Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Giant Church Spider Drinks Lamp Oil (1821)

Anon., “The King of the Spiders,” The Atheneum; or, Spirit of the English Magazines (Boston), vol. 9, April-Oct. 1821, p. 485. “The sexton of the church of St. Eustace, at Paris, amazed to find frequently a particular lamp extinct early, and yet the oil consumed only, sat up several nights to discover the cause. At length he detected that a spider of surprising size, came down the cord to drink the oil. A still more extraordinary instance of the same kind occurred during the year 1751, in the cathedral of Milan. A vast spider was observed there, which fed on the oil of the lamps. […] This spider, of four pounds weight, was sent to the Emperor of Austria, and placed in the imperial museum.” 

Karl Shuker discusses this legend from a cryptozoological perspective on his ShukerNature blog. See also his ShukerNature 1 (Greenville, OH: Coachwhip Publications, 2019), 77-86.

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