an index page for the legendary saint
D. L. Ashliman
Saint George (St. George) is one of the most durable legendary heroes in the western world. According to tradition, he was born in England in the fourth century and served in the imperial army in Asia Minor. He has been the patron saint of England since the middle ages and is among the greatest saints for the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. His famous duel with the dragon is set in various Holy Land locations plus North Africa, Mediterranean Europe, and even northern Europe.
Folktales about dragon slayers are classified as Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 300.
There was once a great city that depended for its water supply upon a fountain without the walls. A great dragon, possessed and moved by Satan himself, took possession of the fountain and refused to allow water to be taken unless, whenever people came to the spring, a youth or maiden was given to him to devour. The people tried again and again to destroy the monster; but though the flower of the city cheerfully went forth against it, its breath was so pestilential that they used to drop down dead before they came within bow-shot.
The terrorized inhabitants were thus obliged to sacrifice their offspring, or die of thirst; till at last all the youth of the place had perished except the king's daughter. So great was the distress of their subjects for want of water that her heart-broken parents could no longer withhold her, and amid the tears of the populace she went out towards the spring, where the dragon lay awaiting her. But just as the noisome monster was going to leap on her, Mar Jiryis appeared, in golden panoply, upon a fine white steed, and spear in hand. Riding full tilt at the dragon, he struck it fair between the eyes and laid it dead. The king, out of gratitude for this unlooked-for succor, gave Mar Jiryis his daughter and half of his kingdom.
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Revised December 27, 2009.