KATHERINE NEVILLE’S St George’s Day Newsletter April 23, 2021

Katherine in Red Square

KATHERINE NEVILLE’S
St George’s Day Newsletter
April 23, 2021

St George: Patron Saint

Some of the many places that claim St George as their patron saint include England, Georgia, Ethiopia, Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Portugal, Rio de Janeiro, and Moscow!

I was present for the 850th birthday celebration of Moscow (1147-1997), when the city was festooned with St George posters and a medallion was created commemorating the first gold coin ever struck, depicting St George slaying the dragon. (See: Moscow, Monks, Murder, Mayhem, the Mafia)

​During my research travels around the world, ​I’ve ​visited ​interesting sites with art representing ​St George. ​

In Cappadocia (central Turkey) I found the beautiful mural of St George and St Theodore attacking the dragon. One of the oldest legends of St George is that he was born in Cappadocia. (See: The Caves of Cappadocia and Mural of St. George)

St Jordi: Day of the Book

St George is patron of many cities and countries, but for me his more important role is that he is also (as St Jordi) the patron saint of BOOKS!

The official UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day, founded in Catalonia in 1926, is still celebrated today on St George’s Day. 

Casa Batlló decorated with roses
for St Jordi’s day

One “Diada de Sant Jordi” I was in Barcelona on book tour. Everyone was out in the streets, giving gifts of books and roses. When St George slew the dragon, from it’s blood a beautiful rose sprang up. St Jordi is a kind of Valentine’s Day for Catalans, a celebration of love, flowers, and books! 

Cervantes and Shakespeare 

April 23rd also is the “official” death date of two of my favorite authors: Shakespeare and Cervantes. However, when Shakespeare and Cervantes died in 1616, their two calendars were actually 10 days apart. Protestant England was still on the ancient Julian calendar from before the time of Christ, while most of the Catholic world had converted to “modern” Georgian calendar, created by Pope Gregory XIII in the 1500s. Both of these wonderful authors have important walk-on parts in my forthcoming book about artists in the 1600s!

Happy St George’s Day! Give someone you admire a rose and book!