Vampires (Vrykolakas) and crosses

This is a post for those who watch vampire movies and/or read vampire books. Have you ever wondered why it is that, in the old tales, vampires (vrykolakas) react to Christian symbols? In the original Dracula, by Bram Stoker, Dracula reacted not only to the cross/crucifix, but also to Holy Water, the Rosary, garlic, and to the consecrated host. It is fun to read different message boards and discussion groups to see the various explanations. But, rarely is there a consequent explanation. In fact, it is so hard to find a reasonable explanation that modern writers have given up on it. Modern vampires have few weaknesses left, simply because it has been so difficult to find a consistent and consequent explanation that will satisfy modern readers. Mind you, some writers have taken the out of simply saying that vampires react to any symbol of faith from any faith if wielded by a true believer in that faith. However, that approach quickly dropped out of favor.

So, it was with genuine pleasure that Father Orthoduck read another author who has tried to find a reasonable explanation for those reactions (Sue Dent was the first one I read who tried). In the case of this author, vampires react only to Christian symbols and to no other. The reason was simple. The original vampires were descendants of Judas. Supposedly, after Christ rose, relatives of Judas tried raising him from the dead by using the wood of the Cross. But, what they raised was a short-lived rotting corpse. Next, they attempted again by using the blood of the Judas’ corpse. But each was turned into a creature who rose in the night and needed the blood of others to survive. In other words, a vampire.

Like the mark of Cain, they received the mark of Judas. Because they betrayed the Cross, because they betrayed the True Light, because they used wood soaked with the blood of Christ, because they used the blood of the Betrayer, they cannot stand the symbols of Christianity; they cannot come into sacred ground. Mind you, Father Orthoduck cannot explain the garlic of Bram Stoker, but then, this author does not make them allergic to garlic. This also explains why they are not vulnerable to any other symbol of faith. They are the descendants of Judas.

Interestingly enough, this author adds one more detail to her writings. In her books, the vampires are the most religious of anyone in the books. What does the author mean about their being the most religious? They have no doubt about Jesus’ death and resurrection. They have no doubt that blessed objects are powerful. They have no doubt about the reality of the sacraments.

Father Orthoduck finds this a refreshing change from the modern vampire trend of glowing vampires, nice vampires, etc. Father Orthoduck cannot fully recommend the books because they contain some typical modern elements. But, he appreciates the fact that the basic premises behind the book are consistent and consequent and pay due respect to Christian symbols.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Fred Saberhagen explained the garlic aversion this way: Vampires have enhanced senses to detect and track down their prey. Garlic is a very strong odor that they find very unpleasant.

      In Saberhagen’s Dracula Tapes (retelling Bram Stoker from Dracula’s POV, pointing out every plot hole in the original) there’s a comedy-relief scene where Vlad is hiding from Van Helsing under Mina’s bed, face down in an (under) bed of garlic cloves, holding his nose against the stench.

Leave a Reply -- who knows what might happen?