The day had started out well for Saint George. That was not unusual, because in Heaven, all days start out well. They also continue well, and end well. Heaven is a happy place.
Saint George made his plans for the day. Listen to the Heavenly Choirs, and when the weather was fine, maybe ride a cloud in the afternoon. His life had become easier over the years. People didn’t pray like they used to, and when they did, they mostly didn’t pray to him. England was in no particular trouble either, so his duties as an active saint had become rather modest lately.
His quiet musings were suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door of his spacious celestial room. Without even waiting for him to answer, the Archangel Michael stepped in. George really liked Michael, and thought they had a lot in common, so he greeted him with a cheerful: “Hey Mike! What’s up?”
But there was a somber look on the Archangel’s face. “George…. you’d better sit down. I’m not quite sure how to say this, but there’s news from Rome.”
As sudden anxiety befell George as he followed up on Michael’s advice and pulled over a seat. There are many seats in Heaven, and he had a choice selection of them in his own room. “News from Rome”, he didn’t like the sound of that. The last time there had been “news from Rome”, it had been from Diocletian, and he remembered all too well how that had ended.
“His Holiness the Pope”, Michael continued, his statuesque figure upright as before, “has decreed that you are no longer a Full Saint. I’m really sorry.” The Archangel sincerely felt sympathy for his old friend, but there was nothing he could do.
In shock, George stammered: “But… but… why? I’ve been a Full Saint for more than sixteen hundred years! Surely, there must be some mistake!”
The Archangel shook his head. “No, George. You know that the Pope is infallible. I’m afraid you’ll just have to afterlive1 with it. But you’re a brave man, and there will still be a place for you in Heaven, of course.”
He paused briefly.
“But unfortunately, it won’t be this place. The quarters for non-canonized saints are rather modest compared to your current accommodation. I hate to tell you this, but there won’t be enough room for…. that”.
With those words, the Archangel gestured at the large stuffed dragon that occupied a prominent place on a pedestal near the center of George’s living room.
“No! Nooooo!” George clasped his head with both hands as reality dawned on him. The dragon was his pride and joy, it was what made him who he was, it symbolized so much to him…… Thoughts raged through his head in a split second. Why? Why now? What could have happened? He had totally expected this some four centuries ago, when England had started its own Church, and with him being the patron saint of that country and all that… but this was 1969!
But a saint doesn’t cling to material possessions. George knew that he had to bear this.
“Yes, Michael. I understand. I’ll start packing right away.”
“I’m sorry, George. As your friend, I wanted to be the one to break the bad news to you. Gabe normally handles these things.” He looked at the dragon.
“You know… I’ll see what I can do for you. You can’t take it with you, but Purgatory has been expended a lot lately, and while it will inevitably fill up with new arrivals, they may have some room left for it. And once it’s there, people will get used to it. They don’t have any clear expectations of what it should look like anyway, it’s never been specified to the same level of detail as Heaven or Hell.”
George nodded slightly as the Archangel placed a hand on his shoulder. “Thanks, Michael. That really means a lot to me.”
And thus, even this day in Heaven ended somewhat well.
1Heavenly slang for the ongoing state of experiencing the afterlife.