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loose canons
There's a thin line between saintliness and madness. Here are inspiring tales of holy folly that laugh in the face of human wisdom... and also breathtaking examples of religious stupidity that fly in the face of common sense.

As told by Stephen Tomkins

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8: Dean of Hereford in love romp
N ELIZABETHAN TIMES, the clergy of Hereford used to mark holy days by parading around their cathedral in full ecclesiastical regalia, and of course deep meditation and pious humility.

After a while, the Dean became concerned that, as he walked round with his underlings and fellow servants of Christ, his own humble piety was not shining out above all the others, as befitted a man of his rank. He decided that from now on he would ride on horseback.

The first time he tried it, he set off reading a prayer book. The procession had barely started, when a nearby stallion spotted his mare, and instantly fell in love. The next thing Dean Price knew, his devotions were being very rudely interupted. The stallion also wanted to take a ride on the back of his new-found friend.

The poor Dean spent the rest of the parade trapped under the forelegs of the infatuated stallion, as the happy couple, evidently less concerned than he about the opinions of onlookers, did what comes naturally. Doubtless he took the opportunity to reflect on Jesus's words that those who pray to be seen already have their reward, and wonder what kind of reward this was supposed to be.

Still, he evidently learnt something from his unexpected involvement in this equine ménage à trois. Next time, he went on foot.

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