Sunday, June 28, 2009


A few words about this most ancient of demons whose chief aim in life is to introduce errors into manuscripts, essays, letters, billets doux, and any other writing which, despite being proof read, invariably ends up with hidden mistakes which immediately upon publication are illuminated in the most glaring and embarrassing fashion.

Thank heaven for Titivillus, upon whom we can heap all blame!!!

Titivillus evidently gained prominence in the Middle Ages when he discovered the monasteries and the scribes ripe for his devilish work. The Scriptorium was a most important part of the monastery, heavily fortified against thievery. The time and labour involved in producing a hand written book, beautifully embellished, made them invaluable. Just the thing to catch Titivillus's evil eye...

"Monks who toiled in the scriptorium were called scribes. Because of the danger of a disastrous fire, no candles or fires were permitted, so in winter they had to work as best they could in the cold and the dark........Writing required long periods of intense concentration, and the scribes would pray earnestly for the strength and fortitude to complete his holy task, and for the Recording Angel to give him due credit at the final Heavenly audit"

Of course Titivillus let no opportunity pass to thwart them. I have a number of times received through e-mail a story of a bright young monk who found an error in the most ancient of manuscripts - one in which an 'R' was left out of a word which should have been CELEBRATE.

This mischief in the monasteries was not Titivillus's only task. He is an elusive character and stories about him were current among the Egyptian monasteries of the Desert Fathers in the 4th Century AD. He was characterized as a recording demon, meticulously writing down all the sins he could find people committing, for delivery to Satan as ammunition on the Day of Reckoning.

Titivillus frequented high places in church and was sometimes depicted as a sack-filling demon, gathering together idle chatter and gossip as it floated up to him, or mumbled and garbled prayers said without proper reverence, - all of which he stuffed into a large sack.

In this day and age I can quite imagine Titivillus gathering out of space all the idle Internet gossip and chatter, and his value as a scapegoat is enormous: "the malevolent entity upon whose head we can heap all the errors and typos and omissions and inaccuracies that we find daily on the internet".

This posting arose from my recent encounter with Titivillus who caused this mornings Church Bulletin to be dated May 24th, and furthermore inserted the wrong Gospel reading. I airily blamed the Little Demon, and he arose to the heights of the church, sulking. It would be interesting to know what whispered gossip and asides he found up there to stuff into his Sack.....

I am sure you will find some evidence of his presence within this posting, even with the spell checkre!


The Weaver of Grass said...

I always wondered what generated the mistakes in my writing. It reminds me of a cleaning lady I used to have years ago - if ever anything got chipped, cracked or broken then we would always say it was the cleaning lady - the poor dear got blamed for everything in her absence - in reality she never broke or chipped a thing.

Fonnell/Grammie/mom said...

he he he he......If only he'd show himself to our readers who suffer the reading of his mistakes. Then we would be believed "Not I"