The Synagogue of Satan by Stanislaw Przybyszewski 1897
Translated by Joe Bandel 2011
And Satan’s revenge came. He burrowed himself deeply into the earth until it became possessed. Around the year one thousand the people began to despair of God. Signs and wonders were happening all over the earth. The army of Otto the great saw the sun go out and return as a pale saffron yellow. In Rome the devil visited Pope Sylvester V in person. The seasons of the year appeared to turn themselves around. It snowed in summer and heavy thunderstorms broke out in the middle of deepest winter. “Holy Fire” ate the flesh of the people until it fell from their bones in gangrenous tatters.
The earth was delirious and the people became beasts. Starvation was a problem over the entire world and at home the people began to devour the corpses of the dead. The craving for human flesh became a mania. People despised animal flesh, did not even consider it. Humans were supposed to devour humans. Thus Satan got the revenge that he desired.
[Translator’s note: This section refers to the writing of monk historian Ralph Glaber who documented these times and the mass hysteria that surrounded the turn of the millennium. Here is an excerpt taken from the medieval sourcebook online. One must consider that due to volcanic eruptions at the time many parts of the world were plunged into a miniature ice age. Perhaps these were the end of days foretold in the book of Revelations and Christ has ruled the new Christianized earth for the last one thousand years. Perhaps his time has come and gone.]
Ralph Glaber: On the First Millenium
For, in the seventh year before that date, Mount Vesuvius (which is also called Vulcan’s Caldron) gaped far more often than his wont and belched forth a multitude of vast stones mingled with sulphurous flames which fell even to a distance of three miles around; and thus by the stench of his breath he began to make all the surrounding province uninhabitable.. . . It befell meanwhile that almost all the cities of Italy and Gaul were ravaged by flames of fire, and that the greater part even of the city of Rome was devoured by a conflagration. During which fire, the flames caught the beams of St Peter’s church, beginning to-creep under the bronze tiles and lick the carpenters’ work. When this became known to the whole multitude that stood by, then, finding no possible device for averting this disaster, they turned with one accord and, crying with a terrible voice, hastened to the Confession [Coulton note: The part of the choir in which the celebrant makes his confession before saying mass. See Dom Martene, De Antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, lib. i, c. iv, art. 2, ad fin. At St Peter’s of Rome, this is the space eastward of the Saint’s tomb]. even of the Chief of the Apostles, crying upon him with curses that, if he watched not over his own, nor showed himself a very present defender of his church, many throughout the world would fall away from their profession of faith. Whereupon the devouring flames straightway left those beams of pine and, died away.. . . At this same time a horrible plague raged among men, namely a hidden fire which, upon whatsoever limb it toned, consumed it and severed it from the body [Coulton note: this is St Anthony’s fire, one of the curses of the Middle Ages, which modem medicine has traced to poisons generated in corrupt rye-bread.] Many were consumed even in the space of a single night by these devouring flames.. .. Moreover, about the same time, a most mighty famine raged for five years throughout the Roman world, so that no region could be beard of which was not hunger stricken for lack of bread, and many of the people were starved to death. In those days also, in many regions, the terrible famine compelled men to make their food not only of unclean beasts and creeping things, but even of men’s, women’s, and children’s flesh, without regard even of kindred; for so fierce waxed this hunger that grown-up sons devoured their mothers, and mothers, forgetting their maternal love ate their babes. [Coulton note: The chronicler then goes on to speak of two heresies which arose in France and Italy, of the piety of King Robert of France, etc., etc.]
The vengeance seeking Satan first wanted the people to eat the flesh of children, then those that fell on the wayside, until at last it was dared to openly sell human flesh in public. Countless packs of wolves came out of the woods and devoured any others that still remained living. A great fear dominated that the world would become depopulated. The prelates and city officials gathered together and devised ways so that at least the strongest could stay alive and the world not die out.
The people sought in vain to reconcile themselves with God. In vain they swore the “Treuga Dei” (peace of God) with their bitterest enemies. In vain the kings, clothed with crowns and scepters, said the most despairing prayers along with the choir boys—it was all for nothing.
If God would not help, then Satan must! The people began to make fun of God. They trampled the consecrated host, his body, into the dirt and dung, spit on his holiest symbols. Satan began to reap his harvest. For a long time he had mockingly and scornfully whispered to the despairing, “Behold how good your God is! Don’t you see that he has damned you already and wants nothing more to do with you?”
If we are all damned, then there is no help for us. Alas! We might as well give ourselves entirely over to Satan. Christ shed his blood for the salvation of mankind. Heh! Salvation? What kind of salvation is this, that people have to eat each other, that the earth burns under our feet like a red hot iron and pestilence causes the flesh to fall from our bones?
Scorn, threefold scorn on this salvation! We spit on the salvation that is supposed to come after this earthly hell. This future salvation is only a lie like everything else. What about the promises of salvation here on earth? Look, the church, Christ’s holy bride, has become a whore that sells herself with the most frightful haggling.
During this time it was considered a disgrace for any gentleman to be without lands. The land was not for purchase. It was indivisible like a person and had to remain undivided. It got passed on to the eldest son.
But what about the other children? Now that was what the church was there for. The temple of God became the synagogue of Satan so the good fathers could make use of their filthiest passions to engender the most fertile of evils. The countless children of the Barons and Dukes became abbots and bishops. The people were called together and told to choose or else… The people never expected the “or else” so they chose.
Atto de Veciel tells how the countless sheep elected a little child of six years to the highest ministry. The child climbed onto a chair, prattled a couple of sentences from the catechism and was proclaimed a bishop. At times a child would forget the sentences, and then a dove would suddenly land on its head and help the people to choose. Behold! That was even more favorable. The Holy Spirit itself had chosen.
At the same time the worthy successors to St. Peter scandalized the entire world. Two women made their lovers into popes. The son of a Jew and a twelve year old boy decided over the fate of Christendom.
The good father of sin was satisfied. He knew that now his reign was established. The church took stock of itself.
“Reform the church!” screamed the entire world.
Pope Gregory VII began the reformation. Woman, oh ever and again it was woman, had to be destroyed within the church. With wild fanatical zeal the monk pope proclaimed the requirement of celibacy. He himself was a monk and incited the other monks against the worldly priests. The monks threw their burning torches underneath the people and a horrible terror began. The destructive instinct of the people, that eternally hungry beast, was unleashed without bounds.
Had there ever been a better opportunity for the people to avenge themselves on the blood suckers that raged against them a thousand times worse than the castle lords themselves? The people threw themselves upon the priests, who with stiff necked despair refused to give up their wives. They drove them away from the altars, beat them, mutilated them or tore them to pieces in the cathedrals. The people trampled them with their feet, soiled them, spit on those things that a short time ago they had revered as holy.
They drank the Holy Wine after mixing it with urine and threw the consecrated host to the four winds. The power of the priest was broken. The people no longer believed them to be the representatives of God. They had no power or authority. The monks and the pope ruled the world.
Dunstan permitted the concubine of an English king to be mutilated. Pope Gregory VII rewarded an abbot with a bishopric after the abbot had a monk castrated. The theologian Manegeld openly taught that married priests should be killed.
Nature was raped; the church pushed the woman away in disgust as an unclean animal, a serpent of Satan, as eternal death incarnate. The fanatical madman Pietro Damiani roamed through entire Italy and in countless sermons always renewed his attacks on woman.
“C’est ả vous que je mảdresse, e’cume de paradis, amorce de Satan, poison des âmes, glaive des coeurs, huppes, bijoux, chouettes, louves, sangaues insatiables…(I am addressing you, scum of paradise, bait of Satan, poison of the soul, spear of the heart, all dressed up with jewels, you little chicks, she-wolves, insatiable bloodsuckers…)
The holy doctors declared that man should distance himself from woman. The world was populated enough and going to perish soon. Peter of Lombardy professed that marriage was a sin, at least a venial sin.