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Saint Sylvester and the Dragon

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Dragons again! (The last dragon story I did was Martha and the dragon.) One of the great dragon stories told about the saints is the story of Saint Sylvester and the dragon. The Legenda Aurea provides a nice, detailed version of the story!

I first became aware of Saint Sylvester when I was living in Poland because there you do not celebrate New Year's Eve - instead, you celebrate "Sylvester," since this saint's day is on December 31.

You can read more about Saint Sylvester at wikipedia, Catholic Encyclopedia online, Catholic Forum, Catholic Online, and at the St. Patrick's (DC) website. There is an English version of the legend by Caxton online, and you can find this story as #12 in Ryan's English translation. The Latin text below is #12 in Maggioni's edition. The emperor referred to in the first line is Constantine, who converted to Christianity.

Post aliquot dies ydolorum pontifices ad imperatorem venerunt dicentes: "Sacratissime imperator, draco ille qui est in fovea, postquam fidem Christi recepistis, plus quam trecentos homines cotidie interficit flatu suo." Consulente super hoc Constantino Silvestrum, respondit: "Ego per Christi virtutem eum ab omni cessare faciam lesione." Promittunt pontifices se, si hoc faceret, credituros.

Orante autem Silvestro sanctus Petrus ei apparuit dicens: "Securus ad draconem descende tu et duo presbiteri qui sunt tecum. Cumque ad eum veneris, eum taliter alloqueris: 'Dominus noster Ihesus Christus de virgine natus, crucifixus et sepultus, qui resurrexit et sedet ad dexteram patris, hic venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos. Tu ergo, Sathana, eum in hoc loco donec venerit expecta.' Os autem eius ligabis filo et annulo signum crucis habente desuper sigillabis. Postea ad me sani et incolumes venietis et panem quem vobis preparavero comedetis."

Descendit itaque Silvester cum duobus presbiteris in foveam per gradus CL duas secum ferens laternas. Tunc draconi predicta verba dixit et os ipsius stridentis et sibilantis, ut iussum fuerat, alligavit; et ascendens invenit duos magos, qui eos secuti fuerant ut viderent si usque ad draconem descenderent, ex draconis fetore pene mortuos, et eos secum adduxit incolumes atque sanos; qui statim cum multitudine infinita conversi sunt sicque populus Romanorum a morte duplici liberatus est, scilicet a cultura demonis et veneno draconis.

Maso-Di-Banco c. 1340 Miracle of the Dragon
(click here for larger view)


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