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Slaying a dragon.....

shrine1.jpg

I've been thinnking about shrines today, some of my fellow bloggers have posted some splendid shrine photos recently and my fellow blogger Annie always has something beautiful to share!

This shrine I found last June in Parma, a wonderful small city in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. It depicts Saint George slaying his dragon. The inscription refers to the Order of St. Constantine Giorgio or possibly the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, the oldest international Roman Catholic order of chivalry.

According to legend, the dragon represents a multitude of woes, including the plague (a major preoccupation in Europe throughout the centuries) and of course, sin and hell.

I saw this theme of St. George and the dragon repeated from time to time across the Emilia Romagna and George is the patron saint of the regional city of Ferrara. Of course, St. George is an important image in many parts of Italy -- and the world.

According to the Golden Legend, St. George met the Dragon, possibly in Libya where the dragon lived in a huge lake and terrorized the population. They fed the dragon sheep until these ran out, then they offered their children, chosen by lottery. Finally, it came the turn of the King's daughter, who caught the eye of St. George. He seriously wounded the dragon to halt the attack, and then George also offered to protect the people by destroying the beast -- if they all converted to Christianity.

So, I imagine that this Parma shrine to George was intended as protection against plagues, demons, sins and other related woes.

Comments (8)

Sheep and then children? Interesting legend. For some reason, this shrine looks familiar. I wonder if I have seen it while in Parma. Do you remember where you found it?

sandrac:

Hi Girasoli, you might have seen it in Parma. It was right near the Church of St Mary of Steccata, on a street that ran along one side of the church. I had a very small hotel room with a very large balcony that looked right at the church -- it was a nice view!

Parma was a lovely little city, I'm glad that I saw it.

It's a cool shrine! Very prominent wings on that dragon. I didn't know that the legend took place in Libya.

I never knew the legend - thanks for sharing that! I remember being surprised at the many St. George and the Dragon plaques I saw above doors in Portofino.

Lovely shrine.
The representation of St George slaying the dragon is famous one in the Christian regions in the Middle East. Come to think of it, I don't think I know of any household for our relatives in the Bethlehem area that doesn't have an icon or painting of Saint slaying the dragon in their home.
I also remember my grandma and other ladies calling upon St George when they feel a danger is coming. Something I remember clearly was my grandma calling the Saint's name every time she hears sirens (ambulance or police).

sandrac:

Thanks everyone!

Candi, that is so interesting, I didn't realize that Saint George was so meaningful in the Middle East. I wonder what the historical roots of that are?

Sandra, your question got me curious so I googled Saint George and learned that he is one of the most venerated saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church (the dominant in the area I am referring to) and he is the patron Saint Palestine (and other countries and cities). No winder every other house there has a George. (Including my grandpa, father and brother).
Also, Saint George was most likely born in a city in Palestine. So there you have it.
Thanks!

sandrac:

Candi, that's so interesting, thanks for the information! George slaying the dragon is a powerful image.

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