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St. George, The White Horse and The Dragon

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 30, 2013

Happy Qedus George’s Day!

23rd of Meyazia / ምያዝያ / May 1st is Saint George’s Day in Ethiopia

The rest of the world celebrates it on April the 23rd. St George (the one who slay the dragon, and is almost always pictured on his white horse) is the Patron Saint of Ethiopia.

St. George and The Dragon

The equestrian saint became known in Ethiopia in the fifteenth century when his story was translated into Ethiopic, and he eventually developed into the patron saint of the nation.

St. George was a popular figure throughout the Christian East. He is almost always shown riding a white horse spearing a dragon found beneath him. Sometimes a young woman is shown in a tree symbolizing the princess that he rescues. Unlike other cultures in the East, Ethiopians called her by a name—Brutawit, literally the girl from Beirut.

The Ethiopian story, or life, of St. George is found in the text, Acts, Miracles, and Praises which is thought to have been inspired by a Greek source known through Christian Arabic language versions. Greek influence is also suggested by scholars who point to the legend of Perseus, who slew Medusa in order to save Andromeda, King Cepheus’ daughter. That story might have Ethiopian connections. Another opinion suggests that the equestrian saints, of which St. George is one, were a Coptic (Egyptian) development. Such figures were common in Coptic art during the early Christian centuries and could have influenced Ethiopians. A 5th-century sculpted relief shows the Egyptian god Horus spearing an evil spirit shaped like a crocodile.

Another Serpent Story

St. George was not the only Ethiopian fighter of serpents. The beginning of the Queen of Sheba’s story tells how, in the early days, a snake-dragon named Wainaba /ዋይናባ ruled and devastated the land of Ethiopia. Angabo / አንጋቦ, from the land of the Sabeans [east of the Red Sea], crossed the sea and offered to rid the country of the serpent if the people would make him king. He did not fight or spear the serpent, however, but tricked it into eating a poisoned goat. Angabo was made king. Makeda was his daughter and ruled after he died.

Although no direct connection can be drawn based on what we know, it is interesting to note that early religious cults in Ethiopia featured some snake-like deities or spirits.

Even a Google Doodle marked a week ago Saint George’s Day with an image of Ethiopia’s Patron Saint slaying a dragon.


A poll published last week by the IPPR, a Left-leaning think tank, suggests that seven out of 10 people living in England want Saint George’s Day to be a public holiday. Well, on Ethiopia’s Saint George’s Day they surely have a public holiday, as it falls on the same day as Labor Day.

The fame of St. Georgeincreased throughout Europe in 1265 by publication of the Legenda Aurea (The Golden Legend) by James of Voragine, a collection of stories which included that of George and the Dragon. Actual origin of the legend of George and the Dragon is unknown. It may have been begun by the Crusaders when they returned home but was not recorded until the sixth century. St. George was a prominent figure in the secular miracle plays performed in the springs of medieval times. Some hold the story to be a christianized version of the Greek legend of Perseus said to have rescued a princess near the Lydda where St. George’s tomb is located.

Boy scouting has its origin in England in 1907 -08. General Robert Baden-Powell was one of few heroes to survive Britain’s Boer War. He wrote the book ‘Aids to Scouting’ and was startled to discover many boys used the book as an aid to outdoor activities. He sought to convert his concepts of army scouting for men to ‘peace concepts’ for boys.

In his ‘Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell referred to the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian Legend and to St. George who was the Knights’ patron saint. He wrote, “He is also the Patron Saint of Scouts everywhere. Therefore all Scouts should know his story. St. George was typical of what a Scout should be. When he was faced by a difficulty or danger, however great it appeared, even in the shape of a dragon – he did not avoid it or fear it but went at it with all the power he could … That is exactly the way a Scout should face a difficulty or danger no matter how great or how terrifying it may appear. He should go at it boldly and confidently, using every power that he can to try and overcome it and the probability is that he will succeed.” From Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys (1908)

Baden-Powell also had a favorite rhyme about the Patron Saint:

My warmest good wishes I am sending to you
And hoping that the winter is through
You will start out afresh to follow the lead
Of our Patron Saint George and his spirited steed;
Not only to tackle what ever my befall,
But also successfully to win through it all
And then may you have an enjoyable spell
Of hiking, and jolly good camping as well

Saint George is a Patron of:

  • against herpes

  • against leprosy

  • against plague

  • against skin diseases

  • against skin rashes

  • against syphilis

  • patron saint of Amersfoort, Netherlands

  • patron saint of Appignano del Tronto, Italy

  • patron saint of Aragon, Spain st-george-ethiopia_

  • patron saint of agricultural workers

  • patron saint of archers

  • patron saint of Arcole, Italy

  • patron saint of Beirut, Lebanon

  • patron saint of Boy Scouts

  • patron saint of butchers

  • patron saint of Canada

  • patron saint of Cappadocia

  • patron saint of Carpeneto, Italy

  • patron saint of Catalonia

  • patron saint of cavalry

  • patron saint of Cerreto Grue, Alessandria, Italy

  • patron saint of chivalry

  • patron saint of Constantinople

  • patron saint of Crusaders

  • patron saint of England (by Pope Benedict XIV)

  • patron saint of equestrians

  • patron saint of Ethiopia

  • patron saint of farmers

  • patron saint of Ferrara, Italystgeorge

  • patron saint of field hands

  • patron saint of field workers

  • patron saint of Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

  • patron saint of Genoa, Italy

  • patron saint of Georgia

  • patron saint of Germany

  • patron saint of Gozo, Malta

  • patron saint of Greece

  • patron saint of Haldern, Germany

  • patron saint of Heide, Germany

  • patron saint of Hone, Italy

  • patron saint of horsemen

  • patron saint of horses 

  • patron saint of husbandmen

  • patron saint of Istanbul, Turkey

  • patron saint of knights

  • patron saint of lepers

  • patron saint of Limburg, Germany, diocese of

  • patron saint of Lithuania

  • patron saint of Malta

  • patron saint of Modica, Sicily, ItalyQedusGiyorgis23

  • patron saint of Moscow, Russia

  • patron saint of Nerola, Italy

  • patron saint of Order of the Garter

  • patron saint of Palestine

  • patron saint of Palestinian Christians

  • patron saint of Portugal

  • patron saint of Ptuj, Slovenia

  • patron saint of Qormi, Malta

  • patron saint of Riano, Italy

  • patron saint of riders

  • patron saint of saddle makers

  • patron saint of saddlers

  • patron saint of Senj, Croatia

  • patron saint of sheep

  • patron saint of shepherds

  • patron saint of soldiers

  • patron saint of Teutonic Knights

  • patron saint of Venice, Italy

  • patron saint of Victoria, Gozo, Malta


What was Billy Ocean’s most adventurous travel experience?

He says:

Going to Ethiopia. I’ve been twice – the first time was nearly 30 years ago – and I’m due for another visit. I like the calmness of the place and the people. I remember vast plains with just trees and animals. I’d be walking in the street and someone might say, “There’s a hyena round the corner.” We also ate with our hands out of a communal bowl, which is totally different, but I love joining in people’s culture. One thing I noticed about Addis Ababa, though, is the cold. It was absolutely freezing, but a different sort of cold to here. If you could wish yourself into something, I would live in Ethiopia.

Continue reading…

P.S: Billy Ocean will be at Saint George’s Concert hall in Bradford, England, next week, Wed 8th of Mai


11 Responses to “St. George, The White Horse and The Dragon”

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  9. Sistabindekakier said

    Today, I read Psalm 73:14 from the Orthodox Study Bible. This Psalm is numbered 74 in other bibles. It reads that God shattered the heads of dragons and gave him as food for the Ethiopian people. I believe this is related to your story of Angabo the Sabean who slayed the sea dragon in Ethiopia

  10. Eyob Gebregziabhear said

    Luke 24-48 You are my witnesses in these things. Jesus Christ told to his followers. St. George also one of the desendants of Apostles. He killed the dragon/devil.

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