The legend of Saint George and the Dragon tells of Saint George taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices.
While it seems unlikely that Saint George killed a fire-breathing monster, the legend of Saint George and the dragon is around 1,000 years old – and there’s no smoke without fire, as they say. The tale goes that a dragon made its nest by the freshwater spring near Silene in Libya. Townspeople had offered sheep as a distraction so that they could get water and when they ran out of livestock, they decided to offer up a princess as a sacrifice. Just then a knight from the Crusades, George, came riding by on his white stallion. He dismounted and drew his sword, protecting himself with the sign of the cross. He fought and slew the dragon, and saved the princess, with the people so delighted that they decided to convert to Christianity.
After moving to Palestine with his mother, Saint George rose through the ranks as a Roman soldier. He later resigned his military post and protested against his pagan leader, the Emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD), who led Rome’s persecution of Christians. As a result, George was imprisoned, but even after torture he stayed true to his faith. Diocletian had Saint George dragged through the streets of Nicomedia, Turkey, on the 23 April 303 AD and he was beheaded.
Because of his status as the patron saint of England, his namesake red cross which adorns the English national flag and of course his encounter with a dragon, Saint George is one of history’s most iconic figures.
Although no longer a public holiday in Great Britain, since 1222, there were times were 23rd April, St Georges Day was declared a public holiday.