Popped into this charming 12th century church today. It got me wondering how George became a saint and where did the dragon-slaying come in? St George’s Church, Dittisham, a stunning village on the banks of the River Dart in Devon.
My thanks to English Heritage for the following explanation:
- Although St George is our patron saint, he was actually born in Cappadocia (Turkey)
- He died in Palestine
- He wasn’t a knight, but more likely a soldier in the Roman army
- He was described as a martyr. He was executed for refusing to make a sacrifice to pagan gods
- He never visited England, but became popular with medieval English kings
- And he never slayed a dragon!
The story goes that St George rode into Silene (modern day Libya) to free the city from a dragon who had a taste for humans, but it’s a story which post-dates the real George by several centuries.
Images of George and the dragon survive from the 9th century – 500 years after his death. Originally these may simply have been representations of the battle between Good and Evil. But the story was developed and popularised in the Middle Ages in a compendium of stories about saints’ lives, The Golden Legend.
(From English Heritage Website: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/whats-on/st-georges-day/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-st-george/)