St. George, Patron Saint of Scouting

"Prepared and alert a Scout follows the lead
Of our Patron Saint George and his spirited steed."
- Baden-Powell in "Scouting for Boys"

Two Drawings of Scouts in the role of Saint George.
From Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys (1908)


SAINT GEORGE AND SCOUTING FOR BOYS

In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell wrote of chivalry and the knights of old. He tried to show Scouts a new path to chivalry and honor. Saint George was the Patron Saint of England, and of the Knights of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in Europe. They were familiar subjects to most English boys when B-P was writing. Here is what he wrote:

ST. GEORGE

They (the knights of the Round Table) had as their patron saint St. George, because he was the only one of all the saints who was a horseman. He is the Patron Saint of cavalry from which the word Chivalry is derived, and the special saint of England.

He is also the Patron Saint of Boy Scouts everywhere. Therefore, all Scouts should know his story.

St. George was born in Cappadocia in the year AD 303. He enlisted as a cavalry soldier when he was seventeen, and soon became renowned for his bravery.

On one occasion he came to a city named Selem, near which lived a dragon who had to be fed daily with one of the citizens, drawn by lot.

The day St. George came there, the lot had fallen upon the king's daughter, Cleolinda. St. George resolved that she should not die, and so he went out and attacked the dragon, who lived in a swamp close by, and killed him.

When he was faced by a difficulty or danger, however great it appeared—even in the shape of a dragon—he did not avoid it or fear it, but went at it with all the power he could put into himself and his horse. Although inadequately armed for such an encounter, having merely a spear, he charged in, did his best, and finally succeeded in overcoming a difficulty which nobody had dared to tackle.

That is exactly the way in which a Scout should face a difficulty or danger, no matter how great or terrifying it may appear to him or how ill-equipped he may be for the struggle.

He should go at it boldly and confidently, using every power that he can to try to overcome it, and the probability is that he will succeed.

St. George's Day is April 23rd, and on that day all Scouts remind themselves of their Promise and of the Scout Law. Not that a Scout every forgets either, but on St. George's Day he makes a special point of thinking about them. Remember this when April 23rd comes round again.

SAINT GEORGE AND UKRAINIAN SCOUTING

To this day, Saint George continues as the Patron Saint of Scouting in many lands. His place in English Scouting is part of a national tradition. But here is an example from a distant land, Ukraine in Eastern Europe.

The illustration and the story are from "Ukrainian Scouting," the newsletter of Plast-Scouting in Ukraine.

ST.GEORGE PATRON SAINT OF UKRAINIAN SCOUTS, AND THE ANNUAL SPRING FESTIVAL

Saint George, a mythical saint from Cappadokia (in modern-day central Turkey), usually portrayed on a horse with his spear piercing a dragon, has been revered in Ukraine since the great prince of Kyiv, Volodymyr the Great, established Christianity as the official state religion of the Kyivan Empire in 988 AD. St. George churches and icons are very popular in Ukraine.

For Ukrainians, St.George symbolizes purity of spirit, selfless devotion to the protection of their country and boundless courage and valor in the service of goodness and purity.

No wonder then that Ukrainian scouts adopted St. George as their patron saint. The feast of St. George falls in May. That date is celebrated by the Ukrainian "plastuny" as both the St. George’s day and the Festival of Spring—the yearly beginning of the camping and hiking season.

A weekend in May is usually selected for the "Sviato Vesny" (the Spring Festival). Scouts go out into the nature, to their camping-sites, into woods, or mountains, where they set up their tents, hold sport events, cookouts, campfires, various competitions, exercises and various other activities.

Special events of this festival often include some very old (pre-Christian) dances (called "vesnianky" and "hahilky") — which, for many thousands of years, have been held in springtime in Ukraine, during the Christian era as part of the Easter ceremonies. They take their origin in ancient pagan worship of such deities of spring as: Lada, Yarylo, etc. Special music, songs, and various rituals accompany these dances, which underlie the essential unity of man and nature and go back to the ancient Ukrainian traditions of striving to preserve nature and natural environment.

This year, as the years past, scouts in Ukraine held their annual Spring Festival, honoring St. George, as an example to scouts of valor and good deeds.

ST.GEORGE AND HUNGARIAN SCOUTING

Magyar Cserkészszövetség, the Hungarian Scout Association (HSA), observes Saint George's Day as do Scouts of many lands. The drawing below is from their home page.

 
Drawing of Sankt Gyorgy,
Saint George,
Patron Saint of Scouting

Saint George in Russia

Saint George is the Patron Saint of Scouting. His feast day on April 23rd is celebrated by Scouts in many lands, including Russia. Icons of Saint George have been important in the Russian Orthodox Church since early times. These icons come from the Novgorod Icon Gallery of the Novgorod State University in Russia and date from the 12th to the 16th century.

Links to Information on Saint George

  St. George by Michael Collins MA (Oxon) MPhil. England's Patron Saint.
The UK Scout Association fact sheet on St. Georgeprovides some interesting background on his life and career.
St. George is the patron Saint of Scouting and of the original Russian Scouts. He appears on the emblem of the National Organization of Russian Scouts in Australia.and ORUR, the Russian Organization of Young Pathfinders.
The Breviary of Martin of Aragon, Spain, Catalonia 15th Century.From the Biblotheque Nationale de France. A beautiful illustration of St. George slaying the dragon.
Saint George's Church,second oldest at Prague Castle, belongs to the most important Czech romanesque monastic basilici. It was founded in the year 920 and in place of Slovanic services, by which Christianity was spread over the Czech State thus far, a Latin liturgy was used.
The life of Saint George is celebrated in the liturgy of many Christian Churches. In the Russian Orthodox Church he is venerated as the Great-Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, D.C. recounts his story in the Lives of the Saints.
The DPSG,Deutsche Pfadfinderschaft Sankt Georg -- German Saint George Scouting. This association is an independent group of Catholic Scouts in Germany.
The famous historical novel, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. One of the great stories of chivalry in medieval England. St. George is mentioned prominently as the patron of knighthood and chivalry.
the Most Noble Order of the Garter.This Order was founded in 1348 by King Edward III as a noble fraternity or Chapter consisting of the King, the Prince of Wales and 24 Knights Companion... It is the oldest order of knighthood in the western world. The insignia consist of the Collar and Badge Appendant known as the George, the Star, the Garter and the Sash with the Investment Badge, called the Lesser George.... The George is a gold and richly enamelled representation of St George on horseback slaying the Dragon. As stated, it is worn suspended from the Collar.
Windsor Castle. For over 900 years there has been a Castle at Windsor. William the Conqueror chose the site, high above the River Thames and on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground. This page is from the official website of the British Monarchy. It features a page on the restoration of the castle after the disastrous fire of November 20, 1992.
Charles Knight's Guide to Windsor Castle published c.1861. Windsor Castle is the principal residence of the British sovereigns, was built about 1070, and rebuilt in 1388, during the reign of Edward III. St. George's Chapel serves as a gathering place for the knights of the Garter whose insignia line the walls of the Chapel Choir.  
The Royal Military Order of Saint George was created Maximilian II Emmanuel, Elector of Bavaria and established by Papal Bull in 1728. It provided the Electors of Bavaria with "a means of honoring the nobility and recognizing distinguished military service."

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Last Modified: 9:36 AM on April 23, 2012