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Medieval Dragons

Bestiaries | Bishop Jocelyn of Wells in Somerset | Saint Margaret and the Dragon


The Aberdeen Bestiary on the dragon from a medieval Latin course taught by Laura Gibbs at the University of Oklahoma.

"The dragon's strength lies not in its teeth but its tail, as the Devil, deprived of his strength, deceives with lies those whom he draws to him."

Latin text of the Aberdeen Bestiary with images and above translation, also on this page. Very easy Latin, if you can get over some quirks.

Bishop Jocelyn of Wells in Somerset

BBC: "Villagers prepare to slay dragon" about an upcoming twice-a-century dragon-slaying reenactment by the citizens of Wells in Somerset. The event commemorates the 13th century dragon killer Jocelyn, Bishop of Wells. The theory is that omitting the celebration would bring the dragon back to life. (October 31, 2001)

The Worminster Dragon Mosaic. Website by Kate Rattray documents a 2002 mosaic depicting the story of the Somerset dragon and his defeat by Jocelyn, Bishop of Wells. Rattray and local residents (mostly schoolchildren) collaborated in designing and implementing the mosaic. The website includes photos of the mosaic, and her essay The Story of the Making of the Worminster Dragon Mosaic.

The Dragon Mosaic Story, from Wells Central Junior School.

Saint Margaret and the Dragon

13c. Middle English verse life of St. Margaret of Antioch, edited with notes by Sherry L. Reames. From it:

"Holye mayde Margarete loked her besyde.
There sche sawe a lothelye dragon in a corner glyde,
Brennynge as the blake fyre. His mouthe he gaped wyde.
That mayde wexed alle greene as the gresse in someres tyde." (lines 179-182)
Reames has written an introduction to the life which is without question the best general overview of the Margaret legend on the web, and the English cult in particular.
"St. Margaret is also one of the most common subjects for wall paintings in England; some churches have her entire life - as many as twenty scenes - adorning their walls."

1913 Catholic Encyclopedia entry by J. Macrory.

"Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant."
Surely this is because giving birth is not unlike a dragon splitting open to reveal a saint! And virgins often have charge of childbirth, witness the Greek goddess Artemis.

Nineteen images of St. Margaret emerging from the dragon from the National Library of the Netherlands (Icon class 11H(GEORGE)41).

Patron Saints Index: Margaret of Antioch. Website authored by Terry H. Jones. Each saint is nicely hyperlinked to other saints. There is also a gallery of images of St. Margaret.

St. Margaret of Antioch Church: Lower Halstow, Kent has a good page on St. Margaret.

"Which St. Margaret is the Patron of this Parish?" Maryland parish debates St. Margaret of Scotland and of Antioch, with most correspondents favoring the Scottish one, and employing friendly Scottish nationalism ("St. Margaret's of Antioch? . . . Come along, Melissa Moss, have you lost all of your Celtic?").

Good entry by Katherine I. Rabenstein, Saint Patrick's Church, Washington, D.C.

Page on Margaret from St. John's, Hartford, Connecticut (Anglican). They have an 1890s stained glass.

Paper mache sculpture of St. Margaret, by artist Kate Hodgson.

Prayer to St. Margaret of Antioch (in Dutch?) with St. Margaret emerging from the dragon, from a Book of Hours and Prayer Book, (Netherlands, c. 1375-1400)

Google Directory: St. Margaret of Antioch.

Latin hymn to Saint Margaret from the Burnet Psalter (15c), Aberdeen University Library.

If you enjoy this site you may like this other site by me:

Mermaids on the Web. Similar site, with over 1,320 pictures .

Angels on the Web. Images and other web resources on angels in Western culture, religion and art.

Griffins in Art and on the Web. Like this site, but Griffins.