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Brno, Czechia

The Indecent Little Man on the Church of St. James

A cheeky architectural easter egg. 

On the southern window of Brno’s Church of St. James, one sculptural element of the impressive church seems somewhat out of place: an indecent little two-headed man cheekily displaying his bare butt to the world.

There are two legends attributed to the little man, both involving the competition between the Church of St. James and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul on nearby Petrov Hill. 

The first is that the two churches, each financed by a family from either side of town, were about to be finished. The spires of the two churches both towered high, but St. James’ ended up being taller by roughly 30 feet. The naked man and his bottom were added on as a middle finger from the winning church to the losing one.

The second story is that the financiers of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul were jealous of their competitors because, though Petrov Hill was a wealthier part of town, the stonemason on the Church of St. James was one of Europe’s finest. In addition to his skill, he was an efficient and well-liked laborer, and as such work on St. James was going considerably faster than on the cathedral. Using power, influence, and money the lords of Petrov Hill were able to remove the stonemason from his position at St. James’, but not before he finished one final window. This, of course, was the one bearing the indecent little man, spreading his cheeks toward Petrov Hill for as long as the church stands.

Some historians claim that both these stories are apocryphal, and that the rude sculpture is merely a strange but not uncommon piece of Gothic adornment. You choose which story you prefer.

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