The Legend of Saint George and the Dragon seems like an appropriate one to ponder on during this pandemic. If we think of the pandemic and the turmoil and destruction that accompanies it as the Dragon, perhaps the story will resonate for us today.
According to tradition, a terrible, fierce dragon was terrorizing the city of Silene, Libya by demanding two sheep per day to be sacrificed to him. When the people ran out of sheep, they had to sacrifice humans. Eventually, they decided to sacrifice the king’s daughter, and no one offered to take her place. Enter George who wouldn’t allow the dragon to kill her. Saint George saved the king’s daughter by slaying the dragon with his spear.
The king was so grateful that he gave riches and treasures to Saint George as a reward. Saint George refused the reward and gave it instead to the poor. Many people witnessed this and were so amazed that they were baptized and became Christians.
When I was painting this Icon, I was praying for the poor and all those afflicted by the virus. It is the poor that will suffer greatly and I hope this Icon can help others direct their prayers to alleviate the sufferings of the poor also.
The Call to Holiness
The “call to holiness in today’s world” that Pope Francis issued in 2018, inspires each Christian regardless of title or giftings to walk the everyday path to holiness by staying close to Jesus and loving our neighbors, “each in his own way”. In reading Robert Ellsberg’s ” A Living Gospel, Reading God’s Story in Holy Lives”, I realize the importance of saints in our world today.
The saints of old, from hundreds of years ago serve as archetypes for modern day saints, but with a difference. Today we can see saints in the lives of those around us- hospital workers, those serving the poor, our grandmothers- these all become part of the great cloud of witnesses that help us today through God’s love.
In the Saint George Icon, on the upper right hand corner you see the hand of God reaching out, blessings and helping Saint George to have the victory over the dragon. It is these every day saints that bring God’s help and blessing to us today.
Saints of Today
To quote Pope Francis again, “We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs and spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.”
The above is born out in the story of Tobit and the Archangel Raphael in the Apocrypha. Unbeknownst to Tobit, the archangel Raphael accompanied him on his journey and was instrumental in healing the blindness in Tobias’ eyes. It was through the journey together that the angel had the opportunity to bless Tobit and his family. These are just two icons I can think of as healing icons, perhaps we can write about many more. This is a good time to bring them out and share them with our families friends and churches.