Friday, April 28, 2023

Dashed Off XIV

 time immemorial (A) | memorial time (B)
time lost (C) |  time reconstructed (D) | testimony unto living generation (E) | living generation (F)
time beyond direct contact of this generation (G) | time of people who experienced or knew those who did (H)
--> (C), (D), and part of (E) belong to (A). (B) includes part of (E) and also (F). (G) includes (A) and part of (B); (B) includes (H).

rational justification by immemorial possession (cf. Reid)

Many people read Thomas Reid only superficially not capturing his full import because parts of his arguments are carried by his allusions and not just what he explicitly says. His figures of speech, for instance, tend to be more substantively significant than those of Hume or Smith, and the same is true of his quotations.

jural vs nonjural mission

The Trinitarian missions are hypermoral, hyperjural, hypersacral. In them the Son and the Spirit are related to us with infinite moral, jural, and sacred authority.

the three functions of a general council: dogma, reform, union
--> all general councils do all three, but (e.g.,) some merely reaffirm dogmatic definitions of other councils, focusing on reform.

charisms as architectural elements in the Church as Temple

indirect defenses of induction
(1) pragmatic vindication
-- (a) in ordinary life
-- (b) in special inquiry
(2) certainty of simple enumeration; therefore probability of simple non-enumerative induction
(3) hypothesis construction
(4) direct analogy; therefore relative indifferenc
(5) presumption of fixed laws (uniformity of nature)
(6) inevitability

requirements of adequate reform:
(1) appropriate authority
(2) acting as the appropriate authority
(3) in accordance with a just end
(4) using means that are feasible,
(5) appropriate to the end,
(6) and adequate to the end,
(7) in a manner that is itself just.

(1) Peter is given the responsibility to confirm the brethren and feed the sheep.
(2) These are ongoing needs, not less needed by those who followed the Apostles.
(3) Therefore there must be some means, by way of Peter, adequate to fulfilling these ends.
(4) Given the ongoing nature of the needs, a succession is required that is instrumental to Peter.

illumination and completion as the two general aspects of magisterium

the seat of Moses (Mt 23:1-3) // the chair of Peter

Mt 16:5-12 Beware the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadduceees
Mt 16:13-20 'On this rock I build my church and the gates of hell will not stand against it.' Peter given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, so what he binds on earth is bound in heaven and what he looses on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Mt 16:21-28 Jesus begins to speak of His death and resurrection.
Mt 22:15-45 The Pharisees and Sadducees try to trap Jesus
Mt 23:1-3 Pharisees and scribes sit on the seat of Moses but do not practice what they preach.
Mt 23:12-14 The Pharisees shut the kingdom of heaven against men, neither going in themselves nor letting others go in.
Mt 23:27-28 The scribes and Pharisees are whitewashed tombs.
Mt 23:29-36 The scribes and Pharisees will not escape hell.
Mt 23:37-39 Jesus speaks obliquely of his death

Eph 5:26
by the laver of water: matter
in the word of life : form

"the word comes to the element and the sacrament is made." Augustine

NB that Reid takes Newton's regulae philosophandi to be maxims of common sense.
Reid's use fo Protestant scripture metaphors for 'the way of observation and experience'.

"Useful discoveries are sometimes indeed the effect of superior genius, but more frequently they are the birth of time and of accidents." Reid

the thirst for principles that may direct us in the exertion of our powers

the natural language of vocal modulation, gesture, and feature

Most persuasion occurs against a background of shared values. The difficult questions are all concerned with change of background.

"The belief of a material world is older, and of more authority, than any principles of philosophy." Reid

The very concept of an idea has reference to a mind and to an object.

the Church as distinguishable by its history
the Church as distinguished by its spiritual possessions
the Church as distinguished by its mission, activities, and work

the threefold aspect of the priest's role in confession: elder, doctor, judge
-- all of these are 'on behalf of' roles by which the priest represents Christ

the Virgin as the exemplar, role model, of prayer

Satisfaction cannot be ignored in penance as a sacrament because the satisfaction begins in the confesison and absolution, and it is the sacrament that makes the satisfaction specifically the kind of satisfaction it is.

Christ intercedes for us not only in His immediate person but also in His sacramental person.

Suger's recognition of light as an architectural element, a part of the materials for the building

logizesthai, imputo Ps 32:2; Rm 4:4, 8, 13

(1) God is bishop (Magn 3:1)
Jesus is bishop (Rom 9:11)
(2) pray to God (Eph 10:1; Rom 1:1)
pray to Jesus (Eph 20:1; Rom 4:2)
(3) strive for God (Rom 4:1)
strive for Jesus (Rom 5:3)
(4) Spirit from God (Phil 7:1)
Spirit from Jesus (Eph 17:2)

Rom 4:3-5// 1 Macc 2:51-52

Righteousness is credited not on the deed but on the faith that does it.

The death of a martyr is a prayer of salvation for others.

1 Macc 2:51-63 as pictures of our own salvation

Lv 7:18 imputation as related to sacrifice, as connectin sacrifice and the one for whom it is made
Ps 106:30-31 imputation for righteousness to Phineas

forgiveness as breaking of imputation

Philemon: if he has wronged you *or* owes you anything [note that these are distinct], charge that to my account.

The prayer of the Church ultimately proceeds from and with the prayer of Christ.

ecologies of revenue

love as pre-merit

number as that which can be approximated in a well-defined way

'pointillist' arguments structured wholly out of examples

efficient cause redundantia vs formal cause redundantia
redundantia as imitating divine missions
that which receives the overflow as gaining a new relativity from the source of the overflow

Fewer hierarchies, fewer rights.

what is required for human dignity, what conforms to human dignity, what is useful to human dignity

Kant says of Baumgarten that he was "sharp-sighted (in little things) but not far-sighted (in big ones)".

natural religion as setting the seal on morality (Kant)

preservation of oneself as a physical, as a rational, as a moral, as a jural, and as a sacral being

To merit for another is the heart of romance.

ST 2-1.114: Reward is bestowed by means of merit; reward is the term of merit. Where there is justice simply, there is merit and reward simply. In other cases, with respect to potential parts of justice, there is no merit simply speaking but only relatively insofar as the potential part has something of justice. There can be no equality between Creator and creature; thus there is no simple merit or reward. However, there can be merit or reward only relatively insofar as God gives the power whose action is rewarded by God. We merit eternal lifely secondarily by free will; insofa ras we do, this is by congruous merit and principally by the grace of the Holy Spirit, which thus far is condign merit. Merit is chiefly attributed to charity.

Purgatory is the completion of satisfaction.

Nothing in the regular practice of the Church is done in vain.

"Whatever remission is granted in the court of the Church hodls good in the court of God." Aquinas

We may share the good of others by union or by imputation.

'Baccalaureus' originally meant the squire of a knight.

earned degrees
customary degrees
-- jure officii (ad eundem)
-- jure dignitatis
honorary degrees

titular colonelcies and admiralties arise from the militia authority of states

Victory-titles arose as as-if feudal titles, but instead of a fief it was granted in chief of a battlefield.

radication of intellectual virtue: clarity

incentives as values with specific practical saliences

the external world as transcendental deduction from the possibility of kinaesthetic habits

the overflow of spiritual culture into material culture

focus points for large-scale unification of people
(1) foe
(2) scapegoat
(3) sacred
-- arguably all possible cases of people being unified on a large scale are variants of these three.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Raymond Chandler in Middle Earth

 I thought this was actually fairly well done; click through for the full thing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Actual and Potential Infinite

 Bill Vallicella has had some interesting discussions recently (here and here) about actual and potential infinites. I think that the confusions that often arise on these subjects usually come from terminological issues -- that is, 'potential' and 'actual' get used a lot of different ways here. A few thoughts, allowing for the fact that Aristotle's introduction of the distinction is somewhat tangled and in parts difficult to interpret.

Aristotle's terminology is easy to misinterpret; one could take 'potential infinite' to mean something 'not infinite but able to be'. This is a common popular mistake. In Aristotle the term is explicitly connected to 'potential being', and Aristotle does not regard potential being as non-being, but as a particular (and secondary) way of being. That is, 'potential being' is being just as 'actual being' is. Likewise 'potential infinite' is intended to identify a particular way of being infinite. It is not an indefinite finite, but an infinite of 'potential' kind. It is an infinite, in potency.

If you actualized the potential of a potential infinite, you get an actual infinite, the completion of the potential infinite. If the potential infinite were just an indefinite finite, its completion would just be a definite finite, not the actual infinite.

This is all complicated because in English (and several other modern languages) words like 'actual' often have meanings like 'genuine', 'not illusory', 'not fake'. These meanings are not in view in Aristotle's distinction; in the colloquial sense of 'actually', the potential infinite is actually infinite.

In the context of mathematics, we can somewhat crudely put Aristotle's idea like this. A mathematical object is actual when it is constructed by mathematical means, in both whole and part (cf. Met 1051a); if it is not constructed, but merely possible, it is potential, not actual. If we take the two kinds of potential infinite, the one that is infinite by division and the one that is infinite by addition, you could only make them actual infinites if you exhaustively performed the operation that gives them infinite -- division in the case of the divisible infinite and addition in the case of the additive infinite. None of us, when we talk about infinities in mathematics, actually do the complete constructions; we indirectly prove that they must be infinite, and call it a day, leaving the infinite potential. More precisely, for Aristotle, something counts as infinite if it is 'that for which it is always possible to take something beyond it' or 'one thing after another always coming to be'. If you have actually done this for every case, if all of it has come to be', you have an actual infinite; otherwise, you have a potential infinite.

Aristotle famously rejects actual infinites (at least in the proper and unqualified sense of the term); the resolution to Zeno's paradoxes is that the points in them are not actually constructed, and thus not actualized as points, and therefore the infinity is only potential and not actual. But Aristotle doesn't deny that it is infinite. This is why Aristotle says that the infinite in a way is and in a way is not; it's something that he thinks is only found as a kind of potentiality -- but he thinks we genuinely do find cases that require us to recognize that potential as an infinite potential. It has become popular in some parts of academia to consider Aristotle a finitist, but he himself explicitly rejects this by insisting on preserving and using a concept of the infinite even while he is rejecting that any such infinite could be actualized. Indeed, he himself says (Phys 206b) that you can say that the potential infinite is actual in a sense, namely, in the sense that you can say 'There are Olympic Games' even if the Olympic Games are not all going on at the time, or even if none of them are. This is why, in fact, he doesn't have a problem with the eternity of the world -- it's 'actually' infinite, in the sense of always going on, but it is not an actual infinite, in the sense that every moment is 'constructed' so as to be an actually complete infinite.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Aftermaths of Ecumenical Councils I

 When we talk about ecumenical councils, we generally talk about the councils themselves, but it is also interesting to consider their aftermaths. For one reason, it quickly cures any notion that ecumenical councils provide clean and clear resolutions to disputes. For instance, some people seem to be surprised that Catholics are still working through the problems of the Second Vatican Council, with no definite end in sight; but in fact we shouldn't expect otherwise. I've previously noted that the Council of Constance, while solving the Western Schism, creates the conditions for almost all of the problems that we associate with the Renaissance papacy and the precedents it set are at least significant factors in why Protestants could not be reconciled much later. The Council of Constance also had the literally insane idea of governing the Church by an ecumenical council every ten years; given that the aftermath of an ecumenical council even under ideal circumstances takes longer than a decade to work through, the mind boggles at the chaos that such a plan would have caused if it had turned out to be even remotely practicable.

I've thought for a while of doing a series on the aftermaths of ecumenical councils. I don't think I'll be doing it like clockwork, but sporadically, at least, I'll put up posts on the subject, and see if I can get through all of them in a year or two. 'Aftermath' is vague, but a hundred years is a decent arbitrary number, and it allows for an artificial division into quarters that makes it easier to follow. My summaries will be rough, but I'll try to be as accurate as a non-expert can be.

First Nicaea (325)

First Quarter (325-350)

Athanasius was deposed by the First Synod of Tyre in 335 and as a result was exiled by Constantine until Constantine's death in 337.

Constantine was succeeded by his son Constantius II, with his sons Constantine II and  Constans as co-emperors. Constans favored the Nicene position, but Constantius was sympathetic to Arianism and attempted to force the Nicenes to compromise. This was taken up by some bishops; in 341 a council was held at Antioch in order to dedicate a church built by Constantius; they produced what is known as the Dedication Creed or the Second Creed of Antioch. This was an attempt to push a compromise, avoiding the homoousios while slightly toning down some Arian statements. It was fairly successful in the near term; the serious defenders of Nicaea were split over whether it was orthodox or not, although opposition to it increased over time. The attempt to find a compromise position of this sort would heavily influence the course of the next half-century, leading to several varieties: Eunomianism, Homoianism, and so forth. Constantius, attempting to consolidate some version of compromise, convened the First Council of Sirmium in 347 to condemn particular vociferous opponents of Arianism.

Second Quarter (350-375)

 In 350 Constantius became the sole emperor, and now had a much less hindered path to pushing his preferred compromises with Arianism. As a result, Arianism reached its high point in the Second Quarter of the aftermath of Nicaea. The Second Council of Sirmium in 351 drafted what is known as the Sixth Arian Confession. Athanasius was forced into exile yet again due to being condemned by the Council of Arles in 353 and a Council of Milan in 355. In 357, the Third Council of Sirmium drafted the Seventh Arian Confession, which St. Hilary would call the Blasphemy of Sirmium, claiming that homoousios and homoiousios were neither of them derived from Scripture and that the Father was greater than the Son. The Fourth Council of Sirmium in 358 drafted but did not formally proclaim a definition that said that the Son was like (homoios) the Father. The proposal of Fourth Sirmium, however, was furthered when Constantius  called the Council of Ariminum (Rimini) in 359 and the Council of Selecuia in 360, and Arianism began spreading, as council after council was called to consolidate the position of Arian-Nicene compromises; the pagan Ammonius Marcellinus sarcastically noted that the highways seemed to be covered in bishops going to and from councils. Because of this, St. Jerome would say, "The whole world groaned, and was astonished to find itself Arian." Pope Liberius rejected the Sirmian creed, and was deposed. A Fifth Council of Sirmium was held in 359 and produced another version of compromise creed, which later became known as the Dated Creed (because unlike most conciliar documents it gave its date). While not important in itself, it served as the basis for several other councils. The most notable of these was the Council of Nike, where Constantius would not let the bishops go home until they signed a slightly modified version of the Dated Creed. When the Creed of Nike was confirmed again by the Council of Constantinople of 360, it effectively became the official creed of the Empire. It would not stay so for long, because Constantius died in 361.

Constantius was succeeded by Julian the Apostate, who pushed for a pagan religion over both Nicene and Arian Christianity; Jovian, who had a brief reign after Julian's death, restored Christianity's status as a tolerated religion and returned Athanasius to his see, but while he himself supported Nicaea, he did nothing against the Arians in general, but restored churches they had lost under Julian. Valentinian I became emperor in 364 and, needing for political reasons a co-emperor, chose his brother Valens; neither was particularly devoted to theological positions, and Valentinian would carefully try to remain neutral, but Valens had been baptized by the Arians and supported the pre-Julian compromise positions.

Third Quarter (375-400) 

It is only in the Third Quarter of the aftermath of First Nicaea that the Nicene position begins to consolidate and gain the clear upper hand over Arians and various proposed Nicene-Arian compromises. The turning point was Theodosius I coming to the throne in 379. He was strongly pro-Nicene, issuing the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 officially recognizing only Nicenes as Catholic Christians for purposes of law.  His most significant move was to call the First Council of Constantinople in 381, which consolidated and confirmed Nicaea. As Theodosius continue to reign until 395, he had plenty of time to enforce it, and from then on the Roman Empire was Nicene. However, Arianism continued outside the Empire among the various Germannic and Gothic tribes. Most notably, the Visigoths converted to Arianism in 376.

Fourth Quarter (400-425)

During the Fourth Quarter, Nicene orthodoxy begins to dominate; the compromisers, given every opportunity to succeed, had failed to come to the kind of general agreement that would have been required to provide a real alternative to the Creed of Nicaea, and now that the political advantages had shifted to the Nicene camp, which had only become more coherent, unified, and organized over time, they were simply unable to compete. But other disputes were already heating up...

First Constantinople (381)

Macedonius I became Patriarch of Constantinople in 342 due to Constantius having deposed and exiled Paul, the previous patriarch; Macedonius was pro-Arian. For various reasons he fell out of favor and was removed himself, but after his removal, he seems to have begun a movement to reject the idea that the Holy Spirit was divine. The movement caught the attention of various sees, and after some discussion (the Nicene Creed said nothing about the Holy Spirit except, "We believe in the Holy Spirit"), various councils began to condemn, in part due to pushes by St. Athanasius and St. Basil. Theodosius called the First Council of Constantinople in 381 to deal with the issue; it condemned the Macedonians and (although it is a disputed matter, see below in the Fourth Quarter) seems to have given us the version of the Nicene Creed that became the standard one.

First Quarter (381-406)

Of all the early ecumenical councils, First Constantinople seems to have had the least contentious doctrinal reception; the heresy it condemned had been caught relatively early and before it could get a strong grip on any part of the Empire. In addition, the First Quarter of the aftermath of First Constantinople overlaps the Third Quarter of the aftermath of First Nicaea; Nicene orthodoxy was beginning its firm consolidation, and all the major Nicene Fathers considered support for the doctrine of First Constantinople to cohere with their broader concerns in defending Nicaea. But this broader defense created a number of other controversies, which would take up much more attention. There was one significant crack that serves as a sort of omen of later problems: one of the canons of First Constantinople gave the See of Constantinople status as second see after Rome, with the same privileges that Rome had been recognized as having 'by the Fathers' because it was 'the imperial city'. This was firmly rejected by both Rome and Alexandria, Rome because it saw itself as having its privileges for theological reasons rather than civil ones, and Alexandria because First Nicaea had explicitly made it the second see and it held that an upstart council could not overturn Nicaea's decision. This led to few immediate effects, but it is arguably a reason why Alexandria in particular began to play a much more aggressive strategy of ecclesiastical politics wherever Constantinople was concerned, which would lead eventually to a much bigger blow-out than anything to do with the Macedonians.

In 397, St. John Chrysostom became Patriarch of Constantinople. A brilliant speaker and pious man, he nonetheless was not a diplomatic person, and alienated many of his potential allies in the Imperial court by uncompromisingly condemning their lifestyles and engaging in clerical reforms that led the court to being flooded by complaints from the clergy. A crisis began to brew when Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, disciplined a group of monks for Origenism, which he had condemned in 401 at a local synod in Alexandria. They fled to Constantinople, where Chrysostom supported them. The monks begged the intervention of the Emperor, who summoned Theophilus to answer for himself. Theophilus came, making a slow leisurely way in which he gathered supporting allies -- not at all difficult for a clever politician preparing to face down an opponent who was notorious for making enemies. He arrived in Constantinople in 403, where he completely ignored Chrysostom's invitations to sit down and talk. Instead, at the Synod of the Oak, Theophilus smoothly managed to take charge of the council and have Chrysostom deposed. Chrysostom was exiled; St. Innocent I of Rome refused to recognize the deposition, which he considered an act of arrogance on the part of Alexandria, but Chrysostom would die in exile.

Second Quarter (406-431)

In 428, a man named Nestorius became Patriarch of Constantinople. A highly educated man who would later be mocked for his tendency to introduce pedantic distinctions, he had a few views, one of which was that strictly speaking, you could not say that the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary or that Mary bore God in her womb. St. Cyril of Alexandria rebuked him for this, and Nestorius tried to respond in a high-handed way, not understanding that Alexandrians were seasoned brawlers. Alexandria was a city literally famous for its endless disputations and rough-and-tumble, riot-heavy politics; nobody became Patriarch of Alexandria without being a forceful personality and a rather ruthless politician, and St. Cyril was not an exception.

Third Quarter (431-456)

The Council of Ephesus was called in 431 to deal with the controversy over Nestorius's claims. The Emperor Theodosius II actively supported Nestorius, and it is clear from how he attempted to organize it that the purpose the council had been to put Cyril in his place. But Nestorius was no match for Cyril either intellectually or in political acumen; Cyril did not merely show up to the council. He showed up having already received the authority to act on the behalf not just of Alexandria but also of Rome until the papal legates made it to the council; he showed up with a large number of Egyptian bishops, taking advantage of the fact that Alexandria had a large number of missionary bishops whose basic function was to look after scattered hermits and the like in the Egyptian desert and who could more easily attend a council than a typical diocesan bishop; and, with the Alexandrian talent for sudden improvised organizing, he moved very quickly. The Emperor's representative had been instructed not to convene the council until Nestorius and his allies had all arrived, but Cyril outmaneuvered him procedurally, tricking him into reading the convening letter aloud, so Nestorius arrived at the council to find it already going, his major allies not yet arrived, and himself already summoned to stand trial for heresy. What had been as a triumph for Constantinople had turned into a complete rout, handing the victory to Rome and Alexandria.

However, ever since the event of the exile of Chrysostom, cracks had repeatedly been showing in the Rome-Alexandria alliance; they did not quite see things the same way anymore, and Cyril's organization of a unified stance at Constantinople is at least as much a tribute to his diplomatic skill as to any lingering sympathies between the sees.

St. Cyril died in 444, and a new slate of controversies arose, this time around a priest in Constantinople named Eutyches. He had been a supporter of Cyril at Ephesus, and was a vehement anti-Nestorian. His exact position is difficult to determine, but he was interpreted as having taken Ephesus to have implied that Christ was both God and man in such a way that his divinity and humanity were blended together into a new nature. He was condemned for this at a synod in Constantinople in 448 under St. Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople. Eutyches found a supporter in Patriarch Dioscurus of Alexandria, and at their request, the Emperor Theodosius II convoked a new council in 449, the Second Council of Ephesus to resolve the matter at the level of an ecumenical council. Flavian was beaten by a bunch of Alexandrian monks, deposed and exiled, dying in exile shortly afterward from complications arising from his wounds. However, the Emperor happened also to die shortly afterward, and Pulcheria and Marcian came to power. They summoned a new council in 451, the Council of Chalcedon, which branded the Second Council of Ephesus a 'Robber Council' and deposed Eutyches, who was exiled. The Council of Chalcedon used a modified Creed that it attributed to First Constantinople. It's unclear how this version of the Creed arose; Chalcedon is the first council whose surviving works even mention it (Ephesus had used First Nicaea's version), and it seems clear that many of the people in attendance at the council had never even heard of it. However, it was in the archives at Constantinople. Whatever its origin, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is usually thought not to be a direct variant of the Nicene Creed but an independent baptismal creed that was reworked at some point to make it more like the Nicene Creed. Chalcedon's affirmation of the Creed, however, also consolidated First Constantinople's position as an ecumenical council.

Fourth Quarter (456-481)

Chalcedon created a sharp rift between Alexandria and other sees that people on both sides would then struggle to heal. They would largely fail, despite the attempts. Part of the issues were doctrinal, but part of them were political: for the first time in its struggle with Alexandria, Constantinople had the upper hand, and it was not ready to yield much of its advantage on any point, while on the Alexandrian side the idea of significant concession to Constantinople was equally difficult to bear. The crack that First Constantinople seems to have opened up between Alexandria and the other sees continued only to widen.

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Humming-bird Yearned for the Eglantine

The Voice of April-Land
by Ella Higginson

  A voice came up thro' the April-land
 And spake a word of the sea;
 Straight leaped the sap in the alder's veins,
 Star-flowers blew in the lea;
 The lark's throat ached with his passion-song --
My heart with the love of thee. 

 A voice came up thro' the April-land
 And spake a word of the sea;
 The humming-bird yearned for the eglantine,
 For the clover yearned the bee;
 The wind for the wet lips of the rain --   
My heart for the heart of thee.

Sunday, April 23, 2023


 Today is the feast of St. George. My favorite painting of St. George and the Dragon, by Briton Riviere:

St. George and the Dragon by Briton Reviere (c. 1914).
Public Domain, Link

Most paintings of the motif show the saint in triumph, spearing the dragon; a rousing scene. But there's just something about this picture, with the dragon defeated but at great cost, and the saint victorious but dazed and exhausted, that speaks to me.

The dragon-slaying motif seems to have actually begun with St. Theodore Tiron of Amasea in the ninth century, although some have suggested it may have begun a century or two earlier; St. Theodore was, like St. George, a fourth-century soldier-saint, and they were often associated with each other, along with a number of soldier-martyrs of the period, who died when the Diocletian persecution came down heavily on Christians in military service. St. George of Lydda begins to be associated with the dragon in the eleventh century. In both cases the idea is almost certainly derivative from that of Christ victorious over the Serpent, i.e., the devil. St. George became an immensely popular figure -- there are even Muslim legends about him. He became one of several patron saints of England in the fourteenth century, but is the only one whose titular honors really survived the English Reformation -- arguably due to a combination of how early he was, his lack of any historical connection to standard Catholic pilgrimage sites in England, and his popularity in courtly circles. His association with England is his most famous patronage, but he is also a patron saint of Ethiopia, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine, Georgia, Malta, Portugal, and many other places.