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Norms: The Saints Collection | St. George

Saint George and his dragon must together comprise one of the most famous icons of a saint there is, not least in England where St George is our patron saint. Yet as I was to discover only last weekend, we English are not the only country to claim him as ours. In fact St George is likewise a patron saint in Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Portugal, Ukraine and Syria to name but a few. He is also, I have now learned, the patron saint of none other than Catalonia, the autonomous region of Spain whose capital is Barcelona. And so having just spent the weekend in that very city, there seems no better time than to present the very first Saint of a new Norm sketch collection – I give you Saint George Norm.

Legend has it that St George  defeated a dragon in the far off land of Silene. This dragon poisoned the air of a village, and in order to appease him, the people regularly sacrificed a lamb and a virgin who was chosen. One day the princess of the country met this fate; George killed the dragon and freed her, with the result that the Princess and the entire population were converted to Christianity; the religion behind whose cross St George had been protected as he valiantly fought the beast.

Here is my Saint Norm doing just that, killing the pesky dragon while his rather attractive horse looks on.

St George Norm (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen, ink and gold paint on paper)

St George Norm (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen, ink and gold paint on paper)

I realised that St George was something of a prominent figure in Catalonia only when I noticed statues and icons of the saint when exploring the old gothic quarter of Barcelona on my first day there last weekend. In the tranquil cloisters of the cathedral, a trickling fountain was topped by a bronze statuette of the saint valiantly riding his horse while trampling upon the dying body of the aggressive dragon. Then, upon walking past the city hall in the Plaça St Juame, I noticed the same venerable saint carved into the stone work of the city hall facade. Subsequent investigations reveal that “Sant Jordi” has been venerated in Catalonia since the 8th century, not only in Barcelona but also in Valencia and the Balearics. And in Barcelona itself, the Saint’s presence is felt not just in the obvious iconography – some say that Gaudi himself recognised the saint when he created his dragon-scaled roof atop the famous Casa Batlló.

Cathedral fountain

Cathedral fountain

DSC02536 DSC02540

Another cathedral homage to the dragon

Another cathedral homage to the dragon

Facade of the city hall

Facade of the city hall

Roof of the Casa Batllo

Roof of the Casa Batllo

DSC02847

So with all of this in mind, I leave you to pay appropriate reverence to St George Norm in all of his golden glory, and to look also upon the Barcelona references I found to the saint. But as if by way of further appropriate reference, I also leave you with this English poster using St George as an image to encourage patriotic Englishmen to defend the nation at the outset of World War One 100 years ago. A timely reminder of the continuing power of the iconography of St George to inspire both patriotism and bravery in a time when all faith and hope appeared to have deserted mankind.

Britain_Needs_You_at_Once_-_WWI_recruitment_poster_-_Parliamentary_Recruiting_Committee_Poster_No._108

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

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