Saint George has been one of my favorite Saints since I was a little kid. I loved the idea of knights going off to unfamiliar lands to slay dragons and woo over princesses.
Born in the year of two sixty something or other, George spent his life growing up to be a cavalry soldier for good old Rome. He quickly rose through the ranks, and eventually became an aide to the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
When Diocletian decided to focus on internal affairs, he believed that Christianity must be suppressed in order for Paganism to stay as the state religion. The Emperor gathered his aides and told them to pledge themselves by making Pagan sacrifices. George was the only one that refused, and told Diocletian that he was a Christian.
Diocletian imprisoned George and tortured him multiple time in attempts to convert him to Paganism. He ordered a heavy boulder be placed on George’s chest, and then bound him to a spiked wheel. George was given one last chance to sacrifice to the Pagan gods to save himself, but George told Diocletian that he’d rather become a martyr like his father had. Diocletian had him put to death on April 23rd, 303 AD.
Years after his death, a legend was passed around quite often. It was the legend of St George and the dragon. The legend speaks of a dragon terrorizing a city in Libya. The king of this city called forth his armies, but no one could even harm the beast. The dragon would only leave after two sheep were sacrificed to it every day. Once the sheep were given, the dragon would rest in a nearby marsh.
Once the sheep were all gone, the people of the city were terrified. The king told the dragon there were no more sheep to be sacrificed. The dragon demanded that a child per day would be sacrificed instead. After eight days, the king readied to sacrifice his own daughter.
When the time came for the princess to go out, she begged the knight that escorted her to run and leave her. The knight, none other than George, told her that he would slay the dragon himself. After praying before charging in, George had gravely wounded the dragon with his spear. He called for the princess to bind the beast with her girdle so they may drag it back to the city. Once they had dragged the dragon to the city square, George took his sword, called for the power of God, and cut off the dragon’s head.
As George left, the people kept asking how they might repay him for his knightly deed. He only asked for everyone to be baptized in the name of Christ as his form of payment.
Image credit: Attributed to Hans von Kulmbach [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons