Dragon Bones

Everyone knows about Saint George and the Dragon, but did you know that Saint Donato slew a dragon as well? Have you even heard of Saint Donato? There’s a church dedicated to him on the island of Murano (well, he has to share the title with Saint Maria, and she even gets top billing), and hanging behind the altar are the bones to prove his feat.

I went there yesterday to check it out. Here’s the church on the outside:


The dragon bones are on the other side of this wall.

Inside, there was a guy kneeling on the floor, over a sheet of thick plastic, using a Sharpie to outline

the mosaic tiles underneath him. They’re doing restoration work, and he was probably making a plan of the design before they remove and clean the tiles. Definitely hard on the knees!

Photography is not allowed inside, so I can’t show you the dragon bones. But as I was eating dinner last night, I realized that I could recreate the scene using the bossola bread (from Chioggia) that I was eating. Here’s approximately what it looks like, except the bones would be hanging below the picture. (Icon photo courtesy of the owner of my apartment.)


You can imagine my excitement at seeing actual dragon bones, and then eating a replica for dinner! Yet another great adventure in Venice.

And here’s the pretty bell tower and cloudy sky, purely for your enjoyment. I listened to the thunder last night for hours.



Update: A friend sent this photo, so you can see what the bones look like. I think mine are a pretty good copy, at least the bones, if not the painting, don’t you think?

1348 copy


About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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9 Responses to Dragon Bones

  1. The Art of Polemics Staff says:

    I never thought I would hear of a Saint slaying a dragon.

  2. Bert says:

    Thrice! – San Todaro (St Theodor) former patron saint of Venice was a dragon-slayer too. San Donato killed his dragon by spitting at it. Halitosis has its advantages.

  3. lizbert1 says:

    Who doesn’t like a dragon story!

  4. Jo'anne says:

    I love these quirky remnant of medieval legends…. A nice old church in Cologne also sports some whale bones that have for centuries been believed to be either dragon bones, or the bones of the whale that swallowed Jonas….! = Church of Sankt Maria im Kapitol. The real story is no less fantastic: apparently it is a Greenland whale that swam up the Rhine river all the way to Cologne.
    Closer to Venice, there’s also a whale bone hanging outside under the Arco della Costa in Verona!

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