Monday, April 24, 2017

St. George and the English Martyrs

In England today both Catholics and Anglicans are celebrating the Feast of St. George. He is best known as the slayer of a dragon but St. George of Lydda was a martyr. His feast is usually celebrated on April 23, but since that was the Second Sunday of Easter and the last day of the Easter Octave, it's been translated to April 24 this year in England.

This image of him being dragged through the streets to his execution, a panel from a 15th century painting by Bernat Martorell, explains why Westminster Cathedral has a chapel dedicated to St. George and the English Martyrs. Those martyred saints who were accused of treason because they were Catholic priests, or were converts or had influenced the conversion of others, were dragged through the streets just like St. George had been.

More about the painting here and here. (It's one of those art history mysteries recently solved; the pieces of a retable were separated during the Spanish Civil War and still are: one piece in Chicago, the rest in Paris!)

Like some of the English Martyrs honored in the Cathedral's chapel, St. George was tortured before being dragged and beheaded as this painting by Michiel Coxie from the 16th century shows.

The Cathedral's website has not been updated yet, but the page for the chapel explains the plans and this story from The Catholic Herald describes the changes after they'd been unveiled last year. I posted information about the dedication of the chapel here.

St. George and the English Martyrs, pray for us!

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