Dog-Pig Hybrids and the Heretical Teachings of the Jesuits during the Counter Reformation

Keywords: Jesuits, Peter (or Petrus) Canisius, Martin Eisengrein, Judensau (‘Jewish sow’), dog-pig hybrids, Reformation

Updated: 05.10.2022

The act of revelation was explored in Protestant Reformation prints to demonstrate that the Catholic Church were something more sinister than what they externally portrayed. In this way, their outward, physical appearance from their tonsured haircut to their clerical robes were shown to be devices to disguise their internal sin and deviousness. In other words, they were signs of false piety. For example, in a 1587 copper engraving by F. Hildenberg entitled Des Teuffels Garkuchen (‘The Devil’s Kitchen’), the inner sins of the clergy are revealed as a demon is depicted gutting a monk as he pulls out symbolic motifs including a dog and a pig, symbolising ‘unclean’ and scavenging animals that represent greed (Hall, 2008, p. 255).

F. Hildenberg, Des Teuffels Garkuchen (‘The Devil’s Kitchen’), c. 1587,
Copper engraving, 19.3 x 23.7 cm,
Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek

Catholic theologians and Jesuits were singled out with their portrayal as floppy-eared dogs. During the 1520s, at the height of the Protestant Reformation, and again in the 1560s during the early years of the Counter Reformation, dogs were employed to portray Catholic opponents. Although the Society of Jesus was formally established in 1540, it was only in the 1560s after the publication of the 1568 Der Suiten that Jesuits became the routine target of Protestant propaganda (Jensen, 1992, p. 203). This period also marked a point in their Counter Reformation campaign when Catholicism started to rebound after the Peace of Augsburg (Smith, 2016, p. 57). The Jesuits became an especial target as they became a significant and influential order of the Catholic Church. While artists used various animals to mock the Catholic clergy, the dog and the wolf were popular, as they had biblical resonance and cultural familiarity. The frequency of drawing upon the familiarity of the canine motif in the context of the Reformation made the message of the Protestant polemical prints readily understood in the same way that Thomas Murner was frequently depicted as a cat.

Anonymous, Suitarum Origo et Mores, 1568, Wittenberg,
Woodcut, 59.2 x 36.4 cm sheet size,
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin,
Latin Edition,
Signed M. Franciscus Raphael, Poeta laureatus.

The anonymous Latin broadsheet, Suitarum Origo et Mores, was published in German vernacular a year later as Der Suiten/welche sich Jesuiten nennen (‘The Suiten, who call themselves Jesuits’) in 1569. The broadsheet portrays an ‘unholy’ alliance between the papal clergy and the Jesuits in what appears to be an original concept. ‘Suiten’ was a play on the name of Jesuits by taking Jesus out of the name (Spinks, 2009, p. 109, note 15). Therefore, the broadsheet aimed to criticise and undermine the Counter-Reformation agenda. Its publication in Latin also suggests that it was also designed to be read by the clergy as a satirical critique.

The focal point of the woodcut on the broadsheet is the papal sow and a dog, situated at the top-central position. Their diabolical union that created the Jesuits was symbolised by their muzzles almost touching. The drooling sow with the crown of the papacy has given birth to hybrid canine-swine offspring representing the Jesuits with the head of a dog, a wolf’s tail, and the body and hooves of a pig. The print states that the dog-father was born from a she-wolf depicted behind the sow (marked letter C), acknowledging the fact that dogs had evolved from wolves. The text below states that the offspring ‘is the evil and harmful horde, which, to mock Jesus, call themselves Jesuits, though they don’t know Jesus at all’ (‘Dis ist die böss und schedlich rott/Die sich Jhesu Christo zu spot/Mit namen Jesuiten nenen/So sie doch Jhesum gar nicht kennn.’ Translation by Gerda Dinwiddie). The text further described the Jesuits as possessing the characteristics of all three animals:

The way a dog sits by his master’s table, nice and friendly, valiant and good, will not permit any strange fellow to come near, from pure wickedness, hatred, and is envious, so that he alone will have his place: Such little dogs are the Suiten, [they] know how to ingratiate themselves nicely, all gentle and friendly, as long as they are being acquainted with people in highest positions in the land. (‘Gleich wie ein Hund vors Herren tisch/Fein freundlich ist/ wacker und fetsch/Kein frömden Gsellen bey sich leidt/Aus lauter bosheit/ hass und neidt/ Damit er hab den platz alleint/Solch Hündlein die Suiten sein/Wissen sich fein zu schmeicheln ein/Können wol sanfft und freundlich sein/So lang bis sie werden bekandt Mit höchsten Leuten in dem Landt.’ Translation by Gerda Dinwiddie)

Anonymous, Suitarum Origo et Mores, 1568, Wittenberg,
Woodcut, 59.2 x 36.4 cm sheet size,
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin,
Latin Edition,
Signed M. Franciscus Raphael, Poeta laureatus.

They were said to have a wolfish nature:

For like the wolf sneaks into pen and stable to the sheep and strangles them all, the Suiten also in a wolfish bad habit and custom are able to masterly hide and adorn their predatory heart and stingy back (Denn wie der Wolff in Pferch und Stall/Zun Schafen schleicht und würgt sie all.’ So können die Suiten auch/ Nach Wölffscher unart und brauch/ Ir raubisch hers und geisig ruükn/ Gar meisterlich bergen und schmückn Translation by Gerda Dinwiddie).

In this way, the broadsheet paints the Jesuits as having a duplicitous nature with the predatory character of a wolf on the inside, and the friendliness of a dog on the exterior.

The large pope sow recalls the motif of the Judensau (‘Jewish sow’), which is characterised by a large sow being suckled by Jews. This was a common motif that was almost exclusively German and could be seen on the exterior of Wittenberg’s town church, the same city in which the print was published (Madigan, 2005, pp. 387-88). The pope was identified as Pope Paul IV using his original name ‘Caraff’ (Gian Pietro Carafa, 1476-1559) (Paintner, 2011, p. 411). Paul IV, who was pope between 1559-1565, was known for his harsh measures against Protestants (Linder, 2008, p. 113). The pope is further portrayed with a spiral of excrement on top of the papal tiara, desanctifying the sacred emblem of the papacy. Excrement was associated with demonic pollution and was a reoccurring motif in print usually associated with fools and the peasantry (Hsia, 1991, p. 121. See Chapter 8 in Grössinger, 2002, pp. 171-83). Ulinka Rublack states that Reformers would smear excrement on their opponent’s doors, thereby bringing this motif to real life (Rublack, 2017, p. 53).

Woodcut, fifteenth century
Source: wikimedia

The dog-father (who possibly represents the founder of the Order of Jesus – Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)) and the rest of the clergy were portrayed in prayer for the safe deliverance of this blasphemous alliance as ‘the sow had pain and suffering, because of her prurient fruit, which already was cursed inside her body’ (‘Hete die alt Saw schmerzen und leid/Ob irer unzehlichen (unseligen) frucht/Die schon im Leibe war verflucht.’ Translation by Gerda Dinwiddie). The depravity of such an alliance was emphasised by snake-haired Furies acting as wet nurses to the litter of puppy piglets. The diabolical offspring of an unholy alliance further drew in the poison from the Furies. The combination of these motifs served as symbols of demonic associations and were used as part of the visual campaign in pictorial prints that Othered perceived enemies.

The print uses symmetry to divide the print into thirds. Looking down the woodcut from left to right, the puppy-pig offspring are shown to increase in age. A Lutheran church is shown desecrated by a junior puppy-pig hybrid offspring on the centre-left (Kunzle, 1973, p. 31). Their older siblings are portrayed in a schoolhouse on the centre-right. The schoolhouse shows dog-headed and pig-headed instructors at opposing lecterns. They have been identified as the two most influential academics at Ingolstadt University: Dutch Jesuit, Peter (or Petrus) Canisius (1521-1597), with the head of a dog – a likely play on his name – and Martin Eisengrein (1535-1578) as a drooling pig (Spinks, 2009, p. 116; Schmidt, 2006, p. 172). The image of the schoolhouse recalls Georg Pencz’s Die widersprüchlichen Predigten (‘The Contradicting Sermons’), published in 1529, where a room was shown divided between two preachers – a reformed and papal preacher bidding for the attention of the congregation (Scribner, 1981, pp. 196-97). This comparison elicits the discord between existing faculty as Jesuits took over senior positions within Ingolstadt University (Modley, 1998, p. 145-46). By 1588, the Jesuits had taken over the entire arts faculty (Thomas, 2010, p. 122). Eisengrein acted as a mediator between the two factions, which points to the purpose of the broadsheet (Modley, 1998, pp. 145-46). The Jesuit college was also particularly interested in recruiting converted instructors from Lutheran universities (Thomas, 2010, p. 121). Eisengrein, himself, converted to Catholicism in 1558, which no doubt drew the ire of Lutherans (Spinks, 2009, p. 116).

Anonymous, Suitarum Origo et Mores, 1568, Wittenberg, Detail
Woodcut, 59.2 x 36.4 cm sheet size,
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin,
Latin Edition,
Signed M. Franciscus Raphael, Poeta laureatus.

The chaotic scene of the schoolhouse also satirises the Jesuit attempt to convert people to Catholicism within Germany through education. They had established twenty-two colleges along the Rhineland by the time of the Thirty Years’ War in the seventeenth century (Wilson, 2009, p. 29). Canisius was a Dutch missionary who was devoted to returning Catholicism to the German lands and led the establishment of the Jesuit colleges (Jensen, 1992, p. 208; Wiesner-Hanks, 2006, p.174). His foreign status like many of the earlier Jesuits further drew the irritation of the German Protestant movement (Hsia, 1989, p. 48). The broadside states the dog-headed Canisius ‘barks out his poisonous teaching,’ (‘Vall rausser sein giftige lehr’) turning students into savages, underscored by the scene marked ‘L’ with a man being attacked by a group of dogs. This scene further recalls the biblical passage: ‘Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me’ (Psalm 22.16). The image is paralleled with a reference to the demon-possessed swine that were drowned by Jesus in Mark 5.1-13, suggesting that the Jesuits are the demonic-possessed swine (Kunzle, 1973, p. 31).

Returning to the schoolhouse, excrement was depicted on Canisius’ open book and the book of a puppy-pig hybrid sitting on the floor. This quite literally equated Jesuit teaching with excrement. This motif could also quite likely be in response to the popularity of Canisius’ three catechisms, after Loyola drew up a program of teaching for Canisius (Thomas, 2010, p. 141; Julia, 2003, p. 262). Again, mocking the ill teaching of the Jesuits, the text reads as if coming from Eisengrein:

Also, it would be fine, if they would roll around in puddles and faeces, and if they would swallow up such things, it would be the best feeding. This and a lot of other such ribaldry, which I do not want to put here, does the epicurean swine spit out, and it is supposed to be pure wisdom (Auch sey es fein wenn sie sich süln/In pfützen und im Kotumbwüln/ (herumwühlen) Und wenn sie den gleich schlängen ein/So werds ir beste mästung sein. Solch und dergleichen zotten viel/Die ich hieher nicht setzen wil/Spith aus das Epicurisch Schwein/Und solt doch eitel Weisheit sein. Translation by Gerda Dinwiddie).

This passage was illustrated by the canine-piglet hybrids outside the school consuming their faeces, in other words, Jesuit teaching (figure H).

Wolfgang Meyerpeck, Suitae

Illustrating the depravity of the Jesuits, an interactive-folding engraving by the little-known artist, Wolfgang Meyerpeck (d.1595), adopted the canine and pig motif in the anti-papal print. By folding the layers of the print, the Jesuits are revealed to be monstrous canine-pig hybrids to discredit the Jesuits and their teachings as poisonous filth. This point is underscored not only using animals considered unclean, but the depiction of the Jesuit holding excrement with its hoof surrounded by flies adding to its putrid and repugnant impression. In its other hoof, the Jesuit appears to be holding an Aspergillum that was used to sprinkle holy water, believed to cleanse and exorcise evil (Psalm 51.7). The Aspergillum appears to reoccur in Protestant propaganda ironically. Although folding prints were not original in Protestant polemic, its level of sophistication is as each fold changes the image in both the foreground and background. Its limited text in conjunction with common motifs made it more readily accessible to a non-literate audience. The inclusion of biblical passages, however, also invited a literate audience to engage with their personal Bibles.

Wolfgang Meyerpeck, SUITÆ, c. 1569.
Etching, 29.5 cm tall (whole sheet) 9.2 cm wide. 15 cm tall (middle section) approx 7.8 cm tall each flap,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Prints and Drawings, Inv. nr. 59.508.92.
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959. Image from Suzanne Kathleen Karr Schmidt.

The folding leaflet gradually reveals the robed Jesuits as dog-swine hybrids, with the head of a floppy-eared dog with the body of a male or female pig and the long bushy tail of a wolf in the same way the young hybrids had been depicted in the Der Suiten broadsheet. Next to biblical passages in bold capitals is SUITÆ with JE almost completely erased and hidden behind the word falsche prophete (‘false prophet’) referencing Matthew 7.15-16 ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.’ In this way, the print directly references the broadsheet Der Suiten by taking the reference to Jesus out of their name. For this reason, Suzanne Schmidt has captioned the leaflet as representing the aforementioned Peter Canisius and Martin Eisengrein who were depicted in Der Suiten with a head of a dog and pig. However, since they are both portrayed with the heads of dogs in this print, it more likely inspired rather than intended to represent the particular leaders of the Jesuits in this case.

Not only does the print create a repugnant image of the Jesuits and brings their teaching into disrepute, it warns its audience that the sale of indulgences will not provide protection from Hell. As the hybrid Jesuits are disrobed, they hold onto a bone to symbolise papal greed. However, the depiction of a human skull by the disrobed Jesuit on the left could symbolise vanitas – to remind the audience of their mortality and afterlife and the sins of the earthly pursuits of the Catholic Church (Hall, 2008, pp. 135, 297). The Jesuits taught the contemplation of death and the transience of life (Hall, 2008, p. 293). The disrobed dog-headed Jesuit and the moralising message of the skull also points to the contradictory teachings of the Jesuits.

The portrayal of the sale of indulgence in the background underscores the greedy sentiment. At the bottom of the first frame, a sheep’s throat has been cut open and is bleeding. It represents the destruction of their congregation. Behind, a sow has given birth to suckling hybrid puppy-pigs, a further reference to Der Suiten. The print in the right frame reveals the sow wearing the papal tiara while copulating with a dog and simultaneously playing a pipe symbolising their love-making while they are being engulfed in Hellfire (Schmidt, 2006, p. 174; Hall, 2008, p. 224). The papal tiara has been coloured in the same red and yellow as the surrounding flames signifying the papacy’s place in Hell. The depiction of the papal sow copulating with a dog again directly refers to Der Suiten broadsheet revealing the birth of the Jesuits.

The indulgence overhanging the papal sow only appears to have text on it after the sow has given birth and the presence of the dead sheep making the direct link between their sale and Catholic corruption. The sinister motives of the papacy is underscored by the portrayal on the back of the leaflet of the pope who in the series of folds is revealed to be the whore of Babylon. The pope as the whore is no longer sitting upon a throne, but the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse while kings and clergy kiss at her feet.

Wolfgang Meyerpeck, SUITÆ, c. 1569.
Etching, 29.5 cm tall (whole sheet) 9.2 cm wide. 15 cm tall (middle section) approx 7.8 cm tall each flap,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Prints and Drawings, Inv. nr. 59.508.92.
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959. Image from Suzanne Kathleen Karr Schmidt.

Small demons are depicted whispering and blowing bellows in the ears of the Jesuits. These common motifs were used to illustrate that they were inspired by the Devil (Scribner, 1981, p. 231). It has been used in earlier anti-Lutheran polemical works to show that Luther had been inspired by the Devil, therefore these motifs would have been recognisable and easily understood by its viewing audience. An example of this iconography is seen in an engraving that may show Luther or an undetermined monk in prayer who himself was revealed to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The monk is portrayed with the legs and tail of a hairy wolf shown by his upturned cloak, thereby exposing his true nature. Around his feet, deceased prey, including a lamb resembling Christ’s flock, are depicted. A winged Devil flies beside the monk whispers into his ear with what was more commonly known as an Ohrenbläser (‘ear-blower’) in sixteenth-century German folklore (Andersson, 1984, p. 42). Similar to Meyerpeck’s print, biblical references surround the monk that cast him as a false prophet and warn people from following him and turning away from God.


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