|PIC1|The outgoing Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, has called upon the nation to mark St George’s Day today and to celebrate national identity.
The bishop, who was born in Pakistan, said that churches all over the country should ring their bells and fly the flag of St George. A service commemorating England’s patron saint will be held at Rochester Cathedral today.
He warned against the danger of “collective amnesia” of national identity being the price for multiculturalism. Dr Nazir-Ali also said that clergy should celebrate the “glorious heritage” of St George and offer up prayers for the nation and the armed forces, reports The Telegraph.
He said, “George became important for England because of his courage in refusing to deny his faith and in his acceptance of martyrdom. He came to personify the importance of conscience at precisely the time that people in England were beginning to emphasise the value of liberty.
“George is a Christian saint and these are characteristically Christian values and virtues. In reclaiming St George we are making sure that his name is not abandoned to a narrow nationalistic chauvinism.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who was born in Uganda has also previously said that St George’s Day should become a national holiday and called for a new form of English identity.
Currently St George is the only patron saint in the UK whose day is not officially recognised. St Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland is a holiday, St Andrew’s Day is a voluntary holiday in Scotland and the Welsh Assembly has said that St David’s Day should be a holiday.
Nazir-Ali calls for St George's Day celebrations
Published 23 April 2009 | Jennifer Gold