Sant Jordi

The Catalan Saint George - Sant Jordi

The Christian knight, protector of Barcelona

Sant Jordi, the Catalan equivalent of Saint George, is a very popular figure in Catalonia. He is the Patron Saint of the region, and Catalonia even have a Saint George Day - El Día de Sant Jordi, on April 23rd. On this day the tradition says that the girls have to give a book to the guys and the guys have to give roses to the girls.

The rose motif stems from the myth, since after Saint George killed the dragon, a rose came up where the dragon's blood was spilled. The book comes from the International Book Day: both Shakespeare and Cervantes died on April 23rd, both in 1616.

Catalonia and Saint George

If you visit the Barrio Gòtico of Barcelona especially one figure is present no matter where you are. In paintings, sculptures, fountains, etc. It is a knight with his sword high in the air fighting an enormous dragon. The knight is of course Saint George and in the Catalan version his name is Sant Jordi. This is the patron saint of Barcelona.

The Catalan Sant Jordi
According to myth a dragon terrified the small village Montblanc south-west of Barcelona. The dragon ate all the animals of Montblanc and when there were no animals left, if started to eat the people of the village. The village chose each year a person to satisfy the hunger of the evil dragon. When the name of the young princess came up Saint George came riding and killed the dragon with his sword in the last moment. This myth about Saint George can be found all over Europe (England, Georgia, Greece, etc. - Saint Goerge is the patron Saint of 15 europaen countries), but the Catalans have been drawn by the story to a higher degree than in most other places.

Día de Sant Jordi on April 23rd is at the same time the day of the rose (symbol of the blood of the dragon) and the day of International Book Day (both Cervantes and Shakespeare died on april 23rd in 1616.

Sant Jordi as Allegory
Maybe the reason why the story about Saint George is so important to the Catalans is that it is seen as an allegoria of their own history, the evil dragon being a symbol of Madrid/ the Central Power and the local knight the savior of the village.
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