Tuesday, April 23, 2013

St. George's Day

When you hear the name “Saint George,” and the picture of a knight killing a dragon comes to mind, then you’ve got the right idea. St. George is considered to be the patron saint of many European kingdoms and countries though (as it often goes with historical figures), he is remembered most by the most romantic tales than by his true historicity.

Various histories agree that George was born to a Greek family in Israel nearly 275 years after Christ and include his subsequent following in his father’s footsteps by serving in the Roman army. There are indications that Emperor Diocletian knew George’s father, so that helped; that is, until Diocletian banned Christianity. George was martyred for rejecting the new Romanism and for holding on to his faith as a follower of Christ.

The story of St. George killing the dragon is rich in symbolism: first, one recalls the biblical imagery of the defeat of Satan, described as “that great dragon” in scripture. This imagery glorifies Christ by picturing the faith of George overcoming the Roman empire, which suggests another view of the picture: the demise of Rome.

The idea of George and the dragon may have come from an actual historical event--or something like it. Picture an ancient village living under the folk religion and fear of spiritual realm. Nearby there lies a stream inhabited by a dragon, a crocodile. The villagers need water and fish the stream, but often disturb the animal, so they offer sacrifices of sheep or other animals. Imagine their terror and appeals to the spiritual realm as they maybe lose an innocent child (“virgin”) to the beast.

Could there have been a “missionary” effort in terms of signs and wonders for this Roman soldier, a follower of Christ, to come along and slay the dragon/crocodile? Could he have received his fame among the kingdoms by bringing the message of salvation into the pagan world? It is not difficult to hear the voices of the villagers as they trade and travel, telling others of this one who came in the name of Jesus and killed their dragon--physically and spiritually.

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