E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Lion of the Reformation (The).
Spenser says that while Una was seeking St. George, she sat to rest herself, when a lion rushed suddenly out of a thicket, with gaping mouth and lashing tail; but as he drew near he was awe-struck, and, laying aside his fury, kissed her feet and licked her hands; for, as the poet adds, beauty can master strength, and truth subdue vengeance. (The lion is the emblem of England, which waits upon Truth. When true faith was deserted by all the world, England the lion came to its rescue.) The lion then followed Una as a dog, but when Una met Hypocrisy, Sansloy came upon them and killed the lion. That is, during the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., England the lion followed the footsteps of Truth, but in the reign of Mary, Hypocrisy came and False-faith killed the lion, i.e. separated England from Truth by fire and sword.