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A Viennese legend about a toothache

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna has a statue that is officially named “Man of Sorrow.” But to the Viennese, the statue is known affectionately as “Christ with a toothache.” Ingrid Prohaska, an Austrian blogger who writes about Viennese legends, tells of the dental emergency that caused the statue to acquire this nickname.

According to the legend, a group of three friends were on their way home after a night of drinking at the pub. The three friends loved to play practical jokes on one another.

On their way home, they passed by St. Stephen’s Cathedral and they noticed that the “Man of Sorrow” statue had a fresh garland of flowers on its head. In order to prevent the flowers from flying away, they wrapped a cloth around the statue’s head, tying the cloth underneath the chin. This led Junker Diepold, who was the ringleader of the group, to quip: “It looks like Our Lord has a toothache! No wonder He is standing in a drafty place!”

That night, Junker could not sleep because he had suddenly developed an extreme toothache. Finally, he went to an emergency dentist, who examined Junker and said that there was nothing wrong with his teeth. The dentist added that Junker was the third person that night who had reported a sudden toothache but who had nothing wrong with his teeth.

Junker immediately felt remorseful and went back to the cathedral to apologize to the statue and beg for forgiveness. Junker’s toothache miraculously disappeared. And that’s why, to this day, the statue in the cathedral is known as “Christ with a toothache.”

Source: Ingrid Prohaska. “Viennese Legends: Christ with a Toothache.” July 8, 2011.