Saturday, May 8, 2010

The truth about St. George, and about the Dragon, too!

Saint George and the dragon

Did you know that St. George, the Dragon Slayer, was an actual person and is even a canonized saint?

Raised as a Catholic by his wealthy Roman parents, George served for many years as a pious Christian soldier in the army of the pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian.

A calm knight

Then, early in the year 303, Diocletian prohibited Catholics from attending Mass and ordered the destruction of all Catholic churches. When George encountered this terrible edict, he boldly proclaimed his own Catholic faith and ripped the edict off the wall where it was posted.

For his defiance of the emperor and for his refusal to renounce his Christian faith, George was tortured, dragged through the streets behind horses, and finally beheaded.

A pious knight

Moved by his example, scores of people rushed to convert to Christianity. Devotion to St. George spread quickly throughout the Roman Empire, from England to Egypt. Even today, thousands of Catholics seek his intercession daily, praying this prayer:

Almighty God, who gave to your servant George boldness to Confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.



And the dragon?

A fierce dragon

Well, by the sixth century, St. George was revered throughout Christendom as the ideal Christian soldier and by the eighth century stained-glass windows in churches across Europe depicted him . . . but not with the dragon.

It turns out that Jacobus de Voragine, the 13th-century archbishop of Genoa, introduced the dragon 900 years after St. George's death.

Voragine's wildly popular book, The Golden Legend, included the tale of a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya:

This rough beast gobbled up two sheep a day, and, when sheep were scarce, forced local villagers to bring it maidens to eat.

Learning of this as he passed through Silena one day, George (according to the legend) crossed himself, rode into battle against the serpent . . .

A fearful horse


. . . and killed it
with a
single thrust
of his lance.

Saint George slays the dragon

Then George preached a magnificent sermon which converted the locals to Christianity.

Given a large reward by the king, George distributed it to the poor and rode away.


No wonder the legend spurred devotion to St. George as a model of piety and virtue, of courage in defense of the weak and the poor. By the 15th century, in many places St. George's feast day was as popular and important as Christmas.

Statues of him were erected everywhere, and small, finely-crafted, delicately-painted ones --- like the one photographed here --- were found in many homes, to help us keep in mind the piety and courage that must be ours if we are to live in this world as Christians.

A knight intent


So, yes, the dragon was fictional.

But the prayers engendered by his encounter with St. George were genuine. For, like us today, those who heard the legend knew that dragons take many shapes:

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, St. George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit.

The dragon skewered

We fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help us by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround us, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress us, so that we may patiently carry the crosses which are placed upon us; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate us from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Valiant champion of the Faith, assist us in the combat against evil, that we may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end.


Hey! Before you click away to another site, take just a second to go back up and look carefully at the photos of this magnificent statue of St. George and the Dragon:

Side view of whole statue

In the first photo, we see the serpent reaching quickly upward with its left claw to strike a gut-spilling blow at the horse's belly while St. George's horse rears suddenly back to lash out with his hooves. The master sculptor has caught the quick motion of these battling beasts at the instant of their greatest tension.

St. George is also unmoving . . . or should I say,unmoved. In the chaos of the moment, he sits calmly in the saddle, confident in his skills and in the justice of his cause.

Scroll up to the second photo and look directly into St. George's face, as did the dragon. You find there no fear whatsoever: just concentrated intensity such as we might see in the face of a surgeon . . . or of someone fighting the devil, knowing that if he wavers or stumbles, he will himself be destroyed.

A calm knight

A pious knight

Now go up and look at his face from the side. Sure, there is exquisite detail, but note that from this angle a different St. George reveals himself: thoughtful, wistful . . . a man doing the duty he knows is his and his alone, but regretful that the need for such grim duties exists, that evil mars this world at all, wishing things could be different. Or do we see here the real St. George, anticipating his death by martyrdom in pagan Rome?

The dragon? His beady eyes hold no such thoughts. In him, as in evil itself, there is no nuance, no subtlety, no depth: just teeth and horns and warts and fire to bite and break and burn and bite and break and burn some more. Look again at that open mouth of his: he's not just biting; he's laughing and gloating all the while, exultant in the evil he's doing.

A fierce dragon

A fearful horse

The horse? See how the sculptor has caught the fear in his eyes, as he rears back from sharp horns, teeth, and claws of the haughty serpent! And yet, afraid or not, this brave horse will stand with St. George, and battle evil until it be vanquished or he himself be dead.

And so should we.

You see, you have before you a rare thing: not merely a statue, but a visual catechism of virtue in action, a work whose drama and detail and motion will immediately draw the attention of anyone who sees it in your home or office.

It will charm adults and fascinate children, affording you many occasions to talk of our Holy Faith to all who see it, from your four-year old niece Emma to your crusty old uncle Ed.

Best of all, in these difficult times for the faith, for us individually, and for our families, it will remind you to pray daily to the holy martyr George, whose intercession could well make the difference in the great battle between God and the Devil for your soul and for the souls of those you love:

O GOD, who didst grant to Saint George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith; we beseech Thee to preserve, through his intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt, so that we may serve Thee with a sincere heart faithfully unto death. Through Christ our Lord.


Saint George and the dragon

St. George and the Dragon
Made of a hard-resin dipped in bronze, this statue weighs a hefty 7 lbs (about what a full gallon jug of milk weighs). Almost a foot tall and a foot wide, each bronzed statue has been individually hand-painted ever-so-lightly by a master artist, making each one a work of art uniquely its own.

A museum-quality
religious artwork for only

and we will ship it
to you for free.*


or call

Sophia Institute Press
Box 5284, Manchester

NH 03108

Friday, May 7, 2010

Prayer & Perseverance

The failure to persevere is the most common problem in prayer and intercession. We begin to pray for something, but if we have not received a definite answer, we quickly give up & stop praying for it alltogether.

Pray until what you pray for have been accomplished or you have complete assurance in your heart that it will be. Prayer not only is calling upon GOD but it is also a battle with Satan.

God alone mus decide when it is safe to cease from petitioning.