The Church celebrates today the feast day of Saint George. Being one of the most popular and venerated Saints in Christianity, George is also very frequently depicted in many medieval manuscripts: although many are the legends surrounding the Saint, the most well-known one is, without doubt, the legend of the dragon - namely in the version from Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda aurea (ca. 1260).
According to the legend, St. George was a knight and born in Cappadocia. One day as he was traveling through Lybia, he came to a city called Silene, which was plagued by a venom-breathing dragon living in a large pond nearby. The people of Silene were used to sacrifice two sheep a day in order to feed the dragon; however, as they began to have less and less sheep, they were forced to start feeding him humans. One child was thus randomly chosen by lot each day and offered to the dragon, no matter his or her social status. Chance was that one day the lot fell on the king's daughter: the king, devastated, tried to bargain the life of the princess with silver and gold, but his people refused. The girl, dressed up as a bride, was thus sent to the pond.
As the princess was waiting for her fate, St. George happened to pass by the pond: when she tried to send him away, fearing he would die too, the knight refused and promised to save her. The dragon then suddenly emerged from the pond and attacked the two but, quick on his horse, George pierced it with his spear. The Saint ordered the princess to tie her girdle around the dragon's neck: as she did so, the huge beast immediately started following her around like a meek animal. The two thus led the beast into the city for the people to see. Promising to slay the dragon if the whole town swore to believe in Jesus, George baptized the king and all his people and finally beheaded the dragon. A church in honor of the Virgin Mary was then built in Silene, in which was a miraculous fountain that granted health to those who drank its waters. Asking for the king to be more generous to his people in the name of Christ, St. George finally left the city.
"Saint George slaying the dragon", illumination from the "Franciscan Breviary", ms. 004, f. 466r, ca. 1430, Bibliothèque Municipale, Chambéry.