so) Saint George could be Patron Saint of the Gays, too?

Did you feel like Eamon Andrews With His Big Red Book researching and presenting this post?

4:54 pm, April 26, 2006

 
Blogger Merkin said...

More like Lesley Crowther - "St George - Come on down"...

9:48 pm, April 26, 2006

 
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Doesn't sound like he's got a lot to do with England, does it? I can't comment on St Andrew, but at least St Patrick and St David were authentic locals...

9:13 am, April 28, 2006

 

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