The Origins and Traditions of St George's Day..A Celebration Of England.

Songbird BStarred Page By Songbird B, 14th Mar 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1_tv1enc/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Holidays & Celebrations

April the 23rd is St George's Day here in England. A day to celebrate everything English, and to acknowledge the Patron Saint of our country..but how did it all begin? Let me take you to a distant land of Dragons and Knights in shining armour, and fair damsels in distress..

St George's Day and British Patriotism..

'There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England'.
Sir Winston Churchill

On Tuesday 23rd of April 2013, celebrations and parades will be held throughout towns and cities to celebrate the life of St George, he of the Slayer of Dragons legend, but we are only one of many who celebrate this Patron Saint across the world..He is also acknowledged as the Patron Saint of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice..This Saint really did get around!
Nowadays, in the UK, April the 23rd is not recognised as a Feast Day nor a Bank Holiday, but this was not always the case..

In 1415, St George's Day was declared a national holiday and Feast day in England, and remained so until the end of the 18th Century, but gradually diminished over time until it ceased to be recognised as such.
There are still strong protests being heard to this day that it should be reinstated as a recognised Bank Holiday and celebratory day for England, just as St David's Day for Wales, St Andrew's Day for Scotland, and of course not forgetting St Patrick's Day for Ireland.

Although we now live in a multi-cultural society here in Britain and have done so for many years, there is a belief that we should still honour and celebrate England, and all she stands for.
To lose this, would be to lose our identity as a nation.. We are only a small island, among so many giants out there across the oceans, but we are a proud and loyal breed of people, no matter what skin colour or religious creed.
Surely we too have the right to stand tall and proud, and raise our voices up to the heavens to celebrate and acknowledge St George's Day, the very essence, of being quintessentially English and all that comes with it, including the stories of old..

So let me take you back to a time of myths, fair maidens, and chivalrous Knights upon horseback. A time long past when foul Dragons terrorised the land, and how our Patron Saint George came to be..

Who Was Saint George..? The Origin..

It is always difficult to separate the myths from actual events, but it was said that Saint George was born of Christian parentage during the 3rd Century in Cappadocia, in what is now known as Turkey.
His father had been in the Roman Army, under the rule of Emperor Diocletian and it came as no surprise that George followed in his late father's footsteps at the tender age of 17, and joined the ranks, swiftly making his way up to the position of Tribunus Militum (Colonel or Second in Command).
It was said that he was a tall, handsome, fair-haired young man, with a great sense of dignity and fairness, and well liked and respected by all who met him. Emperor Diocletian had high hopes for this favourable young officer, never realising that George's death would be the blood on his hands within a short space of time.

When general unrest began to cause friction within his city, resulting in the rise of Christianity, Diocletian wanted it subdued, as Roman Paganism was still the accepted face of religion.
He ordered the mass destruction of Christian churches, and the arrest of every Christian citizen, stripping them of their possessions and rights. George could not stand by and tolerate this injustice, and spoke in their defence, enraging the Emperor further. However much Diocletian tried to bribe his young favoured Colonel with land and wealth if he would turn his back on his faith, George stood steadfast, finally resigning his office altogether.
Angered, the Emperor had him thrown into prison and tortured beyond human endurance, but George would not renounce his belief of his Christian faith.

St George was finally beheaded in Nicomedia at the city wall on the 23rd of April 303A.D. but his legend would live on..
George's blood was the first of many Christians who would stain Diocletian's hands before his death, including his own wife, Alexandria, who had converted to Christianity having been so impressed by St George's courage and bravery in the face of such brutal tyranny by her husband.
St George, Patron Saint Of England, came to stand for Charity, Chivalry and Courage which is still recognised and honoured today. It is quite a legacy to leave behind.

So Where Did The Dragon Come In..? The Legend..

Long after St George's death, tales of his courage and bravery still abounded, being passed from mouth and mouth and town to town until it reached legendary proportions. Pope Gelasius had St George canonised in the year 494A.D. stating that he was "One of the few whose name would be revered among mortal beings, but whose acts are only truly known by God alone".
St George became the Patron Saint of England in 1415A.D.

Many legends, sung and embellished by troubadours passing through the towns began, including the one he is most famous for of saving a fair maiden from being eaten by a dragon who was terrorising the town of Silene, Libya.
The township, so legend dictates, had been at the mercy of this mighty dragon, they tried to appease with sacrifices of sheep to keep his hunger and rage at bay, but when they ran out of sheep and cattle, human souls were chosen to perish to save the town, including that of the lovely Cleodolinda, princess and daughter of the local King.
St George was passing through the town when he stopped and enquired what was happening, and once informed, declared that he would destroy this mighty beast, if the King, and all the town folk would accept Christianity and give their souls to God. Once agreed, St George mounted his trusty steed, rode out to the Dragon's lair and commenced battle, resulting in the mighty beast being slain. Such legends soon grow and take form.

The truth is alas, not quite so dramatic.. Often, symbolism was used to tell such tales of bravery and chivalrous deeds. Just as St Patrick banishing all the snakes from Ireland, was a symbolism for driving out the old pagan religion, so too was the mighty dragon that St George slay. It was a symbolistic metaphor of good overcoming evil. Old Pagan beliefs being overturned by the rise of Christianity. Tyranny being defeated by the heart of a good and courageous man.

A light-hearted animation of St George slaying the dragon..well almost!

The Knights Garter, the George Cross Medal and St George's Flag.

In 1348, King Edward III established the Knights Of The Garter. It was the Oldest and Highest British Order of Chivalry and St George was adopted as its Patron Saint. The Order consisted of the King and twenty-four Knights of outstanding military leadership, and is still part of our royal heritage today.
The George Cross was established in 1940 in World War II, by King George VI as a reward for displaying outstanding acts of civilian valour, including members of the Armed Forces in the United Kingdom

Announcing the new award, the King said:

"In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution".
(Extract taken from Wikipedia).

St George's Flag, instantly recognisable by the red cross of the martyr against a white background, is actually the flag of England and was adopted by Richard the Lion Heart.
The flag was originally created in the 12th century to be worn as tunics to distinguish the fighting forces on the battlefields. It is also part of the British Union Flag today, often referred to as the Union Jack.
I have only touched very lightly on these three symbols that St George is associated with, and should you wish to read further, please check out the links I have supplied.

St George is Patron Saint of Soldiers, Archers, Cavalry, Chivalry, Farms and farmworkers, Riders and Saddler's. Recently he has also been adopted as Patron Saint of the Scout Movement in England and around the world too.. What a busy Patron Saint he is indeed!

Traditions and Celebrations of St George's Day..

Due to St George's Day not being recognised as an official Bank Holiday, or Feast day now, traditions to celebrate this courageous and chivalrous soul can be a little thin on the ground here in the UK.
Some towns and cities do hold St George's Parades, along with re-enactments of Dragons and Knights on steeds and the great battle between good overcoming evil.
The red Rose is also worn as a tradition to celebrate April 23rd. One of the fables tell that where the dragon was slain, droplets of blood fell upon the ground, and from it grew the red Rose..
Some celebrate this day by cooking traditional English fayre such as Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings, Beef Wellington, Fish & Chips, Beef Stew or Shepherd's Pie, all popular dishes throughout the UK.
Events such as Morris dancing or Mummers Plays are also organised to celebrate our Patron Saint of England.

The sad footnote to this section is in today's world, with so many different political factions at loggerheads with each other in the UK, some now use this celebratory day to promote their own ends.
Although St George was not English, had probably never even stepped onto English soil, we still acknowledge and celebrate him as our Patron Saint. All Politics aside, maybe this day should be marked as a celebration of England, a small island that still feels proud of its own identity, and not as a tool to promote political hatred and discord among the very people who populate her.

There'll Always Be An England..

Just as the national pride swells in the heart of the Irish, Scottish and the Welsh, let us raise a toast to everything English..This green and pleasant country of ours, with its unpredictable weather, unique colloquial accents, long traffic jams and winding country lanes..yet she has a certain charm that stirs something deep within the heart. As a country, we know we are far from perfect, but as a nation, we can and should feel proud of our achievements.
This was never more so than during the 2012 Olympics held in the UK which united our country and showed patriotism at its very best. I think if St George had been here, he would have been pretty proud of us, don't you..?

This poem from the English poet Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) sums this much loved country of ours up so well:

"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven".

("The Soldier" - 1914)

Perhaps as a final note, brief though it may be, a line from the English Poet Charles Churchill (1731-1764) that goes to the heart of every English soul:

"Be England what she will. With all her faults, she is my country still".

(Extracts courtesy of we are the english.com )

Credits and Acknowledgements:

Thanks to youtube and all contributors for embedded videos.
All images courtesy of Wikimedia commons.
Thanks to wearetheenglish.com for extracts from the poetry of Rupert Brooke and Charles Churchill.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the extract of King George VI speech.


Related links from
Songbird B:
The Origins and Traditions of St Patrick's Day.
The Origins and Traditions of Mothering Sunday.
The Origins and Traditions of Valentines Day.
February 29th..A Ladies Privilege to Propose.
Remember, Remember the 5th of November.

Why not join us here at Wikinut and join our community?

Tags

23Rd April, Christian, Christianity, Dragon, Dragon Fable, England, Mythological Stories, Nation, National Pride, Origin And Traditions, Patriotism, Roman, Saint, Sainthood, Songbird B, Songbird B Articles, St George, St Georges Day Celebrations

Meet the author

author avatar Songbird B
Hi there! I am Songbird B, and I am a semi-pro female Jazz vocalist. I have a huge passion for Jazz music, and I love writing Poetry, which I have done all my life. I am very Spiritual in my beliefs, and love Photography, Music and Garden Design....I...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Terry Trainor
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Brilliant work Songbird a well deserved star and a great read. Thank you my dear friend.

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author avatar Songbird B
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Ah bless you Terry, I so appreciate seeing you here on my page my friend. Even as a Brit, I learned things I never knew researching this article for St George's Day! You live and learn as they say!! Great to see you..\0/x

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Ditto what Terry wrote. This is an exquisitely written and meticulously researched article. Just fantastic, Songbird. Thank you.

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author avatar Songbird B
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Steve, I know that Carol said she wanted to read this when I had completed it.. It has been such a learning curve for me and also having to tread delicately that no political slant could be made of it.. I do love my country and all she stands for, even if I don't always understand her! lol..Bless you for looking in on me dear friend..Hugs to you \0/xxx

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
19th Apr 2013 (#)

You put a lot of work into this. I was not familiar with St George's Day, but thank you for this trip to the land of knights and dragons. Added to Google + (facebook wont let me sign in for some reason..)

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author avatar Songbird B
19th Apr 2013 (#)

St George's Day is not even something that we here in my country are all that familiar with Mark, which is so sad in some ways. There are still factions fighting to make this a public holiday again here in the UK, and if it were, I'm sure so many more would be aware of what St George represented. I hope that I have captured all the very best of the UK in this article, it has certainly had blood, sweat and tears in the making of it!! LOL..Thank you so much for adding it to Google+ for me my friend. I so appreciate that..Thanks for such fast moderation,and the Star merit you graced it with. \0/x

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author avatar johnnydod
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Brilliant Bev,
We should all know more about our patron saint....
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!'

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author avatar Songbird B
19th Apr 2013 (#)

From a fellow Brit, I so appreciate you looking in on me Johnny and adding such a great quote from Shakespeare. I was tempted to use that quote too, but I was won over my our Mr Winston Churchill instead..lol. Happy St George's Day on the 23rd my friend! \0/x

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author avatar richardpeeej
19th Apr 2013 (#)

A great read Bev, and a very interesting story. Although I have been living in England for 35 years now, I still consider myself Welsh as I was born there. On paper I suppose I could be dual nationality though my heart is still in Wales. Well done again for a rightly deserved merit for all the research that has gone into writing your great piece of work :-)

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author avatar Songbird B
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Bless you Rich... I hope that you enjoyed reading this even though your welsh roots still tug at your heart my friend..I hope for those who do not know England, I have represented it well and how I see it every day through my eyes. Thank you for looking in on me dear heart..\0/x

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Good deal of time and energy and zeal....
Well researched article. Thank you for knowledge sharing Songbird.

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Bless you for looking in on me Md..I so appreciate you visiting my page..\0/x

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author avatar Mariah
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Fantastic article bev now I know all about st George what a great man he was.
So perfectly put together that must have taken A lot of time and hard work, but the result speaks for itself. Very well done my friend and a much deserved star rating

Mariah

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Ah thanks Mariah..I can't deny that this was a hard slog as sourcing appropriate videos and links took best part of three days, but I am pleased with the end result..Hope you enjoyed the music and video images too.. We really do have a great country for all its faults..Lovely to see you dear friend\0/x

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author avatar Delicia Powers
20th Apr 2013 (#)

What a beautiful page...there's a lot of heart in this...amazing Songbird thank you...

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

I was born and raised in the UK Delicia, and I do have a deep love for my country..Putting this article together reminded me of why..So good to see your smiling face on my page my friend..\0/x

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author avatar poetic2984
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Very wonderful as always. Thanks for your comment. Been to England last year was in Kent, really enjoyed the time there see those historical places

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Hello Poetic..Kent is very beautiful, and we are blessed with our countryside and the natural beauty of nature around us here in the UK. I so hoped that you enjoyed your stay in England my friend..Thank you for looking in on me..Just trying to catch up on your work too..\0/x

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
20th Apr 2013 (#)

A labor of love, dear Songbird. Here in Asia, we all know of St. George, St Patrick, St Joseph, but I did not know the legends behind these and why they are celebrated. What an effort on your part too with videos and images so well researched. I feel like stuck in the starting block when I read yours! I also think of present lifestyles where selfishness and greed rule - but I do hope there is a method in this madness and a true hero will be found to unite us and see reason! siva

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Sivar, I know I am always blessed when I see you on my page dear friend..I am so glad you know have heard of St George! Many English are hardly aware of him over here which I think is so sad.. This was indeed a labour of love Sivar, and I wanted it to be clear that no political factions could promote this for their own ends. This is about a little island that has a unique and quirky style all its own, and I for one, celebrate that fact.. I fear your articles leave me in the starting block when it comes to great insight and wisdom, both of which you are richly blessed with dear friend.. Thank you for such a great comment \0/x

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author avatar C.D. Moore
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Amazing article song bird. Great writing ehanced by the perfect videos. I love england too. Must be in the DNA.

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Ah thank you C.D..Even I learned a lot from researching this article, and the videos were the perfect songs to go with it..I think I know all the lyrics now I listened to that many versions! LOL! We had a lovely Spring day here today, England at her best..Got rain coming back in tomorrow..typical! Thanks for such a lovely post and for looking in on me my friend..\0/x

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
21st Apr 2013 (#)

brilliant this Bev...such scrupulous research and pics...am so proud to be a Brit...thank you so much for this...

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author avatar Songbird B
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Hi Carolan..I don't think I ever realised just how proud I was to be a Brit until I researched this article. For all our faults, we are a stoic breed of souls here in the UK and as last year's 2012 Olympics showed, we are a nation to be proud of. Happy St George's Day on the 23rd my friend! \0/x

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author avatar Shirley Shuler
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Excellent article, Songbird with great pictures. I learned something here today, thank you :)).

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author avatar Songbird B
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Shirley, even I learnt so much more than I knew when I researched for for this article.. Hope you enjoyed! \0/x

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author avatar goldsongbird
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

My Friend my dear dear friend I am in tears,this is a fantastic piece.I ran wild over my London as I have said many times and the Thames is in my blood.I travelled over England as a Girl Guide and a caravan camper. England is my soul.As a school girl we celebrated St.George and Empire days and loved every minuite.Maybe as Knitting and Needlework lessons are returning to the schools maybe our pride in our country will.On this momentas day Happy St. George`s to all that read this magnificent work

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author avatar goldsongbird
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Oh did I tell you that I love being your friend the same as St.George you will NEVER be forgotten xx

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author avatar Songbird B
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Oh my friend, what a wonderful post! I am so delighted that you enjoyed this, and how wonderful to find you back here on my page. It was a lot of research, but I learned so much on my journey too..On this sunny St George's Day here in England, I bless you for such a wonderful and supportive comment. If ever I needed a reason to write this article about the pride we should have in our own country, you are it goldsongbird.. Bless you dear heart for taking the time to look in on me..Hugs to you \0/xxx

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author avatar Carol
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

A very interesting post that fully deserves a star. Well done!

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author avatar Songbird B
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Carol. have been catching up on your work too! Happy St George's Day my friend.\0/x

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author avatar Kingwell
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

My friend, I loved this from beginning to end. My ancestors came to Newfoundland from England and of of course I had heard of St. George but only as associated with slaying the dragon. I have learned a lot here today. You might be interested in knowing that the Provinicial

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author avatar Kingwell
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

I didn't finish my friend. I wanted to tell you that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador still has a holiday on St. George's Day, though no celebrations are held.

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author avatar Songbird B
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

I have loved your series of the history of the Colonies too Kingwell, and I am so pleased to see you here on my page..Thank you for your post, and nice to know that the English roots of your country still acknowledge St George. It is much like an ordinary day here, as few celebrate it which is a great pity..Maybe in time it will change.\0/x.

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author avatar richardpeeej
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thinking of your poem today Bev on the 23rd April...Hope everyone has enjoyed St George's Day today !!! :-)

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author avatar Songbird B
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Rich..Been a glorious day here weather-wise, St George must have smiled on us today being our Patron Saint. Lovely to see you dear heart..\0/x

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author avatar poetic2984
4th May 2013 (#)

Wonderful and St. George the patron saint of my church- Hope all is well and thanks for u comment

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author avatar Songbird B
4th May 2013 (#)

You are so welcome Poetic! I always enjoy reading your poetry my friend and your clear-sighted look on life. Thanks for dropping by on my page dear friend..It really is appreciated..\0/x

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author avatar poetic2984
11th May 2013 (#)

It is always so uplifting to see your comment and to see you again,as I mentioned some time before I was in England thought I would get a chance to see you and hear you sing -

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author avatar Songbird B
11th May 2013 (#)

Hello again my friend..How great to see you, and yes, I am trying to catch up on your poems that I have missed.. Just sent you a private message with a link if you wanted to hear my music..Hope you enjoy! Bless you for looking in on me..\0/x

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author avatar poetic2984
11th May 2013 (#)

Yes i will check the music, I did have a good time there the History I was in Kent see the Cathedral the Chaucer's tales, the Beckett , even went to London the hustle and bustle Buckingham's Palace, the West Minister's as well as St. Paul's Cathedral really felt like staying- Like the walking around most definitely will go back

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author avatar Songbird B
11th May 2013 (#)

I am so glad you enjoyed your stay in my country my friend..Sounds like you had a wonderful time with all that sight -seeing too! lol..\0/x

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author avatar vpaulose
11th May 2013 (#)

Star deserving post. Thank you. Interesting tribute. Thank u also my sister Songbird for the encouraging comments and concern.

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author avatar Songbird B
12th May 2013 (#)

I think we have both been away for a while dear Paul, as life takes us in other directions, but it is good to see you back here at Wikinut my friend..\0/x

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author avatar Georgia Badovinac
28th May 2013 (#)

Wonderful... I learned something new!

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author avatar Songbird B
28th May 2013 (#)

Thank you for looking in on me Georgia..Hope that you found it interesting..\0/x

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author avatar vellur
5th Jun 2013 (#)

Very interesting and informative read. Thank you for sharing this,

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you vellur for looking in on me and leaving a comment..It is much appreciated \0/x

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author avatar wonder
1st Jul 2013 (#)

I knew only a little of St. George, now this is a lovely share, a complete one.

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