Why Tutivillus 1.

I just realized, that I did not explain why I use the name Tutivillus in the blog title.

Well… it started some time ago – when I went around the Warmia Region. I stopped in Orneta, a small town in the heart of the Warmia Region. In the setting sun the town looked like a fairy tale place in the Holy Ermland… Just near the main town square – here called the market – there is a church of St. Johns’. A building from the 14th century, with splendid gables.

Wherever I go – I first visit local churches.

It is the best way of learning about the history and culture of the visited region. Especially, that many pieces of art from this part of today’s Poland just vanished – during II WW. Deliberately I wrote “vanished” because not all can be traced in eastern or western museums. Many still spring out at numerous auctions. Meaning – they were simply stolen…

But to go back to what I am about…

When I entered St. Johns’ church – I saw typical for this region – some medieval “murals”, some baroque altars. Also typical for that region – silence and something in the atmosphere of the church, found nowhere else in Poland…

And then I looked up at the vaulted ceilings.

Oh, My! What a beautiful view! Vaulted ceilings with the so-called main rib.

And … Tutivillus. But in so many displays, that till today I can’t decide which is my favorite.

This is how I started to notice Tutivillus, and this is how I became interested in medieval legends. Tutivillus became one of my favorite marks of reference. And I still am tracing this Demon Patron of Scribes or as he is sometimes called – the Noting and Listening Demon, God’s Spy.

About Warmia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warmia
About Orneta http://www.mojalbum.com.pl/Album=7PCEYYEC

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It is often said: go to Hell, or Devil knows… Well he knows … He, or  rather – Tutivillus.

Devil eavesdropper – said to be God’s Spy. In fact he is the spy of the Lord of Hell. The only one who has the right – or even in a sense the obligation – to sit in the parish and monastic churches (just above the stalls), as well as in the cloisters of the monastery. Sitting, squatting in the corner and noting, or overhears our sins and omissions …

Eavesdropper – storing information, only to give an account of them later..

Another version says that he spies and overhears, records and collects the sins, so as to “pull them out and against” at the Last Judgement.


And the beginning was pretty mundane – well – our hero was invented in a monastery, probably in the twelfth century.

Well – the monastic regulations require that the monks meet at the common prayers of approximately every three hours. Not necessarily all  did (nor do)  that very willingly, and not necessarily all very consciously. At night, it had to be particularly burdensome. And when we think of the chill in the church, and the monks’ dresses… And when the last psalm was sung – in fact most of the monastic minds already circled around their cells, and more or less comfortable – but still … beds. Superiors so invented Tutivillus – as the lash for those not too diligent.

The devil, who was originally to be a kind of doorman – because he sat at church entrances and noted who did and who did not bow to the Lord.

No, we will not notice him because he is a clever creature, and hides from our eyes. So as not  to be inscribed on the list – be sure to pray honestly, so that the spy will have nothing to do.

There is a saying – “we don’t fight against legends – we tell them” ….

And so it was in this case – the legend, was quickly adapted, and the devil has been “tamed” … He even somehow became a part of our everyday life.  It functions in the vocabulary  and literature (read more on Timothy DeVinney’s site)

We are not even aware of how much of Tutivillus we have around us in our everyday life. And it is not this big scary devil from hell – what’s his name … Beelzebub, Lucifer or another. This is our tiny Tutivillus. I somehow always think of him – in the context of the Gummi Bears (Toadie)…

As I was told by one of the history tracers – Tutivillus was seen in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark as well as in distant Finland, also in England and Estonia. Mainly he hides in the polychromy.

In the sixteenth-century England, slow-witted  people were called tutivill –  so it was rather an insult to be called like this… Wonder why – as Tutivillus was rather (or still is) a smart one 😉

One can be as nosy as… Tutivillus, or meticulous as Tutivillus.

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