Saint George and Palestine

2007 Children's Art Competition

The Life of Saint George

The Dragon Story

Lydda

Al Khader village near Bethlehem

Palestinian traditions about Saint George and Al Khader

A tale of Al Khader

Saint George and  England

How the village of Taybah got its name

Saint George / Al Khader Links

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George and the Dragon

This is a story about good overcoming evil and sin with the help of God. A story about protecting children and others who are weak. It tells us that we should make sure that everyone in the world has enough clean water and the other things they need to live well.

We have dragons to overcome inside of us. Dragons such as greed, selfishness, anger, hatred, and not caring about others.

We have to work together to overcome dragons in the world such as injustice, poverty and war.


Fresco in Saint George's Church, Al Khader village near Bethlehem

The traditional story as told in The Golden Legend 

At a town called Silene in Libya (Or near Beirut according to the Lebanese) a dragon made its nest in a spring. From this spring the people of the town got all their water. When there was food nearby the dragon would move away from the spring to eat. While it was eating the people could get water from the spring. Every day they fed the dragon so that they could get water. They fed it with two sheep a day. When they ran short of sheep they started to feed it with a child each day. They drew lots to decide which child would be eaten next.

One day the king’s daughter was chosen. The king was horrified. At first the king refused to let his daughter go. He begged the people to draw lots again. The people said no. They did not see why their children should be eaten, but not the princess. They said they would kill the king unless he agreed. The king gave in.

The next day the princess was taken to the spring. Saint George got there when the dragon was just about to eat the princess. The dragon was angry and attacked Saint George. But Saint George held up the Christian cross and the dragon stopped his attack. Then Saint George used his lance to pin the dragon to the ground. Saint George asked the princess to take off the girdle or belt she had around the waist of her dress. He told her to tie it around the dragons neck, making a collar and lead. When this was done the dragon became very timid and tame.

Saint George led the dragon into Silene. Saint George told all the people that it was the Christian God who had made the fierce dragon become so timid. The people all became Christians. Then Saint George killed the dragon.

Origins of the Story

The earliest written version of the story is from The Golden Legend in 1265, over 900 years after Saint George was killed. However in Eastern Churches there are images of Saint George overcoming a Dragon from up to 300 years earlier. But these are often thought of as having a purely allegorical meaning. The maiden protected by Saint George representing the church and innocence. Saint George defeating sin and the devil. 

The Golden Legend is a Crusader document. The story of the Dragon in Silene may be  a Crusader invention to explain the images they saw, but misunderstood, in eastern churches. But perhaps there is more to it than that. Maybe Saint George or others in the early church did stop a cult that involved child sacrifice as a way of appeasing pagan gods to get rain, and agricultural fertility. Both the Koran and the Bible tell the story of Abraham being instructed by God not to sacrifice his son but a lamb instead. It is interesting that in the George and the Dragon story 'sacrificing' sheep is replaced by 'sacrificing' children before the Saint comes to the rescue. Had a community desperate from prolonged droughts, and wanting to make a greater sacrifice to their  gods switched from sacrificing sheep to sacrificing children before Saint George and the Church put a stop to the practice? 

 

 

 

 

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