Monday, March 21, 2005


I’ve fallen asleep in plenty of churches over the years. But not in San Pedro de Cervata—a 12th century cathedral that I visited last weekend while in northern Spain’s Cantabria region. This is a church for which the confession box was invented.

San Pedro’s is famous for its erotic gargoyles. Male gargoyles. Female gargoyles. Gargoyles performing solo and in pairs. San Pedro’s has it all—except, perhaps, gargoyles observing a vow of chastity.

You’ll be relieved to know, however, that these works of erotic art are only found on the church’s exterior. There is nothing titillating within San Pedro’s walls—although I can’t vouch for the contents of the head Pastor’s gym bag.

Our tour guide for the afternoon explained that there are two competing theories as to why the décor is so darn spicy.

The first theory is that church designers wanted to show a moral contrast. The church’s inner sanctum is the embodiment of purity and holiness; whereas lust, debauchery and other sinful recreations occur outside.

The second theory is one of practicality. There was a high infant mortality rate during the era in which the church was built. As such, the gargoyles were intended to titillate the flock so that they would go forth and multiply with a bit more zeal. Kind of a limestone-based precursor to Viagra®, if you will.

Personally, I find the latter theory to be more persuasive—although my impartiality might be tainted by that gym bag-thing.

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At 11:13 AM, Blogger Bel said...

Yes, I have linked your blog cause it's just so cool and informative and, um, cool. ha.
Anyway, thanks for linking mine. Btw, this church is quite spectacular! It's great to be able to see things around the world on the internet. We can have more or less an idea of where our next holiday will be.
Hasta luego.
Bel :)

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal, thanks for the link. I enjoyed your site too, and my trip to Spain last summer. About the Sangria--alas, we were uneducated and operating by the seat of our pants with little Spanish. Since then, I've taken two quarters of Spanish from la profesora from homework hell. Ahora, hablo un poco Espanol. You will be in my friends links. Yoda!

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hey Cathy:

And thank YOU for "friends" link.

VTB readers...if you look on my Sidebar, you'll see a link for "Kick Shoe Kooy." Click on it, and you'll arrive at her site. It full o' funny stuff...including the graphic depiction of a girl cradling a bottle of Don Simon Sangria.



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