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.