UK Patron Saints
The United Kingdom is divided into different countries – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and each country has its own patron saint. Although Ireland is not part of the UK, it shares a lot with Northern Ireland, including its Patron Saint – Patrick.
St George never actually set foot in England and he wasn’t the original patron saint, (originally St Edmund) but his reputation has been celebrated across England ever since the 9th century. Little is known about St George’s history but one legend has it, he was a Roman soldier who killed a dragon to save the life of a young princess. He was popular with the English kings, especially Edward I.
St George often protested against the way Christian people were treated and he was eventually executed due to his religious beliefs. The George Cross flag wasn’t used until the reign of Henry VIII. It was Edward III who founded the Knights of the Garter in 1348 and made St George patron of the Order.
St George’s Day is still celebrated with parades, fetes and church services but is not a national holiday in England.
St Andrew has been celebrated in Scotland for over 1000 years but it wasn’t until 1320, after signing the Declaration of Arbroath for Scotland’s independence, he officially became the patron saint. It is said St Andrew was a fisherman and one of Jesus’ apostles involved in major moments of Christ’s life. He spent his later life preaching and was martyred in Greece where he died by crucifixion. The St Andrew Cross was chosen to honour him and St Andrew’s city in the north of Scotland, is also named after him, claiming this was his final resting place.
St Andrew’s Day is marked with food, drink, dance and partying into the night.
Saint Patrick was born in the 4th century and was a missionary and bishop of Ireland. According to the “Declaration”, apparently written by Patrick, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to work as a shepherd. It was here that he found God. After making his way home, he became a priest and spent much of his time converting thousands of people to Christianity. It was also said that Patrick drove out all the “snakes” from Ireland.
St Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated with parades, parties and a lot of alcohol consumption. It is also a public holiday in Ireland.
Saint David was born between 462 and 515, legend has it, in Pembrokeshire on a cliff top during a storm. This is now marked by the ruins of Non’s Chapel as well as a holy well, which is said to have healing powers. David was a great preacher and lived a simple life ploughing fields and he refrained from eating meat and drinking beer.
St David’s Day is marked with parades and concerts, flags are flown and children dress in their traditional Welsh outfits. The national flower, the daffodil, as well as leeks are worn by many of the Welsh.