The Handsome Lazarus and Joannes Baptista Colloredo…
17th Century Parasitic Twin
Long dark mane, that almost sinister stance, and a sharply groomed set of facial hair. Lazarus Colloredo was an extremely handsome being. That is, until you’ve beheld the mass of dangling flesh, or what looks like to be a corpse, hanging from his abdomen. That my friend, is no member of the dead, it is his living, breathing, moaning, and drooling brother, Joannes Baptista Colloredo.
I stumbled across the prodigy while searching for cabinet cards and curiosities. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m a huge fan of the odd and grotesque? Skulls, bones, medical quackery, ancient artifacts, animal parts, cabinet cards, funeral paraphernalia, ritual tools, etc. are all things I admire and collect. I was looking through old photographs and illustrations when I first laid eyes upon this striking pair. One particular image I took a fondness to was an illustration by the artist James G. Mundie, an illustrator of fine curiosities. At first, all I saw was a Spanish-looking stud, appearing to be so beautifully gallant, just before my pupils drifted down further…I was immediately intrigued. (Ha, and I’m not speaking of any trouser serpents, not this time.)
Lazarus and his parasitic twin, Joannes Baptista (named after John the Baptist), were one of the earliest and most well documented cases of the kind. The 17th century duo were in-fact born in Genoa, Italy and had earned their living by touring parts of Europe. The Colloredos had visited many higher-ups and figures of royalty. Some of their acquaintances may have included the Duke of Lennox and Richmond, James Stuart, and the entire court of Charles I of England. On the streets, Lazarus would drape his capacious cloak over Joannes, to make certain he would not be noticed. Although, there were accounts of him allowing spectators to poke, pinch, and irritate Joannes. When doing so, his brother would leave his constant state of salivation to squeal, twitch, or spew out other nonverbal bellows. Occasionally, the limp twin could be seen fluttering his eyes and performing other less than minimal independent movements. If you’re as curious as I am, I’d like to tell you that Lazarus’ parasitic half did have genitals, but they were said to be “imperfect” or amiss. Actually, the unfortunate brother was only made up of two arms, a head, partial chest, and one leg. Oh yeah, and that ill-sufficient baloney pony I just mentioned too.
On the other hand, it has been said that the courteous and charming Lazarus Colloredo did marry and fathered several healthy children, who aged admirably.
Lazarus-Joannes Colloredo’s date of death is unclear, but it is estimated that they perished sometime in the 1640’s.