San Mamiliano and the dragon: the legend of Giglio Island’s patron saint

Persecuted by Emperor Diocletian, San Mamiliano wandered on the waves of Mediterranean sea, from the coast of Tunisia to the sea of Sardinia. Until he landed on a small and almost unknown island, called  Monte Giove (literally “Mount Jupiter”). Here, one of the legends related to Giglio Island’s patron saint begins.

Mamiliano thought that he had finally found peace after the horrors of persecution. Instead, according to legend, the small island was jealously guarded by a wild and terrible animal: a huge winged dragon that had built there its “lair”.

Mamiliano could not allow that an impious creature like a dragon lived in that place. There was a furious battle between the Saint and the dragon. The winner of this epic battle was Mamiliano. And killing the dragon would bring a fabulous treasure (which became a legend itself) and a source of pure water.

Beyond the legend, the metaphor is more than obvious: Christianity that sweeps away the paganism from the island where maybe, in ancient times, there was a temple dedicated to Jupiter. And, after the death of San Mamiliano, Monte Giove took the name by which it is known today: Montecristo.


Image source: “Martorell – Sant Jordi” by Bernat Martorell – AA.VV.,El llibre d’or de l’art català, Edicions Primera Plana, Barcelona, 1997.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

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