I'm a huge fan of dragon stories. I'm rewriting a novel I've written on George and the Dragon. It will be part of a multi-volume series (If there are any agents, editors, or publishers out there interested in it, please let me know!). Anyway, here's an unusual dragon story that I've never heard. I found out about it in an unusual way.
In the days running up to Christmas, my wife was working hard preparing for Christmas. This year we had my parents, siblings, uncle, grandmother and our Muslim Somalian friend for Christmas. My wife was understandably stressed as she prepared the house and food.
I was the market picking up a few last items for our Christmas feast when I noticed a "Catholico" candle section. I picked out a "Saint Martha" candle and made my way to check-out line. You probably remember that Martha is the patron saint of stressed housekeepers:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”The moral of the story: Stop and talk to Jesus while you work. Work, even when done for Jesus, needs to be punctuated with prayer and contemplation.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).
Anyway, back to the candle. So later on I noticed that there was a dragon in the background of the image on the candle. On top of that, the prayer on the back of the candle mentioned "the dragon" that Martha overcame. What the heck?! George and the dragon, sure. But Martha and the dragon? This was news to me.
So I looked into it and here's what I found in the Golden Legend (the 13th century medieval bestseller about the saints). The legend states that Saint Martha left the Holy Land and moved to Gaul (modern day France)...where she encountered an evil dragon:
There was that time upon the river of Rhone, in a certain wood between Arles and Avignon, a great dragon, half beast and half fish, greater than an ox, longer than an horse, having teeth sharp as a sword, and horned on either side, head like a lion, tail like a serpent, and defended him with two wings on either side, and could not be beaten with cast of stones ne with other armour, and was as strong as twelve lions or bears; which dragon lay hiding and lurking in the river, and perished them that passed by and drowned ships.The story is obviously mythical, but fun all the same. This dragon was spawned by Leviathan and Bonacho. I wonder what a Bonacho beast is?
He came thither by sea from Galicia, and was engendered of Leviathan, which is a serpent of the water and is much wood, and of a beast called Bonacho, that is engendered in Galicia. And when he is pursued he casts out of his belly behind, his ordure, the space of an acre of land on them that follow him, and it is bright as glass, and what it toucheth it burneth as fire.
To whom Martha, at the prayer of the people, came into the wood, and found him eating a man. And she cast on him holy water, and showed to him the cross, which anon was overcome, and standing still as a sheep, she bound him with her own girdle, and then was slain with spears and glaives of the people. The dragon was called of them that dwelled in the country Tarasconus, whereof, in remembrance of him that place is called Tarasconus, which tofore was called Nerluc, and the Black Lake, because there be woods shadowous and black. And there the blessed Martha, by licence of Maximin her master, and of her sister, dwelled and abode in the same place after, and daily occupied in prayers and in fastings, and thereafter assembled and were gathered together a great convent of sisters, and builded a fair church at the honour of the blessed Mary Virgin, where she led a hard and a sharp life. She eschewed flesh and all fat meat, eggs, cheese and wine; she ate but once a day. An hundred times a day and an hundred times a night she kneeled down and bowed her knees.