George and the Dragon
Many years ago, in Asia Minor, in a city called Silena, a king and his people lived. Near the city was a lake where a dragon lived. Many times, the king had sent his army to kill the dragon, but never had they been able to do so.
Whenever this dragon was near the city walls, his poisonous breath caused the death of all who were within reach of it. So, in order to save the city, it was the custom to throw each day, two sheep, to feed the dragon and satisfy his hunger. This went on until not one sheep was left, and no more sheep could be found in the neighbourhood. Then the people gathered for a meeting and decided that each day, a young man or a young woman and one of their cattle would be given to the dragon, so that he might not destroy the whole city.
Now it came to pass one day, that the name of the princess herself was drawn, and she was to be sacrificed to the dragon. The king was filled with horror. He offered in exchange, his gold and silver, and half his kingdom, if his daughter might be spared. But all he could obtain was seven days, to be with his beloved daughter. So for seven days the king and his daughter cried because the king would soon be losing his dear daughter, to the horrible dragon. And at the end of those seven days the people came to the palace crying, “Why do you spare your daughter and let your subjects be killed by the terrible dragon? Everyday, the dragon comes and kills a few of us with his poisonous breath!”
So the king knew he must part with his beloved daughter. He had her dress in her best clothes, and then he kissed her and said, “Ah, my dearest daughter, what an end is this! I had thought to die and leave you happy. I hoped to have invited princes to your wedding, and to have had music and dancing. I hoped to see your children, and now I must send you to the dragon!”
The princess wept and clung to her weeping father, and then she left him and went to the lake where the terrible dragon lived.
Now the people of Silena were pagans and did not know about God. But in nearby Cappadocia, there was a Christian named George, a soldier. He was told in a dream that he was to go to Silena. So he rode his horse toward that city, and when he went by the lake, he saw the princess, alone, and weeping bitterly. George stopped his horse and said, “Why are you weeping fair maiden?”
But the princess replied, “Good youth, mount your horse again quickly, and fly, lest you perish with me!”
“Do not fear!” cried George. “Tell me what you are standing alone here for, and why is the crowd, yonder, watching you?”
“Sir, I see you have a kind and noble heart, but fly – and at once, or we will both, soon be dead!” the maiden begged.
“Not so,” said George, “Tell me first, why you are standing here.”
Then the princess told him all.
“Be of good courage,” George said, “It was for this I was sent. In the name of Jesus Christ, I will defend you.”
“I do not know that name, brave soldier,” said the princess. “Please, do not seek to die with me – it is enough that I should die. You can neither save me nor yourself, from this terrible dragon.”
Just at that moment, the dragon rose out of the lake and bellowed fiercely. But George was not afraid. He made the sign of the cross and went boldly to meet the terrible dragon; “May God protect me – In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Then he raised his spear and flung it at the dragon’s neck. The spear pierced the neck of the dragon and pinned him to the ground. George called to the princess, “Have no fear, dear maiden! Take the sash from around your waist and tie it around the dragon’s neck.”
At this point the princess tied her sash around the dragon’s neck and the dragon followed her like a little puppy. As she led the dragon towards the city, the people fled in terror to the mountains and hills, shouting, “The princess is bringing the dragon to the city! Run for your lives, or we will all be eaten!”
But St. George called the people back, telling them, “You have nothing to fear! The Lord has sent me to deliver you from this terrible dragon. Believe in Christ and be baptized, every one of you, and I shall kill the dragon.” Then the king and more than 20,000 people were baptized and George took his sword and killed the terrible beast. Soon after that, the king built a beautiful church in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and George; the brave soldier. And from the altar in the church flowed a spring, whose water cured all kinds of diseases.
The king also offered a huge sum of money to George, but he refused the money and ordered it to be given to the poor. George then gave the king four instructions; 1) take good care of God’s church 2) honour the priests who would say Mass in the church 3) assist with devotion at the Divine Office 4) always help the poor and keep them in mind. Then George went on his way.
At this time, the Prefect Dacian had already killed about 17,000 Christians, during the space of a month. Many other Christians, on being threatened with torture, gave up, and sacrificed to the pagan idols! Seeing this, George gave away all he owned, laid aside his soldiers uniform, and clothed himself as a Christian. Then pushing his way to the middle of a crowd of people he shouted, “All your gods are demons and our God alone is the Creator of the Heavens.”
The prefect was angered, “How can you dare to call our gods – demons?” Where do you come from and what is your name?”
“My name is George and I come from Cappadocia,” George replied. With Christ’s help, I have conquered Palestine; but now I have left all that to serve God more freely.”
The Prefect, seeing that he could not win George over, commanded that he be stretched on a rack, and torn with hooks. Then his body was burned with flaming torches and salt was rubbed into his wounds. That night, Jesus appeared to George in a great light, and sweetly comforted him.
Dacian was then convinced that it was hopeless to torture George so he asked one of his magicians to overcome George’s stubbornness, by his magical spells. The magician tried to poison George, two times, but the soldier simply made the sign of the cross each time, over the wine, and drank it without being hurt. At this, the magician fell at George’s feet and begged his pardon, and asked that he be made a Christian. Then later, the magician was beheaded.
The following day, the Prefect ordered George to be tied to a wheel that was fitted with sharp knives, but the wheel fell apart at once, and the soldier remained unharmed. Then Dacian had George put into a huge pot of boiling lead, but the soldier simply made the sign of the cross, and was unharmed!
Dacian then tried to bring George around to his way of thinking by soft speech, saying, “Follow my advice – give up your superstition and sacrifice to our gods, and win great honours from them and from us!”
“Now you show me kindness!” George replied, “I am ready to go to your temple.”
The Prefect was delighted. He had the city strung with garlands of greens and flowers, and a huge crowd of people stood by, as George went into the temple. The Prefect and the people were hoping that George would sacrifice to the pagan gods. But George fell to his knees and prayed, “Dear God, please destroy this temple with its idols, so completely, that You will be glorified, and these people will be converted.” Instantly, fire came down from Heaven, and burned up the temple and the idols, and the pagan priests, as well. Then the earth opened up and swallowed up anything that was left.
Dacian was furious; as George was brought before him, he screamed, “You are the wickedest and evilest man that has ever lived. You have committed a great crime, by destroying our temple, and our gods, and our priests!”
To this George retorted, “You do me wrong by saying such things. Come along and watch me offer sacrifice again!”
“Fool!” Dacian shouted, “You just want me to get swallowed up, as you made the earth swallow up the temple and my gods.”
“Miserable man!” cried George, “How can your gods, who could not help themselves—help you?”
At this point, Dacian’s wife, Alexandria, said to her husband, “You cruel blood thirsty man! I told you not to go on killing the Christians, because their God would fight for them. And now, I too, want to become a Christian.”
The cruel Dacian then had his wife hung up by the hair, and scourged. While she was being scourged, she said, “George, light of truth, what do you think will become of me since I have not been baptised?”
George replied, “You have nothing to fear, Alexandria. The shedding of your blood will be both your baptism and your crown of martyrdom!” and with that, the poor woman prayed to God and breathed her last.
The next day, George was sentenced to be dragged through the whole city and then beheaded. While he was being dragged through the streets, he prayed, “Lord, please grant that all who will ask for my help, after I am dead, will have their prayers answered!” Then a heavenly voice said, “It will be so!” George’s head was then cut off. As for Dacian, while he was on his way back to his palace, fire came down from Heaven and killed him and his attendants.
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