Saint George and the Dragon

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 versus the dragon
Saint George versus the dragon
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St. George and the Dragon from Bernt Notke in Stockholms Storkyrkan
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St. George and the Dragon in Stockholms Gamla stan

According to the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, the story of Saint George and the Dragon took place in a place he called "Silene," in Libya. There was no such place, the name being perhaps a corruption of Cyrene. The Golden Legend is the first to place this tale in Libya, as a sufficiently exotic locale, where a dragon might be imagined. A translation of the original text of Jacobus de Voragine is linked below.

This town had a pond large as a lake where a plague-bearing dragon dwelled. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene used to feed it a sheep and a virgin every day, the virgin chosen by lottery.

It happened that the lot fell on the princess of Silene. 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 heard of this state of affairs, and travelled on horseback to the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain and fortified himself with the sign of the Cross. (In the earliest version, the sign of the Cross itself was sufficient to defeat the dragon.)

The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint George 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 put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a dog 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, seeing this was an offer they could not refuse, converted to Christianity. George then drew his sword and dispatched the dragon. 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 diseases.

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