The worship of Saint George
April 23rd is a special day for Genoa and Liguria!
Here, as in various parts of the world, in fact, is the celebration day of San Giorgio: heroic and mysterious saint, the popular tradition depicts him as the knight facing the dragon, symbol of the intrepid faith that triumphs over the strength of the evil one.
Genoa celebrates it in the symbol of its flag with the proud red cross while the village of Portofino celebrates him as its patron.
The use of the flag of San Giorgio, symbol of the Republic of Genoa, has been attested since at least 1113: in the Middle Ages the flag of the Saint accompanied and protected the soldiers engaged in the Crusades. For many years the flag represented the protective banner of Genoese ships from the attacks of Muslims: shortly after this pushed the powerful England to ask for its use “on loan” to be able to hoist it even on its ships!
But where does the cult of this Saint come from?
His name derives from the Greek ‘gheorgós’ that means ‘farmer’. His figure is shrouded in mystery, for centuries scholars have tried to establish who he really was, when and where he lived: his cult, so widespread throughout the centuries, gave rise to many perplexities, due to the lack of certain and proven information on his life, so much so that in 1969 the Church downgraded him in the liturgy to an optional memorial.
San Giorgio is considered the patron saint of knights, gunsmiths, soldiers, scouts, fencers, cavalry, archers, saddlers; moreover it is invoked against plague, leprosy and syphilis, poisonous snakes, head diseases, and particularly in the countries on the slopes of Vesuvius, against the eruptions of the volcano!
Everywhere in our beautiful Liguria the flag of the Maritime Republic of Genoa still sways in the wind!
written by Francesca Assandri (Dafne Viaggi)