The Devil's Horn
_Of a noble knight of Germany, a great traveller in his time; who after
he had made a certain voyage, took a vow to never make the sign of
the Cross, owing to the firm faith and belief that he had in the holy
sacrament of baptism--in which faith he fought the devil, as you will
A noble knight of Germany, a great traveller, distinguished in arms,
courteous, and largely endowed with all good virtues, had just returned
from a long journey, and was in his castle, when he was asked by one of
his vassals living in the same town, to be godfather to his child, which
had been born on the same day that the knight returned.
To which request the knight willingly acceded, and although he had
during his life held many children at the font, he had never before
listened to the holy words pronounced by the priest at this holy and
excellent sacrament as he did this time, and they seemed to him--as
indeed they are-full of high and divine mystery.
The baptism being finished, he being liberal and courteous and willing
to oblige his vassals, remained to dine in the town, instead of
returning to his castle, and with him dined the cure, his fellow
sponsor, and other persons of renown.
The discourse turned on various matters, when the knight began to
greatly praise the excellent sacrament of baptism, and said in a loud
and clear voice that all might hear;
"If I knew for a truth that at my baptism had been pronounced the great
and holy words which I heard to-day at the baptism of my latest god-son,
I would not believe that the devil could have any power or authority
over me, except to tempt me, and I would refrain from ever making the
sign of the Cross, not that--let it be well understood--I do not well
know that sign is sufficient to repel the devil, but because I believe
that the words pronounced at the baptism of every Christian (if they are
such as I have to-day heard) are capable of driving away all the devils
of hell, however many they might be."
"Truly then, monseigneur," replied the cure, "I assure you _in verbo
sacerdotis_ that the same words which were said to-day at the baptism
of your god-son were pronounced at your baptism. I know it well, for
I myself baptised you, and I remember it as well as though it were
yesterday. God be merciful to monseigneur your father--he asked me the
day after your baptism, what I thought of his son; such and such were
your sponsors, and such and such were present," and he related all
particulars about the baptism, and showed that it was certain that in
not a word did it differ from that of his god-son.
"Since it is thus," then said the noble knight, "I vow to God, my
creator, that I have such firm faith in the holy sacrament of baptism
that never again, for any danger, encounter, or assault that the devil
may make against me, will I make the sign of the Cross, but solely by
the memory of the sacrament of baptism I will drive him behind me;
such a firm belief have I in this divine mystery, that it does not seem
possible to me that the devil can hurt a man so shielded, for that rite
needs no other aid if accompanied by true faith."
The dinner passed, and I know not how many years after, the good knight
was in a large town in Germany, about some business which drew him
thither, and was lodged in an inn. As he was one night along with his
servants, after supper, talking and jesting with them, he wished to
retire, but as his servants were enjoying themselves he would not
disturb them, so he took a candle and went alone. As he entered the
closet he saw before him a most horrible and terrible monster, having
large and long horns, eyes brighter than the flames of a furnace, arms
thick and long, sharp and cutting claws,--in fact a most extraordinary
monster, and a devil, I should imagine.
And for such the good knight took it, and was at first greatly startled
at such a meeting. Nevertheless, he boldly determined to defend himself
if he were attacked, and he remembered the vow he had made concerning
the holy and divine mystery of baptism. And in this faith he walked up
to the monster, whom I have called a devil, and asked him who he was and
what he wanted?
The devil, without a word, attacked him, and the good knight defended
himself, though he had no other weapons than his hands (for he was in
his doublet, being about to go to bed) and the protection of his firm
faith in the holy mystery of baptism.
The struggle lasted long, and the good knight was so weary that it was
strange he could longer endure such an assault. But he was so well-armed
by his faith that the blows of his enemy had but little effect. At last,
when the combat had lasted a full hour, the good knight took the devil
by the horns, and tore one of them out, and beat him therewith soundly.
Then he went away victorious, leaving the devil writhing on the ground,
and went back to his servants, who were still enjoying themselves, as
they had been doing when he left. They were much frightened to see their
master sweating and out of breath, and with his face all scratched, and
his doublet, shirt, and hose disarranged and torn.
"Ah, sir," they cried; "whence come you, and who has thus mauled you?"
"Who?" he replied. "Why it was the devil, with whom I have fought so
long that I am out of breath, and in the condition in which you see
me; and I swear to you that I truly believe he would have strangled and
devoured me, if I had not at that moment remembered my baptism, and the
great mystery of that holy sacrament, and the vow that I made I know not
how many years ago. And, believe me, I have kept that vow, and though I
was in danger, I never made the sign of the Cross, but remembering the
aforesaid holy sacrament, boldly defended myself, and have escaped scot
free; for which I praise and thank our Lord who with the shield of faith
hath preserved me safely. Let all the other devils in hell come; as long
as this protection endures, I fear them not. Praise be to our blessed
God who is able to endue his knights with such weapons."
The servants of the good knight, when they heard their master relate
this story, were very glad to find he had escaped so well, and much
astonished at the horn he showed them, and which he had torn out of the
devil's head. And they could not discover, neither could any person who
afterwards saw it, of what it was formed; if it were bone or horn, as
other horns are, or, what it was.
Then one of the knight's servants said that he would go and see if this
devil were still where his master had left it, and if he found it he
would fight it, and tear out its other horn. His master told him not to
go, but he said he would.
"Do not do it," said his master; "the danger is too great."
"I care not," replied the other; "I will go."
"If you take my advice," said his master, "you will not go."
But he would disobey his master and go. He took in one hand a torch, and
in the other a great axe, and went to the place where his master had met
and fought the devil. What happened no one knows, but his master, who,
fearing for his servant, followed him as quickly as he could, found
neither man nor devil, nor ever heard what became of the man.
Thus, in the manner that you have heard, did this good knight fight
against the devil, and overcome him by the virtue of the holy sacrament