Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Devil's Pillar

A curious story is told about a certain canon of Vyšehrad who once accepted a bet from the devil. The demon Zardan would fly to Rome, bodily lift one of the great granite columns from the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, and fly back to Bohemia with it before the priest had finished saying Mass. The priest readily agreed, and began the service.

Zardan soon arrived in Rome and duly stole the column (which, incidentally, is missing to this day); but St Peter, who was keeping his eye on things, delayed the thief three times on the return trip, at one stage dunking him in the lagoon of Venice. By the time Zardan arrived at Vyšehrad, the Mass was finished.

So enraged was the devil that he hurled the pillar with supernatural fury through the roof of the church of St Peter and St Paul. It shattered into three pieces, which can still be seen, relocated in the beautiful gardens close to the church and its historic cemetery. The broken column is called 'Čertův sloup' or 'Devil's pillar', but those who know the story refer to it more correctly as 'the pillar of Zardan'.

Today's main picture shows a beautiful fresco from the start of the 18th century over the entry to the sacristy, illustrating the moment when the devil was defeated. Click on the smaller picture to see a recent photograph of the pillar itself, an object which has been the subject of fascination and debate for many centuries.


Julie said...

interesting photo and very interesting story.

Alex Went said...

Thanks Julie, and welcome to the blog. Hope you continue to find it of interest

Jilly said...

How absolutely fascinating and a beautiful painting to illustrate the story. Is there any end to the fascinations of Prague?

Alex Went said...


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