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? A creature that was half human and half dog. Not exactly your traditional image of Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers.

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 as a cure for any babies looking as if they might be dogheads. A trip to the church font was enough to transform these hybrid creatures into 100% human.

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.

Pope Paul VI – architect of the Vatican II reforms in the 1960s – removed Saint Christopher from the list of saints believing he (or it) probably never existed.

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

  1. Pingback: An age of enchantment? | Mysterious Milton Keynes

    • 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.

      • Your reasoning is valid but the site is not, it seems to us that the site promotes islamic belief which is absurd.

      • It promotes an understanding of Islamic belief but it most certainly does not promote Islamic belief. Understanding a belief system is not accepting it.

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