23 July 2010

From head to tail

As far as tales of dragons and damsels go, the story of Saint George has perhaps had the longest legs. As the tale goes, one day a village found a dragon blocking the way to their spring, the only source of water available. Attempts were made to move the dragon from its position, but to no avail. Sheep were offered as sacrifices, but when there were no longer sheep to be found, the village began sacrificing fair maidens. The lottery of straw drawing was employed, and with each new sacrifice, the villagers were given one day’s access to the spring.

One day, however, the straw was drawn by the princess. Though the king pleaded for his daughter to be spared, it was deemed that she would be sacrificed like all of the rest. Then, dashing in at the last minute, came Saint George who just happened to be passing through on his travels. With his magical lance (often used interchangeably with sword), Ascalon, George was able to slay the dragon and save the princess. In some versions of the tale the heathen or pagan villagers threw off their beliefs in order to follow the path of Christianity due to George’s deed.

The patron saint of England, Portugal, and the islands of Malta and Gozo, statues of Saint George have been erected in towns and villages throughout Europe as a symbol of his protective nature. One such statue has found its way into the central square of World Showcase’s Germany.

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