Europe’s history of penis worship was cast aside when the Catholic Church realized Jesus’s foreskin was too potent to control.
Grigori Rasputin’s dick is on display at the Museum of Erotics in Saint Petersburg. Housed in a jar of formaldehyde, the member, which the museum’s owner claims he obtained from a French antiquarian, is quite sizable. Actually, it’s enormous for a human penis: Wide and meaty, it measures about a foot long. According to the museum, just gazing on the preserved member can cure a range of problems, everything from infertility to a humdrum sex life. But the specimen isn’t a human penis. It more than likely came from a horse.
It wouldn’t be the first time something inhuman was passed off as Rasputin’s dick. An earlier version circulated after Rasputin’s 1916 murder, legendary for being long and difficult: an initial failed poisoning, followed by multiple gunshots, a beating, and finally a drowning. Legend has it that in the midst of the horror show the man in charge of the grisly plot, Prince Felix Yusupov, somehow managed to castrate the mad mystic. Rasputin’s penis was supposedly scurried out of the country and ended up in the hands of Russian émigrés in Paris. There, his dick became a kind of religious relic of their vanished homeland, a potent piece of a vanished social order.
According to Rasputin biographer Patte Barham, the émigrés treated it as quasi-sacred, keeping it in a makeshift reliquary and venerating it. The powerful appendage of the dead mystic had strength or reassurance to offer the beleaguered community. By the 1970s, Barham reported that Rasputin’s dick looked like “a blackened, overripe banana, about a foot long, and resting on a velvet cloth.” When Rasputin’s daughter Maria discovered that others were in possession of the only remaining earthly piece of her father, she successfully demanded the member be returned to its rightful heir. It stayed with her until her death in 1977, after which it was confirmed that the relic was actually a sea cucumber.