Dogheads – the medieval belief in half man/half canine

christopheryHow on earth did anybody in the Middle Ages come to believe that Saint Christopher was a doghead?  But believe some people did.  Dogheads were nothing new in the history of mythology.  The ancient Egyptians had, after all, worshiped a dog headed god Anubis – god of the dead.

As with many Egyptian religious beliefs, this had been transmitted to the rest of Europe via the Greeks.  By the Middle Ages, baptism was being held up to be a cure for the doggish aspects of these canine creatures miraculously transforming them in to whole human beings.  After all, if frogs could become princes – why couldn’t dogheads become human through divine intervention?

The German 10th/11th century bishop Walther von Speyer is widely credited with being the first person to write that Saint Christopher was a giant doghead.  This would explain his strength when he carried the child Jesus across the stream but found himself enduring an enormous weight – the weight of the world and its sins of course.  Once Jesus had revealed his true identity to Christopher and he had repented of all his sins, he was baptised and became a human.

Here is a depiction of Saint Christopher as a doghead in the Middle Ages.

It should be pointed out that Pope Paul VI – architect of Vatican II in the 1960s – removed Saint Christopher from the list of saints as being somebody who probably never existed.


5 thoughts on “Dogheads – the medieval belief in half man/half canine

    1. The Templars knew their enemies better than anybody else – in order to defeat them. Even the Grand Master in Jerusalem had a Saracen secretary and many Templars could speak Arabic. The site also gets a lot of interest from the Middle East and I’m happy to engage in debate with a global audience.

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