How a saint tricked the Devil

I saw recently this very cool painting by Michael Pacher, a Tyroler (+1498) of St. Wolfgang.  Since I didn’t know of this episode in the life of the saint, I was pretty intrigued, since this depicts an obvious moment of sacred liturgy during which Ol’ Scratch is holding the book.

A couple initial observations.

First, the Devil must be in complete agony while doing this.  Good!  However, the Devil must have been duped into doing this by the saint.  The Enemy must have thought this was a malevolent victory of some sort, to have endured this pain and humiliation.

What’s up here?

As the story goes, St. Wolfgang was determined to build a church.  Somehow, the Devil got involved and offered to help build the church and even consecrate it, provided that he, the Devil, would be able to keep the first one to cross its threshold.  Fortunately, the first one across the threshold was a wolf, rather than a human being, so the Enemy lost again.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, Lighter fare, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Saints: Stories & Symbols and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. thefeds says:

    Interesting painting, Fr. Z. The bystanders all seem to be perfectly used to seeing the devil in their neighborhood. By the way, so that’s why the devil can see behind his back…

  2. Ed the Roman says:

    Also assists him in talking out his…

  3. LarryW2LJ says:

    I’ve heard the saying, “Having eyes on the back of your head”, but this painting puts a whole other spin on that saying!

  4. One of those TNCs says:

    A graphic reminder to use the old cry, “Saints, preserve us!”

  5. benedetta says:

    St. Wolfgang is a particular patron of mine for various reasons.

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Any resonance here of St. Solomon’s non-human building crew?

    Alternative Krampus costume ideas?

Comments are closed.