Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 23 November |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Miguel Pro
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Finding Faith: A Christian dragon tale told in stained glass

Photo by Lucien de Guise, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Lucien de Guise - published on 05/31/20

This 16th-century window features a story about St. John the Evangelist and a tiny dragon.

A series that looks at the visual arts for signs of the universal Church in sometimes unexpected places.

J.K. Rowling has just released the first part of a new children’s book for lockdown. Unlike the Harry Potter stories, it doesn’t seem to feature dragons. In Christian tales, dragons tend to be an inspiration for Potter-land: super-sized and frequently fire-breathing. This is the stuff of the Golden Legend, written in the 13th century and the main source of information on St. George the dragon slayer.

ST John the Evangelist; DRAGON
Photo by Lucien de Guise, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Photo by Lucien de Guise, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Less well known is the Golden Legend’s tale of St. John the Evangelist, who lived by the pen rather than the sword. He was tricked into drinking poison, which he then turned into a diminutive dragon to avoid drinking it. The story lacks some of the literary drama of St. George, but was popular among artists. This stained glass is from 16th-century Germany, where the visual possibilities of a tiny dragon were understood but not always easy to see unless you knew what you were looking for.

Lucien de Guise is on Instagram @crossxcultural. As a Catholic writer, editor, curator and former museum director, his aim is to build bridges through art.

ArtCatholic history
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Theresa Civantos Barber
5 Quotes from the saints to help you deal wit...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Learn to pray with Mary with these 12 insight...
Giuseppe Moscati
Larry Peterson
A volcano, a plague, a war: This doctor-saint...
J-P Mauro
Cardinal calls Catholics to attend global Euc...
Luz Ivonne Ream
What’s the secret of this couple’s 64 years o...
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.