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St George with a Rifle

October 19, 2011

Two pictures of an Ethiopian Christian icon from the early 20th Century showing St. George protecting the Emperor (second picture, below), complete with traditional spear, but he is also carrying a rifle.  Generally if saints or angels are shown to be warlike they are shown in romantic armour, with swords and lances.  This hides the real sense of brooding violence that these images should convey.  We see the weapons and think of gentle knights from a Pre-Raphaelite painting like The Vigil by John Pettie. But in reality they are ready to fight, ready to explode into the sort of violence that we, thankfully, are unlikely to be able to even imagine!

This image of St. George, complete with rifle, reminds me of the uncomfortable reality of violence, in this world and beyond. This is something that, when abandoned by the Christian faith, makes that faith unreal. This refusal to accept reality as it is diminishes true faith, relegating a noble religion to the realm of fantasy.

So, I pray for peace in England, …. and keep the powder dry!

God bless.

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