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St. George stained glass window

This is my favorite stained glass window at our church. It shows our patron saint, St. George, slaying a dragon, which is about the most hard-core thing a saint can do. (Compared to him, you might call St. Francis a sissy.) Of course, being martyred is hard-core too…and St. George did that as well.

One reason I especially like this depiction is that it shows the dragon as being much larger than St. George, as one would indeed expect a dragon to be. By contrast, medieval depictions usually show a dragon that’s far smaller than St. George, being trampled by his horse as if it were merely a large lizard; that reflects the medieval artistic view in which the most important figure should be the largest, but it makes no narrative or perspective sense from a modern viewpoint. This stained glass window was made by a master craftsman in England more than a century ago, and there are reportedly a few other copies still in existence, though we don’t know where; someday I hope to stumble across one of the others in another church.

St. George is such a heroic figure that he’s even venerated outside the Christian faith, which isn’t surprising given that the dragon is a near-universal symbol of evil, with the notable exception of some cultures in the Far East. For example, the figure of al-Khidr in the Qur’an is commonly identified with St. George, and an interfaith shrine to St. George in Beit Jala, Palestine, not far from Bethlehem, draws Christian, Jewish, and Muslim pilgrims to pay their respects to St. George and seek his intercession.

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