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(#184) SAINT GEORGE SINGLE MALT WHISKEY:
Edition of 2786 of which 125 copies are signed 1-125, 26 copies are signed A-Z as artist's proofs; 2 are signed as dedication copies, and three sets are signed as progressives.
January 21, 2000 17-1/4" x 24" 8 colors
Client: Saint George Spirits, 2900 Main Street, Alameda CA 94501 Telephone (510) 769-1601; e-mail : email@example.com
Dedication copies: Lance Winters, Lynn M. J. Gregory 1-125: Saint Hieronymus Press A-Z: Artist's own use Progressives: One set to Lance Winters; one set to Lynn M. J. Gregory; one set to Saint Hieronymus Press
Oh, many a peer of England brews Livelier liquor than the Muse, And malt does more than Milton can To justify God's ways to man.
-- Alfred Edward Housman (1859 - 1936) A Shropshire Lad, 1896
Saint George is the special patron of the order of the Garter (sometimes called the Order of Saint George) instituted in 1348 by Edward III. In 1415 his saint day, April 23, was made an English festival of the highest rank.
In 1529 Pope Clement VII rejected the suit of Henry VIII for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. To serve his own ends, as well as those of the nation, Henry in response abolished papal jurisdiction in England, and confiscated the enormous wealth of the church. He then divorced Catherine and in 1533 married the unpopular Anne Boleyn, and had her beheaded when she failed to produce the anticipated male heir.
Henry then married Jane Seymour, who was obnoxious to no one, gave birth to Edward VI, and then died. On the advice of "the Emissary of Satan," Thomas Cromwell, Henry reluctantly married Anne of Cleves, who did not speak English and was, furthermore, not at all like her portrait by Holbein. When the political climate changed yet again, the unconsumated marriage was annulled, "the Flanders Mare" was replaced by Catherine Howard, and for his pains, Cromwell was made shorter by a head.
Catherine Howard was, in turn, brought to the block in 1542 and her precarious post was assumed by Catherine Parr. Queen Catherine had the good fortune to escape a charge of heresy and to outlive her dangerous spouse, who was gathered to his fathers in 1547.
Edward VI succeeded Henry VIII, but inconveniently died in 1553, to be followed (after some unpleasant interludes occasioned by Catherine of Aragon's Catholic daughter, "Bloody Mary") on the throne in 1558 by the Protestant Elizabeth, the only surviving child of Henry VIII by his second queen, Anne Boleyn. Under Elizabeth's lonely reign, the English unmercifully harassed the Catholic Spaniard and Frenchman for forty five years.
None of this inclined the long-memoried Church of Rome to be friendly disposed toward England. In 1960 the annual feast of Saint George in Roman Catholic churches was reduced to a simple mention of his name in prayers at Mass and Lauds, and in 1969 Saint George--together with Saints Christopher and Nicholas, among others--was given the old heave-ho. Now, I am not one to ascribe ignoble motives where there may be none, but when the Church revised its official calendar of recognized saints and saw fit to strike the patron Saint of England, my suspicions were aroused.
I don't know about the dragon, or its propensity for devouring maidens, or if Saint George, the Red Cross knight, really performed all the wonders attributed to him. The warrior saint was at least as real as many others whose lives and--more important--deaths contributed to the establishment of the early church. Perhaps a bit more mythical or more lavishly embellished, but at least he started out real enough. It seems to me to be mean spirited to take away a focus for faith just because the actual person could not conceivably have done all the things that legend says he did, or that the miracles accompanying his memory are absurd and improbable.
I myself have been in a large Italian church dedicated to a saint whose claim to fame is that he was in two widely separated geographical locations at once, and that miraculous cures are effected in his name. If Saint Anthony can defy the laws of physics and get away with it, by that same measure so should the martyr Saint George be tolerated.
But all these quibbles are matters of faith, not of fact, and in matters of faith there is no truth or falsehood, as there is no earthly way of knowing the will of God. However, a glass or two of Saint George whiskey will move you much closer to the illusion of knowing what He might have in mind.
Sources: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th Edition (1910); The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, Donald Attwater, 1965; A Calendar of Saints for Unbelievers, Glenway Wescott, Leete's Island Books, 1932, 1976.