A Post for Today, April 23

Another year’s worth of St. George images from the vault, kindly sent to me by friends, or gleaned from Internet browsing. 

1. Two renditions of the arms of a church of St. George in Hartford, South Dakota. 

2. From Chris Berard: a masked St. George fights the coronavirus. (St. George was a healing saint in the Middle Ages.) 

3. Chris Berard also alerted me to the existence of The Life and Death of St. George, To which is Added, The Song of St. George and the Dragon (1790). This engraving appears on the frontispiece. 

4. From the Facebook page of the Society of Bollandists: St. George as drawn by Salvador Dali (1971). 

5. From the Heraldic Bookplates Facebook group. 

6. From Facebook. Apparently this was put up somewhere in England, a mocking replacement for those statues that that mob tore down last spring. It shows a typical English prole – fat, poorly-dressed, and phone-addicted – emerging from a dumpster like Oscar the Grouch. For added insult, the legend “St George was Turkish” is emblazoned on the dumpster, outside his line of sight, a riposte to his notion that St George, England’s national saint, was English.

It’s true that St George, if he ever existed, never set foot in what is now England, and cannot possibly be considered ethnically “English.” But by the same token, he wasn’t Turkish either. He may have been from Cappadocia, and he may have been martyred at Nicomedia, both in what is now Turkey, but he was no more “Turkish” than some Woodland Indian c. 500 BC was “American.” In AD 303 the Turks were in Central Asia, nowhere near Anatolia. Only after AD 1071 did they start to take the place over.

He was probably ethnically Greek, hence his Greek name Georgios. But I guess it is extra insulting to the prole to cast his saint as Muslim and non-Indo-European.

7. From Wikipedia: Mattia Preti, St George and the Dragon (1678). 

8. From my colleague Pam Wilson, who took this photograph in Barcelona. 

9. I took this photo in Montreal in 2006. Pistrucci’s rendition of St. George as it appeared on the sovereign coin turned out to be very influential. 

10. From Paul Halsall: Sir Ninian Comper’s St Sebastian Altarpiece at Downside Abbey, which also features St. George and St. Nicholas. 

11. I took this in Southwark Cathedral in 2010. Did Comper do it too? It’s pretty much identical to the Downside one above. 

12. I took this one in the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2010. 


13. The Expressionist painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) did a number of St. Georges. This one from 1915 is probably the best known. 

14. Arms of James Whiteside Bridges of Montreal, granted by the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 2017.

15. The arms of George Politis, granted by the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 2013.

16. The arms of St. George’s School, Vancouver, granted by the College of Arms in 1984.

17. Twelve St. Georges representing the Swiss municipalities of Castiel, Chermignon, Corminboeuf, Kaltbrunn, Räzüns, Rümlingen, Liddes, Ruschein, Saint-George, Schanz, Waltensburg, and Stein am Rhein.

18. Il Sodoma, Saint George and the Dragon (c. 1518). 

19. By American artist Leonard Porter (1963).

20. From Walter Crane’s edition of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (1894-96).

21. This one never went into circulation. The European Currency Unit was the precursor to the Euro – and had the further advantage in that “Écu” was once the name of a French coin. I just like the fact that St. George is not bearing his familiar red cross shield, but the three lions of the kings of England. 

22. Initial Q, Recueil des Hystoires Troyennes, printed by Michel Topie and Jacques Heremberck (1490). 

23. Bernat Martorell, Saint George Killing the Dragon (1430-35).

24. From my friend Natasha Lee, a lithograph by Russian artist Natalia Goncharova, from a series entitled Mystical Images of War: Fourteen Lithographs (1913-14), on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 

25. Pietro di Lorenzo da Salò, Saint George Fighting the Dragon (1551-52).

26. I can’t find who did this one, but I love the damask background.

27. Lucas Cranach the Elder, St. George with Head of the Dragon (c. 1515).

28. Giovanni Bellini, Pesaro Altarpiece (detail) (1471×1483).

29. “St. George in the Renaissance Style,” by Harry Mate

30. A St. George by heraldic artist Andrew Stewart Jamison.


31. The rock band Toto, I discover, composed a song called “St. George and the Dragon,” which is the second track on their album Hydra (1979). Lyrics. YouTube.

32. Tintoretto, St. George and the Dragon (1555).

33. A friend’s Facebook profile picture. 

34. A birthday card from my daughter.

35. St. George and St. Christopher, fifteenth-century wall painting in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Pickering, N. Yorks. From Wikipedia, courtesy Paul Halsall.

36. “A stained glass window in the Redpath Library at McGill University is ‘in memory of 23 members of the McGill chapter of Delta Upsilon who gave their lives in the Great War.’ St. George, wearing the tabard of Delta Upsilon, stands over a slain dragon.”

37. An Ethiopian St. George posted by my friend Bruce Patterson. Note the toe-stirrup. 

38. A pattern on a tie, a gift from my ever-loving wife. 

Antonio Olmos, BBC.com.

39. From my friend George Goodall: a BBC article on the clocks of Windsor Castle, including one with a sculpture of St. George by Francesco Fanelli.

40. From my former professor Oliver Nicholson, an amusing and topical interpretation of a St. George icon. 

41. From the Facebook Group “Modern Art 20th Century: “Children watch the story of “Saint George and the Dragon” at an outdoor puppet theater in Tuileries Garden, Paris, France, 1963.” Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt. A comment: “Grande guignol puppets always had that effect on children.”

42. “Icon showing St. George and the youth of Mytilene,” about 1250, probably the Levant. Egg-tempera, pine, gesso. British Museum, PE 1984,0601.1. “This icon depicts a legend about a Christian youth enslaved by Muslims on the island of Crete. As the boy was about to serve his master a glass of wine he was miraculously rescued by St. George and transported back to his homeland. He is shown here behind the saint, still holding the glass. The subject-matter was popular with Christians as a piece of anti-Muslim propaganda. The icon, though resembling those produce in the Byzantine Empire, has certain western European features and may have been produced by a French artist working in the Crusader States.” I took this photo at the British Museum in 2010. 

43. “St. George defeating the dragon, a historiated initial from a Choirbook, illuminated manuscript on vellum [northern Italy (Verona), early 1490s].” From the Southeby’s Catalogue, courtesy Chris Berard. 

44. Phoebe Anna Traquair (Irish, 1852-1936), St George in Armour Being Kissed by Una (1914), detail reproduced on a card. The work is “one of a set of three embroidered panels depicting the Red Cross Knight from Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Coloured silks and gold thread on linen.” From the collection of the National Museums of Scotland. Kindly sent to me by my friend Kevin Harty.

45. Also from Kevin Harty: An awesome icon depicting St. George, his horse, the dragon, the princess, the pitcher-bearing boy, and everyone in Silene crowded into a tower. On the reverse: “S&K Greek Traditional Hand-Made Byzantine Icons. This icon is handmade using the old traditional Byzantine technique. It is an authentic collector’s copy of an old Byzantine icon painted by well-known iconographer of that day, the monks of the period. Made in the region of Thessaly in a small traditional workshop in Palamas Karditsas, in Greece.”

46. From Kevin Harty: Qes Adamu Tesfaw (Ethiopian, born 1933), Saint George Slaying the Dragon (1997). I love the “demon” riding the dragon. 

47. From the New Yorker (hat tip: Robert Black).

48. A miniature of St. George by heraldic artist Tania Crossingham


49. Bob Marley as St. George on the cover of his 1983 album Confrontation, based on the “Britain Needs You At Once” poster

50. “Kay spirituel – a Vodou temple in Pont-Sonde, Haiti (Photo by V. Joos, 2013).” From Practices of Freedom – Marronage in the Caribbean

51. From Medieval Warfare: “A portable Byzantine mosaic in a frame, dating from the fourteenth century. It depicts Saint George slaying the dragon. Now in the Louvre, Paris.” 


52. From Wikipedia: the reverse of Haile Selassie’s Imperial Standard. 

53. The insigne of Blue Ridge School of St. George, Va.

54. From Tim Furnish: a Greek fighter jet decorated with an image of St. George and the dragon. Googling reveals that a St. Michael jet also exists. 

55. Woodcut frontispiece from Alexander Barclay’s Lyfe of Seynt George (Westminster, 1515).

56. From the Facebook page of Our Lady of the Mountains (hat tip: Wanda Cronauer), with commentary:

On St. George’s feast day, we might reflect upon this beloved Saint George (for after all we are Georgians). Are there not still places in the world, including some places still in northern Africa, where churches are destroyed and Christian books are burned and even where Christians themselves are threatened and endangered by forces of darkness? Let’s put it this way. The Catholic author G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”


That’s all for this year. Many thanks to everyone who sends me these. And happy St. George’s day! 

St. George’s Banner

From Chris Berard, a short article on Medievalists.net, which I take the liberty of reprinting in its entirety:

St. George the martyr and his banner

By Steve Muhlberger

St. George is one of the earliest martyrs of the Christian church. He is also well-known in the present day if only for his banner – a red cross on a white background. St. George’s Cross flies above every continent, and represents, among other things, traditional power and legitimacy. Many soldiers now wear the cross as a sign of their military service. George’s extraordinary service is evoked by his well-known conquest of a dragon, which makes him one of the most impressive of all of God’s saints.

If St. George is venerated in the present day, his reputation reaches back to the Middle Ages and Late Antiquity. The old roots of this military saint allow us to appreciate the somewhat paradoxical relationship between earthly and spiritual power.

St. George is sometimes regarded as a purely legendary figure. His story, however true it may be, is typical of those told about martyrs of the age of the Roman emperor Diocletian (who reigned from 284 to 305), the foremost pagan persecutor of the 3rd century. George was from a Greek Christian family and a military background. He had attained one of the highest ranks when he heard that the emperor was forcing Christians to worship the Roman gods George felt compelled to register his dissent.

After he defied the emperor to his face, George was subjected to a long list of torments, and eventually succumbed. But George became one of the most popular saints in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Was George particularly regarded as a martyr because he used his earthly power – soldier’s strength in God’s cause? He certainly had plenty of strength and he had used it against a dragon, an evil monster with Satanic associations. Even today the most common depiction of George shows him on horseback battling the monster.

St. George’s reputation continued to grow in both east and west. His patronage remained especially important in the Greek provinces of the Byzantine empire, which were constantly endangered both by Muslims and even Christian neighbors. George became a figure of Christian unity when eastern and western churches became tangled in a debate over leadership in the Christian community. In the turbulent years around 1100, warriors and clergy competed for leadership of the churches, and Christians found themselves under attack by pagan raiders and invaders. Clerics – monks, bishops and abbots – needed protection from warriors but were skeptical of milites – soldiers, or later, knights – who devoted themselves to fighting and plundering, as they so often did. Too often these milites oppressed their Christian neighbors, when the warriors were needed to defend the Christians. Christian warriors, on the other hand, were proud of their military way of life. Prowess and honor and pride were the necessary ingredients for effective warriors.

Sometimes the ideal of Christian cooperation came true. The centuries after 1100 were an era of famous knights and holy war. The threat of Muslim expansion and intra-Christian conflicts required the clergy to muster princes to fight worthy wars. In 1066, for instance, William the Conqueror asked for a papal banner to bless his expedition to England, and the pope, at odds with the leading English bishops, sent him one. A generation later a far larger force including men who had helped William take England, marched and sailed to Jerusalem with papal authorization. The Crusaders, as we call them, were accompanied by Michael the Archangel, the champion who at the beginning of time had led God’s heavenly army against the rebel angels. In the second rank, though, was St. George, no mean champion and well known in the Christian East.

During the 12th and 13th centuries, St. George and other saints were invoked through the use of heraldic symbolism and banners. The saintly intercessors were regarded as knights, earthly knights being now a higher class of warriors than before. In the middle of the 14th century, St. George’s iconography became closely associated with worthy military men. King Edward III of England, for instance, appealed to chivalric sentiment to justify his flashy, ambitious projects. Foremost among them was St. George Chapel at Windsor, which was not only an impressive church but the seat of a chivalric order – The Order of the Garter. It was a shrine that among other things celebrated the foremost warriors of Edward’s realm and put the Order under the patronage of St. George.

Although Edward believed that he had a special link to St. George, he had no actual monopoly on  George’s claim to claim George’s patronage. The wars of the 14th century spawned mercenary companies of many nationalities, and various independent cities. It was quite natural for any of these Christian warriors to look to the great St. George as their special patron. How often, I wonder, did one bannered force face another? We know that it did happen in the Italian and French wars during the 14th centuries.

At the end of the Middle Ages St. George became more strongly associated with the important dynasties and states of Christian Europe. The red cross on white now flew over England, of course; the Iberian kingdoms of Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and Portugal; the Kingdom of Georgia; Serbia and Montenegro; Ethiopia; Russia; the wealthy and belligerent Italian cities of Genoa, Milan, Bologna and quite a few others; and many historic Greek cities.

In the early modern era, heraldry became increasingly systematic and the St. George flag became a permanent element in the symbolism of monarchical power. It was a practical custom too. The traditional flags came to be regarded as national and imperial flags, and as claims to ownership. In the era of oceanic exploration the famous captains flew flags symbolizing their allegiance to both the monarch and the patron saint. When an explorer planted a flag or flags over a newfound land, it was not merely a historic decoration; the banner had a legal and diplomatic meaning. An example of this can be seen in the flags of British North America (Canada). Today, more than half of the Canadian provinces celebrate the ancient ties to Britain by including the modern version of the provincial arms, which themselves include St. George’s Flag (and others include the English royal lion). A significant minority of the province of Quebec are less enthusiastic about the symbols of the Conquest by the British. Quebec once had a St. George’s Cross on its flag and its arms, but in more recent times has eliminated British symbols and replaced them with blue and white banners reminiscent of France, from where the settlers of New France came.

This one example of how imperial expansion wrote itself on the land and shows how the stories of warriors and martyrs helped make such figures as St. George the foundation of modern communities.  George, the ancient martyr and medieval knight, is still with us and is likely to display his power and his patronage for some time to come.

I’d like to state that my attitude towards St. George is not all that proprietary. If other people want to write about that fascinating figure, then go right ahead! I would love to hear their perspectives. However, I dare say that this article could be improved. It’s not just all the vagueness and passive verbs, it’s also such errors as:

• “The Crusaders, as we call them, were accompanied by Michael the Archangel.” No primary source that I’ve ever read records an appearance of St. Michael to the soldiers of the First Crusade. George, Demetrius, and Theodore were the three main ones. 

• “Quebec once had a St. George’s Cross on its flag and its arms, but in more recent times has eliminated British symbols and replaced them with blue and white banners reminiscent of France, from where the settlers of New France came.” Quebec’s blue and white fleurdelisé flag dates from 1948, and is based on the Carillon-Sacre-Coeur flag of 1902. I don’t believe that Quebec ever had a flag with St. George’s cross on it, unless the author is referring to a time when the Union Jack flew over Quebec, or to the Quebec Blue Ensign, which never really flew. Certainly, Quebec never had a cross of St. George on its arms, which were granted in 1868 and modified in 1939.

• Most important, we need to draw a distinction between a plain red cross on a white field (in heraldic lingo: “Argent a cross Gules”) and the veneration of St. George. The two things had little to do with each other originally, and even now you can find examples of the arms referencing things other than St. George, such as those of the city of Milan (patron: St. Ambrose), the diocese of Trier (patrons: St. Mary and St. Michael), and the Arthurian figure of Sir Galahad. The most obvious origin for these and other heraldic crosses is the idea of Christian warfare, i.e. crusading, but such crosses were not originally associated with particular saints. It stands to reason that the preeminent crusading saint should come to bear the preeminent crusading symbol, but I have a theory how exactly this happened: the city of Genoa (patron: St. George) bore a red-cross shield as its civic emblem, and Jacobus de Voragine, in the 1260s, inserted this detail into his account of St. George appearing to the Crusaders in the Golden Legend as a point of local pride. The huge popularity of the Golden Legend thenceforth ensured that a Genoese custom spread far beyond Genoa.* Edward I (1272-1307) went on crusade and in so doing acquired an affinity for St. George; he then deployed the saint in his wars against the Welsh and Scots, largely through the use of Argent a cross Gules in various media. The less said about his successor Edward II (1307-27) the better, and when Edward III (1327-77) assumed personal rule around 1330, he consciously sought to revive the glories of his grandfather’s reign, including his use of St. George. The chief evidence of this project is Edward’s foundation of the Order of the Garter (1348) with St. George as its patron, but plenty of other evidence exists for both the private veneration and public deployment of St. George throughout Edward’s long reign, including with the red cross banner. Unlike St. Edward the Confessor, St. George made the leap to becoming a patron saint of the English nation as well as the English royal house,** and thus did Argent a cross Gules come to refer to “England” as well as “St. George” – especially after the Reformation deprecated the veneration of all saints. From there the emblem spread throughout the British Empire, sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with St. Andrew’s saltire for Scotland (i.e. as the Union Jack), but always referring back to the metropole. Thus does decolonization sometimes inspire people to drop it. 

* See “Argent a Cross Gules: The Origins and English Use of the Arms of St. George,” The Coat of Arms 213 (Spring, 2007): 9-18.

** I have a theory about this too; see “Richard II and the Cults of Saints George and Edward the Confessor,” in Translatio, or the Transmission of Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Laura Hollengreen (Brepols, 2008).


An update to a recent post: according to an article in the Daily Mail, the depiction of St. Michael as used by the Order of St. Michael and St. George was changed in 2011 to make the devil more light-skinned. Click the link to see before and after images of the new design. But people like Sir Michael Palin, KCMG, are still opposing it currently because it’s too reminiscent of the death of George Floyd and police brutality in general. 

Time to make Satan more dragon-like, I guess. Or would that also be bad? Would it be reminiscent of the gratuitous killing of wild animals that Tony Blair tried to curtail with his anti- hunting laws? Then they could go after St. George, too!

I suppose I shouldn’t give them any ideas…

“Kindly Call Me God”

The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George was established in 1818 by the Prince Regent, who two years later became King George IV. It was an aspect of Britain’s meddling in the Mediterranean following the defeat of Napoleon, and used to recognize British allies in the region. People are now appointed to it for “extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country” or “important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs.” For instance, those prime ministers of Canada who received knighthoods (e.g. Abbot, Thompson, Laurier, or Borden) were mostly Knights Grand Cross or Knights Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.* It has everything one expects in a British order of chivalry: a chapel (in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London) with stall plates, crests, and banners, elaborate costumes, regalia, and rituals, a motto-circlet for a member’s coat of arms, and various officers with quaint names (e.g. chancellor, King of Arms, or Gentleman Usher of the Blue Rod).

Badge and Star of a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Wikipedia.

I do not know why the order was dedicated to St. Michael and St. George in particular (nor why a winged lion – the symbol of St. Mark – appears on the order’s collar).† Obviously Michael and George are warrior saints, although the Order is more for diplomats than soldiers. In its regalia the order seems to alternate between depicting St. Michael and St. George, as shown above in the sketch of the badge and star of a Knight Commander: St. George is on the badge, St. Michael on the star. 

Star of a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Wikipedia.

Here is a better rendition of the Order’s star, in this case for a Knight Grand Cross. Note that in this one St. Michael actually has wings, given that he is an angel. Note also what St. Michael is standing on, which became controversial this past week. From the Guardian:

Campaigners are calling for the redesign of one of Britain’s highest honours personally bestowed by the Queen because they say its badge resembles a depiction of a white angel standing on the neck of a chained black man.

The Order of St Michael and St George is traditionally awarded to ambassadors and diplomats and senior Foreign Office officials who have served abroad. 

The imagery on the award’s badge portrays St Michael trampling on Satan, but campaigners say the image is reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd by white police officers in the US that led to worldwide protests.

Both St. Michael and St. George kill dragons, but because St. Michael specifically killed the “old serpent, that is called the devil, and Satan,” his dragon is often more humanoid than St. George’s dragon.** An old post on this blog intended to illustrate different versions of St. Michael’s coat of arms also illustrates the variety of creatures that he subdues, some of which look like proper dragons, others of which look more like men (although grotesque). It is unfortunate that the Order’s standard depiction of the dragon is both humanoid and dark, while St. Michael himself is light-skinned, which is not a model we want for contemporary race relations. And in general, it is most unfortunate that one of the side effects of mediating reality through sight, as humans do, is that in many cultures lightness is “good” and darkness is “bad.” If you’ve got light you can see, if you don’t you can’t – thus does light come to be identified with knowledge and awareness, and darkness with ignorance and insecurity. Note the Roman anxieties about nighttime, reflected in their laws. Furthermore, in a time before the widespread availability of bleach it was expensive and difficult to keep white garments looking white, thus is whiteness associated with status and cleanliness. Such things have, unfortunately, influenced the reception of human skin tone. Although the amount of melanin in one’s skin is purely an evolutionary artifact of one’s ancestors’ exposure to sunlight, those with lighter skin found it flattering to believe that they were morally good in a way that those with darker skin were not. (Traditionally, among white people darker skin also indicated that one worked outdoors, and thus had less status than someone who got to stay inside – only with the advent of jet travel to sunny climes in winter did suntans become fashionable for white people.) In this way did Early Modern Europeans come to justify their version of slavery – it might be bad, but it’s not quite as bad to enslave those people, who are clearly morally inferior. It is true that in the European Middle Ages, some saints were regularly depicted as black, showing that Europeans knew about the subsaharan phenotype and that they believed that its possessors were capable of sanctity and salvation. But it is also true that they regularly depicted the devil and his minions as black, in a general reflection of the cultural significance of that color. Courtesy Paul Halsall, here are two images illustrating this phenomenon:

I think that this artistic convention has seen its day, and I am absolutely not against redrawing the dragon as it regularly appears in the insignia of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Make it more dragon-like, or keep it humanoid and make it some other color – green or red, perhaps. Heck, make St. Michael himself black! There’s no reason why he can’t be. It’s not a bad thing to dissociate “white” from “good” and “black” from “bad.”

Ethiopian St. Michael. Pinterest.


The post title is from a joke about the supposed arrogance of membership of the Order, deriving from the post-nominals for the three grades: CMG (Companion), KCMG (Knight Commander), and GCMG (Knight Grand Cross), which are jocularly interpreted to mean “Call me God,” “Kindly call me God,” and “God calls me God.” 

* Though note that Sir John A. Macdonald was a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, and you can see his stall plate in Westminster Abbey. He was appointed to the Bath just before the Victorian expansion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George beyond its Mediterranean origins.

† UPDATE: The seven Ionian islands, under British protection from 1815, had been part of the Venetian Republic until the 1790s; St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice. According to The Gazette, the Order’s badge:

showed St George for England on one side, with the Archangel St Michael trampling on Satan on the other, in an allusion to Napoleon being crushed by the allied powers. Both saints were surrounded by the motto auspicium melioris aevi, which is usually rendered as ‘token of a better age’, and perhaps reflected [Secretary of State for War Henry] Bathurst’s hope for the future of his Mediterranean enterprise when he signed the founding patent in 1818.

** Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Happy St. George’s Day!

I am grateful for everyone who sends me images of my favorite saint. This post features a year’s worth, plus some others I found while cleaning out my office.

An Ethiopian miniature at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library.

St. George on a war memorial at my high school.




From Robert Black.

The bookplate of a German doctor named George; note also the proper symbol of medicine!

Looks French and fifteenth century. You know the artist has great esteem for St. George, dressing him in blue, the most expensive color.

I love it when the dragon is surrounded by the human bones of its previous victims, like the killer rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

From Wayne Glowka: St. George’s Gate at Windsor Castle.

From the Bibliothèque nationale de France. That’s quite the harness.

A proper icon of St. George will be surrounded by a ring of pictures of all the tortures he suffered.

St. George (right) and St. Theodore on either side of a crucified Jesus. Yes, this composition features numerous anachronisms.

The original icon of St. George as a young soldier.

An illustration in the style of a fifteenth-century woodblock. I love the crescent over the princess’s head. 

I can’t remember where this one came from but it seems Persian in influence. St. George generally gets a white horse, and usually isn’t shown with a beard. Plus, that fiery cape is novel. (So is it really St. George?)

I like the composition of this one.

Don’t know where this one came from but it looks pretty nineteenth century and Romantic.

The label of an Italian Sangiovese wine from Di Majo Norante. (“Sangiovese,” I discover, is not the name of a saint, like San Francisco – it derives from Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter.” This makes sense, because otherwise they would illustrate it with a “San Giovese,” not San Giorgio.) I bought a bottle of this for each member of my dissertation committee.

A gift from my brother-in-law. Thanks!

Why should the Scots and Irish be the only ones with whiskies? And who better a patron than St. George?

From a friend of my dean Wayne Glowka, taken in a museum in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A photo from my brother-in-law, taken in Wartburg Castle.

From my friend Chris Berard: St. George and the Dragon 12th C, Byzantine Empire, Walters Art Museum.


From the “Byzantine Empire, Crusades and Caliphates in the Medieval World” exhibit (also courtesy Chris Berard).

From Kevin Harty, St. George in stained glass at Princeton University.

Regretfully, I can’t remember who sent me this one. Apologies!


From Chris Berard: Lady Chapel of Rochester Cathedral (c. 1910-18)

“To commemorate the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, this embroidery was worked by the Royal School of Needlework for the makers of Capstan Cigarettes” (magazine advertisement, 1953, gift of Ron Good).

A pop-up birthday card from my family. 

From the Anglican cathedral in Montreal.

From the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A Georgian St. George.

The front of a replica hockey sweater, courtesy Ron Good. It features the current coat of arms of Russia, and the name “Russia” in old-school Cyrillic, a detail I love.

An a parody of the current Russian coat of arms, illustrating an occasional occurrence under Putin.

From a rood screen in Cawston, Norfolk.

St. George statue outside Prague Cathedral. Photo: Maureen Boulton.

A 12th-century St. George Fresco from Svaneti region in Georgia. 

From Kevin Harty: “In Barcelona there is a hot chocolate shop called The Dragon of Saint George (Jordi  in Catalan).”

From Kevin Harty: San Jordi de Monserrat

I took this one in St. Augustine, Florida some years ago.

One of the Toronto subway stations is designated St. George. love the typography. I took this in October when I was there.

A shop on Bloor Street in Toronto.

This is Cape St. George in Newfoundland.

And here is a postcard from St. George island in Florida, which we visited back in 2014.

Kevin Harty sent me this card featuring a detail of Jaume Huguet, Sant Jordi i la princesa, from the third quarter of the fifteenth century, on display in the National Museum of Catalonia.

From Kevin Harty.

A chauvinistic belt buckle, from Kevin Harty.

From Kevin Harty.

From the Barcelona Hard Rock Cafe, from Kevin Harty.

I believe I got this one at Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Ill.

Another one from my collection from long ago.

My loving daughters make cards for me.

This one may be seen in the Children’s Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, Tenn.

From Daniel Mitsui. I love how this one does not show St. George in the act of spearing the dragon, but the princess leading the dragon with her girdle (which tamed the creature) back to Silene. 

Here’s a topical one that appeared recently on Facebook.


From my fencing colleague Tim Furnish: the Saint George’s Parry.

St. George’s Cross flag (for both England and Genoa), flying from Cabot Tower, Signal Hill, St. John’s, Nfld.

St. George at the Met

My friend Chris Berard sends me some images of St. George from the exhibit The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Thanks Chris – a great Christmas present!

This one came to the High a few years ago. It shows Maximilian I as St. George.

Albrecht Dürer!

Another one!

Hans Burgkmair (1473–1531)

“South German, possibly 1460-70”

Merry Christmas to all readers of First Floor Tarpley!

St. George’s Day Today

From my Orthodox friend Alex Nikas, news of a calendrical expedience:

Greek Orthodox to Celebrate Saint George’s Day on April 29

The annual celebration of Saint George on April 23 is one of the most important feasts in the Orthodox calendar. Almost all Greek households have someone called Georgios or Georgia among close or distant relatives or friends.

However, this year Saint George’s day coincided with Holy Tuesday.

According to the Christian calendar, whenever April 23 is within Lent, and therefore during the fasting period, Saint George’s day is moved to immediately after Easter.

This year Georgios and Georgias all over Greece and abroad will celebrate their name day on Monday, April 29.

This happened in England in the year 2000, when Easter fell on April 23; the Church of England moved St. George’s Day to May 5 (I think). I can state authoritatively on the basis of my own research that the English royal court moved the feast of St. George in the late Middle Ages if it conflicted with Holy Week.

Happy St. George’s Day!

For St. George’s Day (April 23), some images of the saint. My thanks to everyone who sends me these!

1. Courtesy Wanda Cronauer, a Greek St. George in action, from the Jerusalem Art Museum. I have never seen an oval-shaped icon before (if this is an icon).

2. Also from Wanda Cronauer: a sculpted St. George with plate armor and a flowing cape, in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

3. I took this photo at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2014, and I found it in their online catalogue. This ivory St. George was made in Cologne or Burgundy, although the AGO does not proffer a date when.

4. Here is a bas-relief St. George in Venice. My friend Anne Delgado sent me this.

5. Ditto.

6. My friend Brad Adams and his son beneath Donatello’s St. George sculpture in Florence.

7. Brad also sent me this St. George (and graffiti) from Venice.

8. My friend Todd Harper took this photo at Montepulciano, Italy, last June. It is by Angelo Righi (Orvieto, 1587-1603). The dead bodies in addition to the dragon are a nice touch.

9. My friend Malcolm Mercer sent me this photo of a medieval wall painting at Hungerford, Berks.

10. An illustration by Kay Neilson from the book Red Magic: A Collection of the Worldʻs Best Fairy Tales from All Countries (1930), sent by my friend Chris Berard.

11. From the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art, sent to me by Ken Wheeler. The dragon’s teats suggest that it’s female; Samantha Riches has a lot to say about the gendering of this legend in her St George: Hero, Martyr, Myth (2000).

12. “Klosterkirche St Georg und Martin, Weltenburg, Lower Bavaria, Bavaria, Germany” – shamefully, I cannot remember who sent me this.

13. An Ethiopian St. George on display in the Creation Museum (Petersburg, Ky.), courtesy Ruth Mattson.

St. George at the UN

Chris Berard.

My friend Chris Berard sends me a photo he took on a recent trip to New York City. This St. George statue is relatively famous: Zurab Tsereteli’s Good Defeats Evil (1990), located north of the entrance to the United Nations’ General Assembly Building. Given the Georgian nationality of the artist and the date of the installation, it would be tempting to see this statue as symbolic of the defeat of Communism, but the “evil” represented here is the Cold War itself – the dragon’s body is made up of pieces of US Pershing and Soviet SS-20 nuclear missiles.

It occurs to me that I’ve seen this image before, at the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas. There, it is rendered on a copper shield with cloisonné enamel artwork, by the same artist. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze presented this piece to Pres. Bush, presumably before 2003, when Shevardnadze was ousted from office as a result of the Rose Revolution.

Novi Georgii Sancti

My thanks to everyone who sends me images of St. George. Here are some newly-acquired ones:

From Arkadi monastery in Crete, courtesy of my friend Christina Heckman: a seventeenth-century “Hagios Georgios o Kephalophoros,” that is, St. George the Celphalophore. I have never heard of St. George as a cephalophore (own-head-carrier) – and note that he has sprouted a new head.

Also from Christina Heckman at Arkadi: St. George the Trophy-Bearer, complete with the pitcher-bearing boy.

From my friend Daniel Holmes at the British Museum. My guess is that this one is fifteenth-century and German.

My friend Kevin Harty enjoyed a trip to Spain and Portugal over Thanksgiving break, which included a visit to Casa Botines, a modernist building by Antoni Gaudí in the city of Léon, Spain.

Over the main entrance, a St. George killing what looks like a Komodo dragon.

From Ronald Good: a classic Orthodox dragon-killing icon, reproduced on a funeral card.

Another prayer card from Ronald Good, this one designated “Hl. Georg Das Drachenwunder – Ikonen-Museum, Recklinghausen.”