LAZARUS-JOANNES – Early Parasitic Twins

Ambrose Paré wrote in 1530 of a forty year old man with a headless parasitic body hanging ‘like a pendulum’ from his belly. He also wrote of a German man, ‘born the same year that peace was made with the Swiss and King Francis’ who had a parasitic head protruding from his abdomen. These accounts and the illustrations that accompanied them serve as the earliest confirmed documentation of an epigastric parasite. One can hypothesize that many mythologies – like the gods Vishnu (many arms) and Janus (two headed / many faced) resulted from the observation of human marvels born attached to a parasitic twin.

One of the most well documented cases of early parasitic twining is the case of Lazarus-Joannes Baptista Colloredo (pictured). The 17th century anatomist Bartholinus detailed the history of Lazarus-Joannes Baptista Colloredo quite diligently and personally observed the man for the purpose of documentation. Born in Genoa in 1617, Colloredo exhibited himself all over Europe because from his belly hung a parasitic twin that had one thigh, hands, body, arms, and even a well-formed head covered with hair. Lazarus was the name the complete twin was known by and his underdeveloped sibling was Joannes. It is highly unlikely that these were their giving names as Joannes Baptista translates to ‘John the Baptist’ in English. However, interestingly enough, it was the practice of the day to baptize both twins in a parasite or conjoined twin situation.

There were allegedly some faint signs that Joannes had some independent existence as movements of respiration were evident as were occasional rapid eye fluttering movements. The mouth of Joannes was said to be in a state of near constant salivation and Bartholinus himself wrote that he had seen the arms of Joannes move in response to stimuli. The genitals of Joannes were said to be ‘imperfect’ and it is unclear if any regular eliminations occurred.

Bartholinus first examined Colloredo when the twins were aged at twenty-two however he later amending his report when he was able to examine the twins in Scotland in 1642 just before they were to visit Charles I. Most accounts of the time described Lazarus as courteous and handsome man even with Joannes in tow and that must have been true because Bartholinus reported that Lazarus was married and the father of several children who were fully and admirably developed.

It is believed that Lazarus-Joannes Baptista Colloredo died in the mid 1640’s, however the exact date is unknown.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Author, researcher and an expert of the odd, J. Tithonus Pednaud has been chronicling bizarre history and highlighting the lives of those born exceeding different for over a decade.

12 Comments

  • Reply October 13, 2008

    Tiff

    Well, I was one of the first girls in the Roanoke Valley, VA to be proven to have Aspbergers Autism. I was one of the rare cases at my old school, “The Achievement Center” to have both that disorder and ADHD. But, it’s hereditary, I am a fourth generation autistic and descendant of famous English minister, Rev. Robert Bracewelll. Not as special as those people mentioned above.

  • [...] che sparisce o rimane sotto forma di mostruosa appendice. “Fetus in fetu“, si dice, e qui (Human Marvels: storie e immagini di freaks e fenomeni d’altri tempi, le cui biografie non di [...]

  • Reply September 24, 2011

    Ness

    Tiff, I can tell that you have Asbergers…because nobody gives a shit.

    • Reply March 16, 2012

      LakeLover

      Ness, you are the ass.

      Tiff, keep sharing your story so more people begin the understand and accept Asperger’s.

  • Reply October 3, 2011

    samantha

    Ha.

  • Reply November 4, 2011

    RJ

    Ness and Samantha- Shame on you. Has this site taught you nothing? Internet anonymity is no excuse for complete lack of empathy for your fellow human beings. Making fun of those weaker than you, or different, is about the most base and disgusting form of bullying. It’s not funny. Good for you, Tiff, for sharing your story. I’m glad you identify with the amazing people on this site who took what could have been a set back and made it into an opportunity. I wish the same for you!

  • Reply November 24, 2011

    ANN

    Well said RJ.

  • [...] Origin of the Freak Show, Part One. The beginning of the series covers antiquity to Lazarus Collerdo and his parasitic twin Johannes Baptisa Collerdo in the 17th century. * Robert Platshorn was sentenced to 64 years in prison as a marijuana kingpin [...]

  • [...] Origin of the Freak Show, Part One. The beginning of the series covers antiquity to Lazarus Collerdo and his parasitic twin Johannes Baptisa Collerdo in the 17th century. * Robert Platshorn was sentenced to 64 years in prison as a marijuana kingpin [...]

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  • Reply December 10, 2013

    Francesca

    Hello, I love your site. Just one thing: I am from Genoa, and I can tell you that it is possible indeed that Joannes Baptista was the real name of one of the twins, as “Giovanni Battista”(often used in the shortened form “Gio’Batta”)was one of the most popular male names in the Genoese area, because St.John the Baptist is the patron saint of the city.
    Thank you for your amazing work!
    Francesca

  • […] The Human Marvels […]

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