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3274 1823

England Flag

Until George came on the scene, England's badge was a white cross on blue, but this was replaced by St George's red cross - today the central element in Britain's Union Jack. (The white cross on blue was adopted by France, and is today [with white fleurs-de-lis added] the flag of French-speaking Quebec.)

The cross of St George wasn't only a flag, though. While every knight and nobleman had his coat of arms, not all had a livery to dress their men-at-arms in, and soldiers without livery would wear the country's cross as a surcoat (cloth covering for their armour) when fighting for the king: so the English soldiers marched in white surcoats with red crosses or, if in livery, with white armbands bearing a red cross (very different in meaning from today's Red Cross emblem). One wonders if the "red cross army" might have inspired Onward Christian Soldiers.

While the combined crosses of St George, St Andrew and "St Patrick" have replaced the plain cross of St George as Britain's national flag, the red cross is still the proper flag to fly from an English church. The red cross also finds its way into the coats of arms of Anglican churches across England and around the world. The compass rose emblem of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa has at its centre a silver (or white) shield bearing this cross and the letters CPSA; and the arms of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, too, are based on St George's cross. Legend or no, St George has left his mark on the English-speaking world.

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