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Saint George as a symbol of English identity
Diarmaid MacCulloch sets out to explore the idea of Englishness, and approaches this by investigating the life of Saint George, known by the English as their patron saint. It shows how history reveals that Saint George was born in what is now known as Turkey, became a soldier in the Roman army and was eventually killed because he objected to the persecution of the Christians. Saint George is respected not only by the English, but by Christians in Israel, Greece and Russia and also by Muslims.
First broadcast on BBC2 in March 2012 (and on the BBC Learning Zone in May 2012) as part of the series How God made the English.
Before showing the clip, ask students to note down the qualities they think are important for someone to have in order to be regarded as inspirational. Talk about these ideas as a class and rank order the suggestions. Ask students to note the qualities attributed to Saint George in the clip. Ask them a) How does Saint George compare to their list of qualities? b) Did anything surprise them in the clip? What was it and why? c) If they had to choose a new patron saint for England, who would they choose and why?
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