St George rode into Chipstead today in the form of historian Rupert Matthews who came to Chipstead Sailing Club to reveal the exciting results of his new research into the life and times of England’s national patron saint.
Dragon-slayer, English hero, martyr, warrior, soldier and saint — St George has been all these things. But who was the real St George? English author Rupert Matthews revealed all to the Chipstead Conservatives at a lunch on 7 October.
Rupert Matthews said “St George is one of the most instantly recognisable saints who has ever existed. His bold red cross on a white background waves from football terraces wherever England play, flutters from cars and flies proudly from English flagpoles everywhere. And yet surprisingly few people are aware of where he has come from, how he developed and what has made him what he is today.
“St George was a real man – an army offcer who lived in Syria and was executed on 23 April 303 on the orders of Roman Emperor Diocletian. He had fallen foul of an Imperial edit aimed at suppressing Christianity, and George was a well-known opponent of the god Apollo who was beheaded as an example to others. He acquired his red cross as a symbol of his martyrdom. The dragon was a misinterpretation of icons that showed him killing the pythia, a giant serpent that was the symbol of Apollo. But it was the crusades that really turned St George into a great hero – the soldier saint was credited with winning the Battle of Antioch on 1098. And when King Edward III was looking for a suitable rallying point for the English army fighting France in the Hundred Years War he turned to St George. So St George was transformed from the Christian martyr or reality to the dragon-slaying Englishman of legend.”
Rupert Matthews has written a fascinating book based on his research into folklore and legends to put together an accurate account of St George’s original life story, and how he has developed in folklore and legend to become what he is today.
Author Rupert Matthews says “I was thrilled to write this book as it has allowed me to unravel the historic mysteries surrounding St George. I have been able to disprove some of the misinformation spread about our national saint in recent years and to restore him to his rightful place.”
To book Rupert Matthews to speak at your event email him on firstname.lastname@example.org