Today is April 24, the feast day of St. Elizabeth the Wonderworker of Constantinople, who is also known as St. Elizabeth the Dragon-Slayer.
St. Elizabeth happens to be the patron saint of Catherine’s best friend, Elizabeth.
No, it doesn’t say anywhere in Catherine’s Pascha who Elizabeth’s patron saint is. Or Catherine’s either. But when you’re writing a story, you know more about the characters than you ever put in the story.
Catherine’s patron saint is Catherine of Alexandria. St. Catherine’s feastday is November 24, which means that Catherine’s name day always falls during Advent. She thinks it’s totally unfair, to have a name day during Advent. At least her godmother always makes her chocolate cake for her name day.
But let’s go back to Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s name day can fall during Lent or Holy Week, or after Pascha, depending on the date of Pascha that year. When Elizabeth’s name day is after Pascha, her family throws a big name day celebration for her, featuring lots of dragons.
When St. Elizabeth was the abbess of a women’s monastery in Constantinople, the emperor decided to give her monastery a piece of land. The additional land would allow them to grow more food. There was a catch, though. The piece of land had a cave with a dragon! Nobody could grow food there, because the dragon was very fierce.
So St. Elizabeth did what any sensible abbess would do. She went to the dragon’s cave and said, ‘Dragon, come out!’ And when the dragon came out, she grabbed it by the tail and stomped on its neck. And that was the end of the dragon.
St. Elizabeth was also a wonderworker. She healed people of all manner of infirmities, whether of the body or of the soul. That’s one of the reasons that Elizabeth’s parents chose St. Elizabeth as their daughter’s patron. Elizabeth, on the other hand, thinks it’s very cool to have a patron saint who was tough enough to stomp on dragons.
About the Icon
The icon of St. Elizabeth is by the hand of Andrea Ward. She was an iconographer, an artist, an artisan, and a friend. May her memory be eternal.
St. George and the Dragon: A Review: In Jim Forest’s telling of the story of St. George and the Dragon, St. George rescues the maiden, but he doesn’t kill the dragon. He tames it.
Sasha and the Dragon: A Fairy Tale with Angels: If you’re looking for gorgeous, exciting, wonderful stories that reach into a child’s heart and show them everything that is there, you want this book.
Vasily and the Dragon: A Review: In this Russian fairy tale, St. Nicholas plays a major role in helping Vasily the Unlucky overcome all his troubles.
Buy the Books!
These delightfully diverse books provide disability representation (Elizabeth, one of the main characters, is an ambulatory wheelchair user). They also give Orthodox Christian children the rare opportunity to see themselves in books, and children who are not Orthodox the chance to see cultural practices they may not be familiar with.
FINALIST IN THE 2015 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS
Catherine doesn’t like vegetables. She doesn’t like naps. She doesn’t like it when her mom combs her hair. She loves hot dogs, chocolate cake, and her best friend, Elizabeth. Most of all, she loves Pascha! Pascha, the Orthodox Christian Easter, is celebrated in the middle of the night, with processions and candles and bells and singing. And Catherine insists that she’s not a bit sleepy.
The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
Shoes or stockings? Horse or sleigh? Does St. Nicholas visit on December 6 or on Christmas Eve? Will a little girl’s prayer be answered? When Elizabeth has to stay at Catherine’s house, she’s worried about her grandmother, and worried that St. Nicholas won’t find her. The grownups, though, are worried about snow.