There are various versions of the legend of St George and the dragon, each one hinting at different origins. In one, the dragon is a (real) crocodile, which has made its nest at the spot where villagers go to draw water. In order to draw water safely, they offer – literally sacrifice – a sheep to the crocodile each day. When they run out of sheep, they offer their daughters, chosen by drawing lots. On the day George arrives it is the princess, the daughter of the local monarch, who has been chosen. Apparently the monarch cannot conceive another way of dealing with the crocodile. Even the privilege of being a princess cannot save the maiden.
Whatever lies behind the legend, this telling reminds us that women are so very often considered expendable by men. We might lament their sacrifice, but resign ourselves to it, for the greater good. Sadly, Here Be Dragons that still live and breathe and have their being, sat imperiously on the very place where we would draw life.
Any man, then, who would claim St George as patron, must demonstrate the worth of his claim by slaying such dragons. Not because women are damsels in distress who need to be rescued, but because those who feed the monster need to repent and believe.
On St George’s Day, here’s to the women among us. May we all be set free from fear, and from the injustice that comes from fear.