St George and the chapel

There are many mysteries surrounding the identity of St George, but the most commonly believed is that he was a soldier in the Roman Army, part of the imperial guard of Emperor Diocletian. In 302 AD, Diocletian ordered that every Christian in the army be arrested and sacrificed to the pagan gods. George refused to renounce his faith, and was eventually martyred. He was buried in Lydda, in modern day Israel.

Stories of St George were brought back by the Crusaders in the 12th century, and during the reign of Edward III, he became venerated as the patron saint of England. When Edward founded the College in 1348, he dedicated the chapel to St George, the Virgin Mary and St Edward.

The College held several relics reputed to be from St George, including an arm, two fingers, a piece of his skull, and his heart. The latter was given by Emperor Sigismund on his creation as a Garter Knight in 1416. It was housed in a special monstrance which is described in the College inventory of 1534:

Item a monstrans of sylver gylt and seynt George is heart stondyng in golde closyd in byrall yn the myddst yn the Vpper parte the image off the crucyfyx, vnder that the image off our Lady and the image off our Savyoure.

Eleanor (Assistant Archivist)

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.