Saint George and the Dragon

by admin on September 9, 2010

Regan O'Callaghan Saint George and the Dragon, Saint Georges Bloomsbury Church, London, Viz MagazineThis icon was a challenge to write. Saint George’s Bloomsbury a church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor was reopened to the public in 2006 following a 5 year restoration. As part of the celebrations of reopening the Vicar and Church Council wanted to commission an icon which reflected the ministry of Saint George’s in the heart of the West End. I visited the church on a number of occasions and met with church members to gain an understanding of life at Saint George’s. Eventually a design was agreed.

In the icon there are a number of interesting components. Dressed rather casually rather than as a knight or soldier Saint George is riding his horse down Bloomsbury Way. At the bus stop outside the church Saint George encounters a dragon in the gutter. However he doesn’t set out to kill this dragon but rather offers up a garland of flowers. The dragon in Christian art is a symbol of the enemy and something that needs to be destroyed but here Saint George seeks to meet  with this strange creature and to learn from it. The stranger the other‚ the foreigner‚ the person of difference are boogeymen in the minds of many. In this icon hospitality and pastoral care are shown as an important part of Saint George’s ministry. Whether it is shown to people living on the fringe of society, the homeless or the drinkers that meet on the steps of the church, hence the empty beer cans on the pavement, or to the Churches many visitors and tourists passing by, the Church wanted an icon that reflected an inclusive ministry. Even the news agents next door the finest purveyors of the latest VIZ comics‚ is included to show that Saint George Bloomsbury is found in the midst of one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse city’s in the world. The dragon is not to be feared here but rather the powerful scary looking horse upon which Saint George rides. A symbol of faith upon which Christians are carried, when the reigns are loosened faith will take a believer to unknown places to experience new challenges and learn new lessons. Faith requires the faithful to be courageous and step outside his or her comfort zones. A frightening challenge indeed!

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