Museum of the Bible presents “Dragon Slayers,” an exhibit examining three dragon slayers who appear in a medieval book of hours in the museum collections.
Dragons haunt the Western consciousness as symbols of evil and danger. They challenge valiant heroes who must slay the dragons, even at the cost of their own lives. A late fifteenth-century illuminated book of hours in the collections contains images of three dragon slayers commonly portrayed in medieval art—Michael the archangel, St. George, and St. Margaret of Antioch.
Archangel, Myth, Legend
Michael the archangel appears in three books of the Bible (Daniel, Jude, and Revelation) as the defender of the people of Israel and opponent of the dragon Satan. Medieval Christians expanded his role into a defender of the church and the guide of souls into the afterlife.
Good Knight . . . Sweet Princess
Historians question whether St. George really existed. A medieval work, the Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend), relates that before he was martyred for his Christian faith, St. George slew a dragon and saved a damsel in distress. This story inspired medieval knights and soldiers down to the present.
The Legenda Aurea relates that St. Margaret of Antioch defeated the devil twice. First, the devil took the form of a dragon and swallowed her whole, but she made the sign of the cross and burst out of its belly. When the devil reappeared in human form, she threw him to the ground and beat him.
Museum of the Bible invites all people to engage with the Bible through museum exhibits and scholarly pursuits. The 430,000-square-foot museum dedicated to the history, narrative, and impact of the Bible is located just three blocks from the US Capitol in Washington, DC.