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Can a werewolf receive communion?


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Philip Kosloski - published on 10/25/21

An Irish legend tells of a Catholic priest who gave communion to a dying werewolf.

In the Middle Ages, legends and folk tales full of monstrous creatures were popular. One favorite fearful image was the werewolf, a being that is half-human, half-wolf.

Interestingly, this mythical creature is found in many stories in Ireland, such as the account found in the Topographia Hibernica (Topography of Ireland) by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales).

He tells the story of an Irish priest who encountered a werewolf.

I now proceed to relate some wonderful occurrences which have happened within our times. About three years before the arrival of earl John in Ireland, it chanced that a priest who was journeying from Ulster towards Meath was benighted in a certain wood on the borders of Meath. While in company with only a young lad, he was watching by a fire which he had kindled under the branches of a spreading tree, lo a wolf came up to them and immediately addressed them to this effect, “Rest secure and be not afraid for there is no reason you should fear, where no fear is.” The travelers being struck with astonishment and alarm, the wolf added some orthodoxwords referring to God. The priest then implored him and adjured him by Almighty God and faith in the Trinity not to hurt them, but to inform them what creature it was that, in the shape of a beast, uttered human words.

The wolf then proceeds to explain how he is a human, but cursed to assume the form of a wolf every few years.

The reason the werewolf approached the priest was to ask him to give the last rites to a werewolf that was dying.

[H]e beheld a she-wolf, who under that shape, pouring forth human sighs and groans. On seeing priest, having saluted him with human courtesy, she gave thanks to God, who in this extremity bad vouchsafed visit her with such consolation. She then received from the priest all the rites of the church duly performed, as far as the last communion. This also she demanded earnestly supplicating him to complete his offices by giving her the viaticum.

The priest was hesitant to give the werewolf communion, but eventually submitted to the request.

There are many other stories from Ireland that highlight the presence of werewolves, and reveal a more human side to the typical, terrifying tale.

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