Christian Phallic Worship

December 2, 2009

(An excerpt from an ongoing essay that will  be adapted in the stage show)

The indoctrination of Europe with the strict mores of early Christianity was difficult and never completely successful. The ancient practice of phallic worship continued throughout the early Middle Ages (as described in exhaustive detail by Thomas Wright’s treatise The Worship of Generative Powers of 1865, see

Illustration from The Worship of Generative Powers

Persistent veneration of the pagan fertility god Priapus was concealed under the guises of various saints. One of these, St. Foutin, was represented with a large wooden penis—shavings from this protuberance were made into a tea that was thought to cure barren women and have an aphrodisiac effect on their husbands. (As the length this peg diminished, it was periodically restored by priests who surreptitiously hammered it outward from behind.) Women were also reported to kiss or sit on such objects. There is speculation that, in a holdover of an ancient pagan custom, some new brides would give their maidenhood to the saint.

At Varailles in Provence, the ceiling of a chapel dedicated to this saint was covered with wax facsimile of genitalia of both sexes. An eyewitness account relates that when the wind blew they produced a disturbing effect. In the southern Italian town of Trani, a statue endowed with a huge phallus, called “the Membro saint,” was carried in religious processions.

Maypole dances, of course, were a relic of phallic worship. In a Swedish custom that survives to this day, a long wooden pole is made to penetrate through the opposite windows of the bedrooms of newlywed couples, presumably to work a sympathetic influence on the proceedings within.

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