George was a soldier in the ancient Roman Empire. He was a Christian, and at that time the emperor had decided to imprison or even kill people who followed that religion. So George escaped on horseback, traveling to the North African land of Libya.
Near the Libyan city of Silene there was a lake, and beside the lake lived a dragon, who poisoned the city with his hot breath whenever he approached. To make the dragon stop poisoning them, the people of the city agreed to give him two sheep every day. Unfortunately, after a while, they ran out of sheep. In place of the sheep, the dragon demanded that each day, the city give him two of their children to eat. The children were chosen by a lottery. All the children of the city were included in the lottery, even the king’s daughter.
One day, the king’s daughter’s name came up in the lottery. The king cried and moaned, and said to his people, “Take all the gold and silver that I have, but let my princess live.”
The people said, “You don’t mind when other people’s children are killed and eaten, but when it’s your daughter, you weep and wail. No, she will be sacrificed like all the others.”
“Pease, just give us one week’s grace,” the king begged.
The city’s folks agreed. But after a week had passed, they came to the king and said, “The dragon is poisoning us again. Your daughter must go.”
Grieving, the king dressed his daughter in her finest garb and sent her to the dragon’s den.
Now, George was traveling in Libya and happened to be passing by on his horse as the princess was delivered to the dragon. When he saw the young woman sobbing, he asked her why, and she told him her story.
“I will kill that monster,” George said.
“No, he will kill you if you try. You cannot save me; only save yourself.”
As they were talking, the dragon rushed up, breathing out smoke. George drew his spear, galloped straight at the dragon, and wounded it in the chest. Then he said to the girl, “Tie your belt around the dragon’s neck, and come with me.”
George, followed by the princess, pulled the dragon into the city, using the belt. When he entered through the gate, the people fled in fear.
“ Don’t be afraid,” George called to them. “If you agree to become Christians, I will slay the dragon for you.”
They agreed, and the saint sliced off the dragon’s head. Later, he built a church in the city, beside a fountain, and it was said that people who drank from the fountain were healed of diseases. Much later, the people of faraway England made Saint George their special saint.
Source: Saint George and the Dragon
Retold by Richard Cohen, Exploros, Inc. CC BY-SA 4.0