The image of St George - the mounted, medieval knight slaying a dragon - seems so familiar to us all that it is tempting to assume this figure is easily understood. He is, in fact, one of the most significant and complex mythic figures in Christian culture, and has played an important role in Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and western European traditions over many centuries. Today St George continues to have a lively and diverse following: his various appearances can be found across many world religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and the African-Brazilian belief system Candomble. St George's identification with nature, springtime and healing means that he can also be found throughout pagan beliefs. St George: A Saint for All includes firsthand accounts of celebrations in Georgia, Greece, Malta and Belgium, and explores the iconic figure's wide-ranging significance in nations such as Leban, Palestine, Ethiopia and Estonia, as well as his totemic role for the Roma people. With or without the dragon, St George has been repeatedly reinvented over the last 1,700 years. This book is an engaging account of the huge potential that artists, poets and painters have found in his myth, discussing the often controversial political uses to which the saint has been put, including many reworkings and reimaginings, and places his current cultural position in its historical context. This is the first book to offer a full overview of the cult of St George, from its beginnings in the eastern Mediterranean to its established presence around the world today.
Samantha Riches is a cultural historian based at Lancaster University. She is the author of Gender and Holiness: Men, Women, ans Saints in Late Medieval Europe (2011) and St George: Hero, Martyr and Myth (2005).