Naked Butt Guy on a Church

There is plenty to enjoy about Gothic architecture – the scale, the beauty, the decor. If you know what to look for, you may find a Green Man or perhaps some alchemical symbols. Rarely would you expect to find a pair of bare butt cheeks.

Unless you’re in Brno.

A photo of The Church of St James - Brno, Czechia

The Church of St James – Brno, Czechia

Brno’s church of St James was built in the 15th century [3] at around the same time that the cathedral of St Peter and St Paul was being put together on the nearby Petrov Hill. (To be precise, it was being renovated and rebuilt as there had been a church on this site since the 13th century [3]) Rival families were financing the two religious buildings. [1] The spires of both churches were completed at the same time but St James’ Church ended up being taller – by about 10 metres or so.

A photo of Strasbourg Cathedral - Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg Cathedral – Strasbourg, France

The sculptor working on St James was a superior craftsman to the one working on the cathedral. He had worked on the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral before coming to Brno. [2] He added a naked man baring his behind to the cathedral as a sign of victory. You can see him on top of the keystone of the southern door. [1]
Another version of this story suggests that the people behind the cathedral ensured that the sculptor had to leave his job. [2] Finding himself being treated like this, he asked to be allowed to finish what he was doing before leaving. The result is the naked man [2]

A photo of naked butt guy - Brno, Czechia

Naked Butt Guy on a church – Brno, Czechia

Historians now think this story is apocryphal. [1] [3] While I can understand why they would say so, sculpting such a figure would take a fair amount of time. The sculptor would have had a reason to do this. We know that naked men’s backsides are not a common feature of European Roman Catholic churches (!) so this story strikes me as being likely.

Have you seen any unusual sculptures on your church? Leave a comment and let us know!


[1] Atlas Obscura, The Indecent Little Man on the Church of St John, Unknown date
[2] Go To Brno, Indecent Little Man , Unknown date
[3] Wikipedia, Church of St James, 2017

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