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National legends - UK patron saints

The following extracts have been taken from The United Kingdom: 100 questions answered, Jan 2003, published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

 

St. Andrew's Day (30 November) - Scotland

This has now largely been overshadowed by Bums' Night. St. Andrew, one of Christ's twelve apostles, is the patron saint of Scotland. Some of his bones are said to have been brought to what is now St. Andrews in Fife during the 4th century. Since medieval times the X-shaped saltire cross upon which St. Andrew was supposedly crucified has been the Scottish national symbol.

 

St. David's Day (1 March) - Wales

This is the National Day of Wales. St. David (c.520-588), the patron saint of Wales, was the founder and first abbot-bishop of Menevia, now St. David's in Dyfed, South Wales. The day is commemorated by the wearing of daffodils or leeks by patriotic Welsh people. Both plants are traditionally regarded as the national emblems of Wales.

 

St. Patrick's Day (17th March) - Ireland

It is an official Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland. The work of St. Patrick: 389-c.461) was a vital factor in the spread of Christianity in Ireland. Born in Britain, he was carried off by pirates, and spent six years in slavery before escaping and training as a missionary. The day is marked by the wearing of shamrocks (a clover-like plant), the national badge of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

 

St. George's Day (23 April) - England

St. George is the patron saint of England. A story that first appeared in the 6th century tells that St. George rescued a hapless maid by slaying a fearsome fire-breathing dragon! The saint's name was shouted as a battle cry by English knights who fought beneath the red-cross banner of St. George during the Hundred Years War (1338-1453). This is immortalised in Shakespeare's play Henry V in the lines:


"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:

Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry! England and Saint George!’ "


For further information try the World of English archive:
  • Patrick: Ireland’s patron saint
  • Just who is St Andrew?

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