Friday, April 23, 2010
St George (275-281)
The most famous legend of Saint George is the tale of him slaying a dragon. In the Middle Ages the dragon was commonly used to represent the Devil. The slaying of the dragon by St George was first credited to him in the twelfth century, long after his death. . The version of the legend added to the hagiography of Saint George was Eastern in origin, and was brought back to the west by those returning from the Crusades.
According to the narrative in the Golden Legend the events take place at "Silene," in Libya. In the tenth-century Georgian narrative, the location is the fictional city of Lasia, where the godless Emperor Selinus riegns.
In that telling of the tail the town was near a large body of water where a dragon dwelled. From there it terrized the country side. Every day two sheep were feed to the dragon. When that failed to appease its appitite , they fed it their children whom were chosen by lottery.
One day it happened that the lot fell on the king's daughter. The king, distraught with grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, decked out as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.
Saint George came by the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain and vanquish the dragon.
The dragon reared out of the lake during their conversing. George fortified himself with the Sign of the Cross, charged it on horseback with his lance and gave it a grievous wound. Then he called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash. She and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the people at its approach. But Saint George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptised, he would slay the dragon before them.
The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon and "Fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children." On the site where the dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease.