St. George was a Christian martyr who lived in the Middle East in the A . D . 200s. Over the centuries, legends grew up about his courage and piety. The most popular tale described how St. George killed a terrifying dragon.
The dragon was threatening the local citizens in a city. The people decided to cast lots each day to choose one person for the dragon to eat, thus sparing the rest of the population. One day the king's daughter was selected to be the dragon's victim. As the dragon prepared to devour her, St. George arrived. He charged forward, made the sign of the cross, and killed the dragon. Impressed with both his faith and his strength, the people of the city decided to convert to Christianity.
Other tales concern St. George's martyrdom, which took place in Palestine*. The Roman government there was persecuting Christians, and St. George openly opposed their policies. The Romans tortured him for his resistance and beheaded him in about A . D . 300.
The legends about St. George spread to Europe during the Crusades, when armies of Europeans traveled to the Middle East. In the 1300s, George became patron saint of England. He is often pictured in Christian art carrying a sword and shield and wearing armor decorated with a red cross.
See also Dragons .
martyr person who suffers or is put to death for a belief
piety faithfulness to beliefs
persecute to harass or punish individuals or groups
patron special guardian, protector, or supporter