Dog-Headed Saints

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I remember something about marco polo writing about dog headed men trading in india on his trip to china.
 
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St. Christopher is occasionally represented as dog-headed. I think is has something to do with the Welsh version of 'Christopher'.
 

Zilch5

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Hello,

This is the tale of Saint Guinefort - the Greyhound! This story has it all - dogs, saints, myth and folklore, infanticide and ancient India - all rolled into one...

A few years before he died in 1261, the Inquisitor and Dominican friar Stephen of Bourbon began writing a long treatise on faith—one that included one of the more perplexing incidents of human superstition that he had witnessed. Warning of the dangers of idolatry and superstition, Stephen related an incident that had taken place in the Dombes region of France, near Lyon: while hearing confession, many peasants told him that they had been carrying their children to the grave of Guinefort, a saint Stephen had never heard of before named—when he looked into the manner, he discovered that this supposed Saint Guinefort was, in fact, a greyhound.

The story, as Stephen relates, is as follows: In the diocese of Lyon, close to the village of the nuns called Villeneuve, on the estate of the lord of Villars-en-Dombe, there was a certain castle whose lord had a baby son from his wife. But when the lord and lady and the nurse too had left the house, leaving the child alone in his cradle, a very large snake entered the house and made for the child’s cradle. Guinefort dashed swiftly under the cradle in pursuit, knocking it over, and attacked the snake, answering bite with bite. The dog killed the snake and threw it far away from the child’s cradle, which was now covered in blood, snake and dog alike. When the nurse returned, she thought the child had been killed and eaten by the dog and so gave out an almighty scream. The child’s mother heard this, rushed in, thought the same and she too screamed. Then the knight similarly once he got there believed the same, and drawing his sword killed the dog. Only then did they approach the child and find him unharmed and sleeping sweetly.
Read it all here: http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundta ... -hound.php
 

Peripart

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Zilch5 said:
Hello,

This is the tale of Saint Guinefort - the Greyhound! This story has it all - dogs, saints, myth and folklore, infanticide and ancient India - all rolled into one...
Sounds pretty much like the story of Gelert, but I don't believe anyone in Wales considers him a saint:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelert
As Wikipedia says, there are other similar tales around the world.
 

Zilch5

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Yes the article hints that the whole story started with a Mongoose in India!

It would appear that the story of the obscure Saint somehow became mixed in with the story of Gelert (which was the story of the Mongoose) - weird indeed.
 

AlchoPwn

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Idk if it is relevant, but while we are on the subject of dog headed men, belief in them was pronounced in the ancient world. In fact St Christopher was said to be cynocephalic, i.e. from the tribe of North African dog headed people,who were said to be extremely effective warriors, but to have sufficient reason to be capable of salvation, unlike beasts.
St Christopher.jpg
 
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