Sunday, 12 June 2011

St. George and the Dragon

St. George and the Dragon by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Saint George (ca. 275/281 – 23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

This is the account of St. George that I was familiar with.  It is this St. George I referred to when I did the blog posting on the icon of St. Alexandra back on April 19th of this year.  You may recall that I wrote the following:

St. Alexandra
"He (St. George) had been a Roman soldier who was now being punished by her husband for his faith in Jesus Christ and his refusal to worship the Roman gods. Intrigued, she sought out St. George, finding him in the dungeons, beaten and bloody. Even in this state, he spoke to Alexandra with calm assurance of the love of Christ. So powerful was his witness that St. Alexandra renounced the pagan gods and joyfully accepted Christ as her Saviour."

As I did research on St. George, however, I discovered that there are a number of stories about St. George and the Dragon -- even similar pre-Christian stories.  One of the most famous is found in something called the "Golden Legend" (the Golden Legend information is taken from Wikipedia).
[According to the Golden Legend the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place in a place the author called "Silene," in Libya. The Golden Legend is the first to place this legend in Libya as a sufficiently exotic locale, where a dragon might be imagined. In the tenth-century Georgian narrative, the place is the fictional city of Lasia, and its godless Emperor is named Selinus.

The town had a pond, as large as a lake, where a plague-bearing dragon dwelt that envenomed (to make something poisonous) all the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene used to feed it two sheep every day, and when the sheep failed, they fed it their children, chosen by lottery. It happened that the lot fell on the king's daughter, who is in some versions of the story called Sabra. 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 by chance rode past the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain. The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint 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 baptized, he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. "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.]

Others trace the origin of Saint George and the Dragon to Palestine, where the supposed dragon was controlled by Satan. The creature blocked the city's water supply and would only move if given a virgin sacrifice. Over time, all of the virgins were sacrificed except for the noble's daughter, and even she was sent to quench the castle's thirst. However, Saint George (or Mar Jiryis) arrived at the last moment on his white horse, striking down the dragon with a spear between its eyes.

As you can imagine, I had a great time drawing this icon since I got to use so many interesting colours -- plus I also got to try to draw another horse!

St. George, pray for us.


Now for some appealing photos I came across recently.

"What on earth is that?  Can you figure it out?"
I really had to chuckle over these two owls.  Owls are such amazing creatures as they are able to make almost a complete turn with their heads -- so much so that sometimes when they are watching you, they turn their head and you realize that what you thought was the front was really their back! 

Anyway, these two characters seem to be eyeing something very carefully and don't seem to be too certain as to what they are looking at!  I have felt that way occasionally while driving my wheelchair along Yonge Street!

"Do you mean this thing in my mouth?  Oh, it's nothing, just something I found in the leaves."

I also find this photo very amusing.  The dog obviously has something in its mouth, probably something it picked up in the leaves and grass.  The dog also seems to know that this is a big no-no and when confronted by their human, the dog gives that marvelous look which says "Oops, I have been caught" and is ready to try to talk his way out of the "bad dog" that he knows is coming!

"Don't try to overcharge me.  I've got my eye on the meter!"
This is another funny one.  Why the one duck is standing on another is puzzling unless the one on top with the juvenile markings is the child and the other duck is the parent.  I mean when you see those big Robin babies -- as big or bigger than their parents -- begging and begging for food -- you realize that even when the bird babies are big, the parents still treat them as babies.

So this is either a "duck taxi service" or else a youngster still trying to ride on its mother's back!


Woofstock has been doing its annual thing in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood this weekend! Front Street has been closed off from just a little bit east of Yonge over to Jarvis with many of the side streets shut off as well.  And, of course, there have been lots and lots of dogs parading up and down pulling their humans along at varying speeds.  I enjoy seeing the crowds of people and dogs for a while, but then I find it a bit overwhelming and am ready to return to the quietness of my home and my sleepy kitty cat.

Speaking of Suki, she is nowhere to be seen at the moment.  I am sure she is somewhere sleeping off the big supper I gave her tonight. Oops, I spoke too soon.  Just as I finished typing the previous sentence, I heard some faint meows coming from the closet -- and here she is folks, trying to climb onto my shoulder and nuzzle my ear.  This, by the way, is all in an effort to get some additional food!  What a cat!

I also had a big supper which included fresh Ontario asparagus and strawberries purchased from the Farmer's Market yesterday -- the one at the North Market across from St. Lawrence Market.  As the Ontario fruits and veggies start to become available each year, I am amazed anew at how good fresh food tastes!
I have one additional photo to show you tonight.  I came across the picture below this past week and was truly delighted by it.  What a beautiful scene.

Deer walking into the sunlight
I can imagine standing at the edge of the clearing as the deer cautiously comes out into the sunlight.  What a magical sight that would be.

Well, folks, I had better go and see what I can do to turn off this purring machine that is trying to climb all over me!

May the peace of God be with us all.

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