Stories of Festival

The legendary Dragon of Rhodes

In 1332, some eighteen years after the conquest of Rhodes, from the Knights of St. John, the whole island was filled with dismay by the ravages of an enormous creature, living in a morass at the foot of Mount St. Stephen (at an area, then called: ‘Mal Paso’) about two miles from the city of Rhodes. Tradition calls it a dragon. The pilgrimage to the Chapel of St. Stephen, on the hill above its lair, was especially a service of danger for pilgrims as well as for children and shepherds.

Several knights had gone out to attempt the destruction of the creature, but not one had returned, and at last the Grand Master, Helion de Villeneuve, forbade any further attacks to be made. The dragon is said to have been covered with scales that were perfectly impenetrable either to arrows or any cutting weapon; and the severe loss that encounters with him had cost the Order, convinced the Grand Master that he must be let alone.

However, a young knight, named Dieudonné de Gozon, was by no means willing to acquiesce in the decree; He requested leave of absence, and went home for a time to his father's castle of Gozon, in Languedoc; and there he caused a model of the monster to be made and trained his horse and dogs to attack on it. He had observed that the scales did not protect the animal's belly, though it was almost impossible to get a blow at it, owing to its tremendous teeth, and the furious strokes of its length of tail.