April 23 is the Feast of St. George,a particularly important day, especially for the United Kingdom that every year on this date celebrates the Patron Saint of England, as well as an iconic figure of Anglo-Saxon culture, history and imagination.
However, April 23 is not just a UK anniversary. Remaining in Italy, in fact, Genoa has an important history linked to the Saint, even older than the British one, and even today this bond is more alive than ever and represented by the flag of the city.
Originally the banner of the Republic of Genoa, the Cross of San Giorgio is still today the official symbol of the Ligurian capital that every year celebrates April 23, the day dedicated to the Saint, the Feast of the Flag.
On this special occasion the city of Genoa is tinged with white and red colors and the symbol of San Giorgio, from the Lantern to the fountain of Piazza De Ferrari and throughout the province the flags of the city are hoisted and displayed on palaces, monuments and houses.
This year we, at Adria Bandiere, can also say that we have contributed in some way to celebrate this holiday, thanks to a commission that led us to create 16,000 flags!
For the occasion, we want to dedicate this article to the history of the flag of Genoa and the origin of this festival.
The Flag Festival of Genoa
If the origins of the symbol of St. George and its link with the city are to be found in ancient times, the Flag Festival of Genoa has very recent origins.
Established in 2019, the festival is in fact in its third edition this year and was designed to “keep alive the values that the banner of St. George represents for the Genoese: strength, pride, hope and freedom” and to celebrate a symbol of unity, identity and cohesion.
The Festival is celebrated with an official ceremony attended by the main institutional offices of the Ligurian capital and the region and with the posting of the city’s flag by citizens and institutions. During the festival is also remembered the twinning with the city of London, with which Genoa shares the symbol of St. George.
The history of the flag of St. George and the connections with Genoa
As already mentioned, often one of the most immediate associations with St. George and the symbol of the cross is precisely that with the United Kingdom, however the true history of the red cross on a white background is extremely linked to the history of the city of Genoa and has even older origins.
The Christian legend of St. George, a Christian knight who freed the city of Selem, Libya, from an evil dragon, saving the population and converting them to Christianity, is famous to all. The same scene is still depicted today in a painting inside the Palazzo di San Giorgio in Genoa.
But where does the link between the Ligurian city and the cross symbol of the Saint come from?
The origins of this link are to be found in the Middle Ages, at the time of the Maritime Republics. At the time, in the Republic of Genoa the veneration of the Saint was recognized at an institutional level and the use of the flag of St. George as a symbol of the Republic is attested at least since 1113.
At that time, the Cross of St. George accompanied the Crusader soldiers in battle and the vessels of the Genoese Republic and it is from here that the probable connection with the United Kingdom also arises.
From some documents it seems that the forces of the Genoese Republic were particularly famous for their efficiency and power, to the point of leading England to request permission from Genoa to hoist the flag with the Cross of St. George on its ships.
It therefore seems that England decided to pay an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa as a consideration for the use of the flag of San Giorgio which then became over time a fundamental symbol of the country until today, appearing in the coat of arms of the city of London and in the flag of the British Navy.
As regards, however, the connections between Genoa and the symbol of St. George that have come down to us, in addition to the flag of the city,the fresco already mentioned and the Palace that takes the same name as the Saint, the Cross of St. George is now also present in the banner of the Liguria Region.
We just have to wish the whole city of Genoa a happy Flag Festival!