Thoughts on St. George and the Dragon

St. George is famous for being a “warrior saint”–one who is staunch in defending his faith, who gives witness to the Gospel with courage and conviction.  One of the earliest surviving icons of him dates from the 11th century, and is in Moscow, Russia.  Stories about him sound like a fairy tale–with George the brave and pure knight, castles, dragons, battles against the forces of evil, and even the rescue of a princess in a tower.  I am sure that the legends of this saint are the impetus for many a fairy tale.   At first that caused me to dismiss him as a just a story, but after working for so many months on the St. George quilt, I came to appreciate the theology of what is being shown in this image.  It is filled with triumph and hope.  The dragon emerges from darkness, serpentlike and writhing: an image of Satan emerging from hell.  The horse seems to float over him, powerful and dynamic in form, a symbol of God’s grace.  It is white, the color of light and purity. George is carried by the horse through dry desert hills to trample over the evil one.  The background is red, a color said to be a symbol of divine light.  (Perhaps this is because red pigments are rare and beautiful, and thus of great value, and accordingly are suitable to symbolize the radiance of God.)  As George battles the dragon, which represents his own fears, demons, struggles, and sins–the heavens open.  The Hand of God stretches forth to bless him and support him.  The saint, transformed by grace, inclines his head to receive the blessing, to accept this gift of grace.  His expression is inward-looking, calm and still.   He is filled with faith, trust and submission to God, through whom all things can be done.  George seems to thrust a spear through the dragon’s head, but he does not grasp the weapon tightly.  It is rests loosely in his open palm, for it is the power of God that defeats our demons, and not our own efforts.  I find this image tremendously powerful, relevant and comforting to pray with.  It has become one of my favorite icons.

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About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
This entry was posted in Catholic icons, fabric art, Icon, Iconography, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Thoughts on St. George and the Dragon

  1. SR says:

    Hey Reinkat,

    How are things going? Love this post and thanks so much for writing it, as I really did not know anything about St. George. Things are well here, will email when you get home. Again thanks for this, as usual I be lovin’ this beautiful blog. God Bless, SR

  2. SR says:

    Hey Reinkat, Hope trip as gone well. Just wanted to let you know I have a second blog as the first one is turning into a teaching blog, and I like to right about other things as well. New address is: http://tolaughandcrywithyou.wordpress.com Let me know when you get in. Have missed sharing with you. God Bless, SR

  3. James Even says:

    It is the symbolism of the Icons that pulls me in. I love to meditate on them and you have done a beautiful job of explaining the symbols in this one. God has truly blessed you with a talent for this. I am looking forward to reading and looking at more of your work.

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