Will St Edmund slay St George?

Friday, 29 September, 2006

Bury St Edmunds could become the centre of historic national celebrations- if calls to reinstate an Anglo Saxon patron saint are answered.
The We are Backing St Edmund campaign wants to replace St George as patron saint of England with the murdered king who has intimate connections with the Bury landscape.
Former patron saint of England until the 13th century, King Edmund was killed by invading Vikings in 869AD at Bradfield St Clare after he refused to become a pagan. His body was moved in 903AD to where Bury is today.
Clive Paine, a Bury historian backing the campaign, said: "St Edmund has all the qualities of a saint- nobility and bravery- and he died for his Christian values.
"St George is a foreigner and most of the stories about him, such as the slaying of the dragon, are spurious lies to make him appear chivalrous.
"There are no added myths to St Edmund and, most importantly, he has a town named after him, which could become the focus of national celebrations if he is made patron saint again."
If campaigners have their way, St Edmund day on November 20 could become a national day of celebration.
They say it would not cost much to change England's flag over to his symbol of three crowns, instead of the Cross of St George.
The Very Reverend Neil Collings, of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: "We are delighted to hear about the campaign because St Edmund put Bury St Edmunds on the map.
"Edmund was an inspirational figure, who gave his life for his beliefs."
"But I do doubt if St George can ever be dislodged by another patron saint."
Bury's MP David Ruffley is presenting petitions to the House of Commons and Downing Street asking for the re-instatemnt of the town's patron saint.
He said: "In my eyes, Edmund is the one and only patron saint of England and it is high time he took his rightful place again."