Oddity of the Week: The Comte de Saint Germain
The Comte de Saint Germain was a European courtier, with an interest in science and the arts. He achieved prominence in European high society of the mid-1700s. In order to deflect inquiries as to his origins, he would invent fantasies, such as that he was 500 years old, leading Voltaire to ironically dub him “The Wonderman”.
His birth and background are obscure, but towards the end of his life he claimed that he was a son of Prince Francis II Rákóczi of Transylvania.
Myths, legends and speculations about St. Germain began to be widespread in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and continue today. They include beliefs that he is immortal, the Wandering Jew, an alchemist with the “Elixir of Life”, a Rosicrucian, and that he prophesied the French Revolution.
The Wandering Jew is a figure from medieval Christian mythology whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century.
The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer’s indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character; sometimes he is said to be a shoemaker or other tradesman, while sometimes he is the doorman at Pontius Pilate’s estate.
He is said to have met the forger Giuseppe Balsamo (alias Cagliostro) in London and the composer Rameau in Venice. Some groups honor Saint Germain as a supernatural being called an Ascended Master.
Madame Blavatsky and her pupil, Annie Besant, both claimed to have met the Count who was traveling under a different name.