Freitag, 6. Mai 2016

Saints and Dragons

Saint George Day

Some people in some parts of the world are celebrating St. George Day today. England and English lands do and many other countries and cities do (on April 23, unless Easter is then), and Orthodox countries do also according to the corresponding date on their Julian calendar, which happens to be today.

An Orthodox icon of St. George
It is a major festival in the world of festivals. Some of our young people are with a Serbian family for their festival dinner this evening. I sent a long a small thank you card.

My version of the above

The day (in the Gregorian calendar, which we all use) of April 23, is also the Day of the Book. On that day in 1616 both Shakespeare and Cervantes died and are remembered with books. In Spain one gives a rose and a book to loved ones.

The insignia of St. George is a red cross on a white field. It was flown on many English ships,including the Mayflower, and is part of the British flag.

The Legend

The story goes that a town or kingdom was terrorized by a dragon. They offered it lambs without satisfying it, then offered it virgins. Depending on the region in which the story is told, eventually the princess is chosen by lot or compelled to be next. A heroic young man goes to her rescue and slays the dragon, from whose blood a rose grows, which he then gives to her. Thus the historical association with roses for the day.

Everybody who is somebody in the art world - Rubens, etc. - and many who are nobody, have found the legend of George an appealing subject and portrayed his own interpretation.

An ink drawing from 1642
... from medieval times to today's pop art...

... to spoofs.

For your own coloring today (if you know how to capture dragons)


  1. Great art lesson, not to be found in many places these days.
    Thanks for explaining the legend as I have seen St. George in so many places but didn't know the story.

  2. Thanks, Pam, and you are welcome.
    I hear the festival dinner was delicious, too, cabbage rolls and corn bread and all, even for Thom. That says something.

  3. SO. I just told Nathan about this because I was interested in the fact that May 6 is Jonah's birthday and he has been obsessed with dragons for the last couple of years. But then Nathan told me that he was told that this legend came out of the prevalence of Arianism in the church for a brief time of church history. Supposedly Saint George was Arius (or an Arian) who slayed the "dragon" of Athanasius. That's how it was seen at the time and the legend was born...

    So this piques my curiosity, since I dislike how the traditional saint myths smack of revisionism. I did some googling, and at first all I found was a poo-poohing of this idea because it is supposedly only based on the suppositions of one historian. It is said that the connection of Saint George and George of Cappadocia is a stretch. But it still seems to me that this could be more of a cover-up, and I personally like this article for explaining why:

    Hard to know what to believe, especially based on cursory googling, but I kinda like the idea... ;-)

    1. Does Jonah read a lot? Does he want a good dragon story? If yes, I've got one for him.

    2. Yes! He's read all of the Eragon series and is craving more...

  4. What a nice tradition, giving a rose and a book to a loved one!
    I'm surprised bookstores haven't caught on to that one yet...

  5. Well, Katie, I tried to find the topic under the address you noted amd it had vast quantities of medical information...
    Your theory sounds interesting. I did rad some other source material. See items under "St. George as Arius" to find them. One needs to know from what we studied long since in history, that Europe squabbled for centuries over Arianism, which denies (to more or less degrees by variants)the full deity of Christ. This does have something to do with the honor given to George today, in that certain lands were more inclined to Arianism than others. I'd like to write more - history is fascinating - but my flocks are awaiting supper.
    Still, over time George has been "Christianized," so, keeping in mind historical problems, one can still admire the basic story of good defeating evil and rescuing princesses, and giving roses.

    1. Well, phooey, I wonder what happened with the link on your end? When I copy and paste it, it brings up the article I read. Maybe something gets lost before it gets to your side of the world wide web. It's a pdf file, so that might have something to do with it. It's a pity, because it's really interesting.

  6. Yes, a pity, but if you give me some key title words and author I can usually find the something being sought.
    Also, Maria's dragon book is very good, but unpublished, unfortunately. We're still working on her in that matter. The theme is about holding on to good when it's hard, and knowing what good is.
    Sorry about all the typos in the previous comment - no way to edit afterward.

    1. In that case, do a search for the title of the paper: "St George of England: a study of sainthood and legend". Hopefully that will make it appear for you. :-)

    2. I did look up your key words and found the site - which was indeed a medical site - and read the article. I think I would tend to go more with the addendum than the main argument, in that there were lots of Georges and the traditional hero need not have been a bad-guy-now-whitewashed.