BY GEORGE! ST George Is No Sinner. Are Namesakes Saints or Sinners?
Byline: BY BOB HAYWOOD
After all, he is the patron saint of England and today we celebrate St George's Day, our chests swelling with national pride.
But even this quintessential English hero isn't what he appears to be.
For a start, he wasn't even English: being born in Palestine in the 3rd century AD of a Turkish father.
And St George isn't just our patron saint. He also watches over Catalonia in Spain, Liguria in Italy, the Greek Army, Scouts - and syphilis sufferers.
He was 'adopted' as an Englishman after the Crusaders returned home from the Holy Land in the 1 1th century with tales of his Christian piety.
There are now even doubts about whether St George was a dragon-slayer. The story didn't emerge until 800 years after his death and it is thought the 'dragon' referred to the Roman Emperor Diocletian who persecuted Christians. And for more than 30 years he wasn't even a fully-lodged saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
St George was canonised in AD 495 by Pope Gelasius but he was demoted to 'optional worship' by Pope Paul VI in 1969 because of doubts over whether he actually deserved to be a saint. But in 2000, Pope John-Paul II reinstated him for full membership of the calendar of saints.
Yet despite being slightly shop-soiled, St George is definitely a saint, not a sinner. Which is more than can be said for many famous men - dead and alive - who bear his illustrious name.
The Sunday Mercury has compiled this list of good and bad Georges throughout history.
GEORGE WASHINGTON SAINT: First president of the United States of America. …