Surprising St George
To think about St George, who he might have been and what we can learn from Englandís patron saint.
by The Revd Sue Allen
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To think about St George, who he might have been and what we can learn from England’s patron saint.
Preparation and materials
- You will need an England flag, a dragon (model or picture if the real thing is not available!), a picture of a tree or an actual (part of a) tree, a model sword and shield.
- Set up a display of the flag and dragon.
- Show the England flag and dragon and ask, who do you think this assembly is about? St George, the patron saint of England (i.e. a special person who reminds us what we want our country to be like).
- Who was St George? There are many different legends or stories about St George from various parts of the world. He is also the patron saint of Aragon, Canada, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Palestine, Portugal, Russia and Serbia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana and Moscow.
Perhaps that’s one reason why he’s the patron saint of England, a country with a long tradition of welcoming people from other places. St George is an important figure with a message for Jewish and Muslim people too.
- One story has it that St George was an officer in the Roman army. It was dangerous to be a Christian in the years after Jesus died. The Roman government killed Christians for being faithful to Jesus and saying that their belief in God was more important than their allegiance to (following of) the law of Rome.
How did he become a Christian? George saw 40 Christians being killed – maybe he was even part of the group of soldiers who had to kill them. The story goes that when they died he saw a vision: 40 crowns came down from heaven and landed on their heads. This made such an impression on him that he decided to become a Christian too.
There is a well-known story about St George fighting a dragon. We don’t believe in real dragons but in another way we do all have dragons to fight. Perhaps his dragon was that he stood up to the people who tried to kill Christians.
- What can we learn from St George? Ask for volunteers to hold the sword and shield. He brings people together because everyone has things they’re afraid of: our dragons! Maybe SATS, or getting lost, or people being horrible to each other, for example. We come together not to fight each other, but to fight our fears, to stand up against things we’re afraid of. We need to face those fears, those dragons, and get rid of them.
- What do we need when we’re afraid of a dragon? Shield or sword? Which one first? With the shield, we think of good things, people who love us and care for us, like our families. For Christians and other believers, we can remember that God loves us and cares for us. With our sword we can face down our dragons: do what we can, work hard for SATS, try to stand up for what’s right.
- Ask for a volunteer to hold the tree. Explain that the Arabic name for St George means ‘the green one’ and he is known as a protector of trees, and also ‘healer’. So in this version of the legend, St George reminds us how important it is to care for the environment because God made it.
Time for reflection
Think of St George.
Think about trees.
St George is someone who people of all faiths can respect, someone who cared about the world.
Think about how we can look after the world.
Think of the shield, which reminds us of those who love us and want to help and protect us.
We can remember them when we feel afraid.
Think of the sword and the things we can do: work hard for SATS, stick up for other people, look after new children in school.
Thank you for the many legends and stories about St George.
Thank you that he is an important person with an important message
for so many different people around the world.
‘When a knight won his spurs’ (Come and Praise, 50)