A tall, lean, wide-mouthed, long-nosed friar of Seville, who dispatched his matins with wonderful celerity, and ran through his vigils quicker than any of his fraternity. He swore lustily, and was a Trojan to fight. When the army from Lerne pillaged the convent vineyard, Friar John seized the staff of a cross and pummelled the rogues most lustily. He beat out the brains of some, crushed the arms of others, battered their legs, cracked their ribs, gashed their faces, broke their thighs, tore their jaws, dashed in their teeth, dislocated their joints, that never corn was so mauled by the thresher's flail as were these pillagers by the “baton of the cross.” (Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, book i. 27.)
“If a joke more than usually profane is to be uttered, Friar John is the spokesman. ... A mass of lewdness, debauchery, profanity, and valour.” —Foreign Quarterly Review.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894