“Faithful John” (or Faithful Johannes) is a Grimm fairy tale about the servant of the king who must watch over the prince after the king dies. The prince falls in love with the portrait of a beautiful princess and faithful John schemes with the prince to get her to marry him. On their way home with the (kidnapped) princess (who decides she is no longer kidnapped after she finds out he’s a prince), many terrible things befall the prince, but faithful John saves him each time. The last time, John saves the princess, but the prince is suspicious of him, so he is to be beheaded. John reveals that he saved the princes life after hearing some ravens prophesy about those events. But for telling the truth, John is turned to stone. The prince laments John’s death, even after he and his new bride have two children. One day outside the church, the statue of John comes to life and tells the prince he can be brought back if the prince beheads his children. John hesitates, but does so, restoring John’s life. John (thankfully!) is able to restore the lives of the children as well and they live happily ever after.
[this is an abridged summary of the tale, from my memory of just reading it. I am reminded of the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, where the father is told to kill the son, but in that story God tells Abraham he doesn’t need to at the last moment.][the original Grimm stories are so brutal. beheading of children!]