Once upon a time, there was a horrible dragon who lived in a pond near a village called Silene. The dragon was terribly large with a pointed head and a flickering forked tongue like a snake. He had sharp curved claws bigger and sharper than any sword. Deadly, though he was, the dragon was also beautiful with yellow eyes like two large gold coins, shining and shimmering scales, red as the most precious rubies, and an elegant swishing tail with a spike at the end.
The dragon would often come near the village and eat any cows, pigs, and horses that he could find. The people of the village were terrified of the dragon, and no one was brave enough to fight him. This dragon was different from other dragons for he did not breathe fire. Instead, he breathed poisonous gas and spit venom. The gas and the venom infected the water in the pond where he lived, seeped into the ground all around, and caused the farmland to be useless for growing any food.
Sharp claws, poison breath, and venomous sludge are not even the worst part. The dragon would only leave the villagers aSharp claws and poison breath are not even the worst part. The dragon would only leave the villagers alone if they offered him piles of gold and a human child to eat once a month and because they feared him, the villagers gave him the offering.
One day, the villager chosen at random was the princess, who was well-beloved by all the people. She was beautiful to behold, with elegant features, long flowing hair, and a graceful disposition. The villagers were terrified of the dragon, but this was matched by the love they held for their princess.
On that very day, a Christian soldier named George, and his friend, Theodore, rode into town on horses. Both were equipped with fine suits of armor with scarlet crosses drawn on their breastplates, scabbards, and shields. They had come to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the village.
George and Theodore heard the crowd before they saw them. Making their way into the village, they saw the princess weeping and the village along with her. Those standing by told George and Theodore about the dragon and warned them to run away while they still could, for the dragon did not like visitors.
George, troubled by the situation, spoke loudly for all to hear, “Good sirs and kindly ladies, I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and God. I understand that there is a great serpent that plagues you greatly. Know this: my Lord is a dragon-slayer. He has died and come back from the grave by His own power. He will free you from this slavery, should you desire it.”
The people were unbelieving. “There is no way,” they cried. “The dragon is far too evil. You will be destroyed.” As much as they loved the princess, their fear won and they offered her to the dragon. George and Theodore insisted on accompanying them to the dragon’s pond. Before departing, George spoke to the crowd, saying, “Hear me: this lance in my hand is sharp and guided by the hand of God. He will have victory over your dragon.”
When they arrived at the dragon’s acid pond, a haze had covered the ground. George approached, with the princess, and said loudly, “Come out now, dragon. I have what is due to you.”
The dragon lumbered out of the pond and snarled at George, “Good, the princess is here. I desire to devour her. The villagers serve me well and I keep their minds in the darkness of fear.”
George wasted no time. He traced the Sign of the Cross over his body while boldly proclaiming, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Be vanquished by this holy lance and come under the power of Jesus Christ and the love of the Blessed Virgin Mary!” He charged at the dragon with all his speed and thrust the lance into the dragon’s side.
The dragon did not die, because dragons never die. But he was stripped of his power. George told the princess to remove her belt and tie it around the dragon’s neck. She began to walk the dragon around like a meek beast. The soldiers and the princess led the dragon back to the village. The people were terrified, but quite curious.
“How is it that the dragon has been pacified?” they exclaimed. George answered, “I told you. It is by the power of Jesus Christ.”
He continued, “You have cooperated with this beast for far too long. You have been delivered from this death and decay. Do you wish now to fully accept the power of Jesus who has saved you?”
They all cried out a resounding, “Yes!” That day, the entire village was baptized. As soon as the last person was baptized, the ground changed almost immediately. What was poisoned and dead was vibrant and alive. Crops looked like they had been growing for weeks. The pond no longer bubbled, and the smoke had cleared.
The dragon won many battles, but he had most certainly lost the war. The villagers were so overcome with joy that they wanted to make George their king. He declined, saying . “It is Jesus Christ alone who is your King, and His holy mother Mary alone is your Queen. Therefore, you are to build a great church dedicated to the protection of the Holy Queen of Heaven here in this square. Do not forget what God has done for you. And, if you see the dragon again, for dragons never die, remember who alone has power to defeat him.”
With that, George and Theodore rode off into the horizon and the village slept peacefully for the first time in centuries.
Image: Tilemahos Efthimiadis from Athens, Greece, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons