Tomorrow’s the day: On Saturday, July 25, a statue of the demon Baphomet will be unveiled in the city of Detroit.
I described the one-ton idol, which was originally intended for display at the Oklahoma State House, last week in the National Catholic Register:
The statue is a nine-foot-tall, 2,000-pound bronze likeness of Baphomet, a horned demon who has been associated with the medieval Knights Templar. The demon, depicted in this sculpture as a goat’s head atop a man’s body with horns and wings, is seated with two small children at its side, and is large enough to accommodate adults or children who would like to sit on its lap for photos.
The Satanic Temple of Detroit, which is unveiling the statue at a still-undisclosed location, posted an invitation to the dark event on its website:
“The Satanic Temple invites you to join us for a night of chaos, noise, and debauchery at The Unveiling, a hedonistic celebration introducing the controversial Baphomet monument accompanied by provocative performances and installations.
“Never before seen in public, The Satanic Temple Baphomet monument is already the most controversial and politically charged contemporary work of art in the world. Weighing one ton and towering at nearly nine feet tall, the bronze statue is not only an unparalleled artistic triumph, but stands as a testament to plurality and the power of collective action. The event will serve as a call-to-arms from which we’ll kick off our largest fight to date in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats. Come dance with the Devil and experience history in the making.”
I guess I’m one of those “self-serving theocrats” which the Satanic Temple derides. And since I’m based in southeastern Michigan, I had actually petitioned the Satanic Temple for a media pass to the great Unveiling. The mere thought of placing myself in the proximity of such an evil event had caused my skin to crawl; so I was relieved when local president Jex Blackmore denied my request. I’ll have to learn about it after the fact, and from a safe distance.
Detroit has perhaps opened the doors to the Evil One before this:
The night before Halloween, October 30, has long been celebrated as “Devils Night” in Detroit. Back in the 1930s, the night brought mild vandalism: youths tossing eggs, leaving flaming bags of animal dung on people’s porches, toilet papering trees. In the early 1970s, however, a new trend of vandalism and arson emerged. At its peak in 1984, there were more than 800 arson fires set in the city on Devils Night. The destruction has been reduced (but not eliminated) in recent years, as the city’s residents rally to protect their homes. The counter-event has been called “Angels Night” and more than 40,000 city residents volunteer to patrol the streets, greatly reducing vandalism.
THE NAIN ROUGE
The “Nain Rouge” (or “Red Dwarf”) is a mythical figure which, according to legend, haunts Detroit and is cause for all of the problems that plague the city. The Nain Rouge is believed to have originated in Normandy, and it was originally believed to be a helpful spirit. More recently, however, a visit from the Nain Rouge has preceded disastrous events in the city.
Wikipedia tells some of the nymph’s story:
The creature is said to have attacked the first white settler of Detroit in 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac who, soon after, lost his fortune. The creature is also said to have appeared on July 30, 1763 before the Battle of Bloody Run, where 58 British soldiers were killed by Native Americans from Chief Pontiac’s tribe. The small tributary of the Detroit River which still flows through what is now Elmwood Cemetery turned red with blood for days after the battle. It is said he was seen dancing on the banks of the Detroit River.
Multiple famous sightings occurred in the days before the 1805 fire, which destroyed most of Detroit. General William Hull reported a “dwarf attack” in the fog just before his surrender of Detroit in the War of 1812.
Jane Dacy of East Elizabeth Street was at home performing errands one evening in October of 1872 when she entered a dark room and saw what the Detroit Free Press called a ghost. However, the description of “blood-red eyes, long teeth and rattling hoofs” seems more akin to the famed Nain Rouge than a mere specter. The fright of seeing the creature caused Dacy to faint and become bed-ridden.
Another woman claimed to have been attacked in 1884, and described the creature as resembling, “a baboon with a horned head … brilliant restless eyes and a devilish leer on its face.” Another attack was reported in 1964.
Other sightings include the day before the 12th Street Riot in 1967 and before a huge snow/ice storm of March 1976, when two utility workers are said to have seen what they thought was a child climbing a utility pole which then jumped from the top of the pole and ran away as they approached.
In 2010, a community-based movement called the Marche du Nain Rouge began in the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood, near Wayne State University. On the Spring Equinox, costumed revelers parade through the neighborhood, chasing the imp. At the end of the parade, an effigy of the Nain Rouge is ceremonially destroyed–banishing the evil spirit from the city for another year. Parade participants and spectators are encouraged to wear costumes, so that when the Nain Rouge returns, he will not recognize them and thus will not be able to seek personal vengeance.
Hundreds of participants turn out for the Marche du Nain Rouge, what is for most a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Detroit’s folkloric ancient guardian. By 2014 the event had garnered official support, with Alexis Wiley, a representative of Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan, speaking to the crowd.
AND NOW–THE SATANIC TEMPLE
Detroit has the dubious honor of being home to the first local chapter of the Satanic Temple. With more than 200 participants throughout the state and 20 active members in Detroit, the Satanic Temple has taken a stand against the free expression of religion in Michigan. The group supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and religious plurality. They have opposed Michigan’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, constructed a Satanic display on the Capitol lawn in Lansing, inserting their own pagan symbols into the traditionally Christian holy day celebrating the birth of Christ.
But the unveiling of a great idol such as Baphomet surpasses these earlier initiatives, and people of faith recognize that this event truly invokes Satan himself and invites him to our city.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PRAYER AND REPENTANCE
Detroit’s Mother of Divine Mercy Catholic parish will hold a Mass and Eucharistic Holy Hour on that same day in reparation and prayer for the city of Detroit. The special Mass and Eucharistic Holy Hour will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church near Detroit’s Eastern Market, one of three clustered churches which together comprise Mother of Divine Mercy.
Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 25, and will be followed by a Holy Hour with opportunities for Confession. Catholics who would like to join in prayer are invited. More information about the Mass of Reparation and about the history of Baphomet are available at the National Catholic Register. Information about St. Joseph Church and about the Mass is available at the Register and at the parish website, motherofdivinemercy.org.