Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Loudun, France 1632.

  • It's late at night when suddenly, Jeanne awoke from a deep sleep to find a man standing

  • over her mat.

  • The mysterious stranger wept, begging her to pray with him.

  • Fumbling in terror, she excused herself and fled, fetching another nun who saw nothing….but

  • for the rest of the night both of them were disturbed by mysterious whispers.

  • Over the next several days, Jeanne began seeing the phantasm during the daytime.

  • Sometimes he begged her to pray.

  • Sometimes he whispered lascivious things to her.

  • Jeanne's skin crawled, it felt like her very bones itched.

  • Soon many of the nuns in the Ursuline convent of Loudun began experiencing similar symptoms.

  • Blood raced through their veins, their hearts pounded.

  • They hallucinated.

  • Voices urged them to do wicked things.

  • No matter how much penance and self flagellation the nuns performed, the symptoms persisted.

  • Their confessor thought they were possessed by demons.

  • He began holding exorcisms; sprinkling the nuns with holy water and praying over them.

  • The nuns cried out and mewled like cats.

  • They writhed and contorted their bodies into sexual positions.

  • By the authority of God, the priest demanded to know who had cursed the brides of Christ.

  • The eyes of one of the nuns rolled back into her head and a deep voice emanated from her

  • mouth.

  • Urban Grandier,” answered the demon.

  • Father Urban Grandier--the clergy had been betrayed by one of their own.

  • In 1617, Urbain Grandier was appointed the parish priest of the Church of Saint-Pierre-du-Marche

  • in the small town of Loudun.

  • He made a stir when he arrived at his post.

  • He was good looking, wealthy and well educated.

  • Over the next few years Grandier garnered quite a reputation.

  • Despite the fact that priests were supposed to be celibate, he had secret affairs with

  • several women of the town.

  • Quick witted and clever, Grandier was good at criticizing townspeople who disagreed with

  • him.

  • Some felt he was sympathetic to Huguenots, Protestant Christians who believed that simple

  • devout faith was preferable in religious life than the lavish ceremonies of the Roman Catholics.

  • There had been an ongoing power struggle between the religious sects for some time and Grandier

  • found himself in the middle of it.

  • His sexual escapades and his political beliefs made him a lot of enemies and only added fuel

  • to the fire.

  • Meanwhile, in 1626 near Loudun, the Ursuline convent was established.

  • The convent quickly became a popular place to send noble daughters who couldn't be

  • married off due to lack of money for a dowry or other reasons.

  • One of the few joys of the austere lives of the Ursuline nuns was gossiping about townspeople,

  • the most popular topic being Father Grandier.

  • After the first prioress passed away, in 1627, a new superior was appointed: Jeanne des Anges.

  • She had been sent to the convent because her hunchback and unattractive appearance made

  • her marriage prospects poor.

  • Ambitious Jeanne manipulated and lied her way into being appointed mother superior.

  • Though the women ran the nunnery themselves, they still confessed to a male priest.

  • Jeanne was apparently obsessed with Grandier and asked him to be the convent's chaplain.

  • He declined the honor.

  • In other accounts, Grandier wanted the position, but due to his behavior he wasn't considered

  • a suitable confessor for pure, young Brides of Christ.

  • Either way, Father Mignon who had a sterling reputation was selected to be the confessor

  • for the nuns of Ursuline.

  • In 1630, some of Grandier's critics managed to bring charges against him for immorality.

  • An enemy, the bishop of Poitiers found him guilty.

  • However, due to his connections to high political figures, Grandier was restored to full clerical

  • duties within the year.

  • Not long afterwards, the Loudun region was struck by a typhus plague.

  • The covent and other areas self segregated to limit exposure to sickness.

  • While the plague mainly subsided after about 6 months, anxiety, paranoia and other mental

  • health issues were rampant among the citizens.

  • By this time Jeanne had been prioress for about 5 years.

  • She was in charge of 17 nuns with an average age of 25.

  • For a long time, Jeanne had stewed over the fact that Father Grandier wasn't the confessor

  • for the nunnery.

  • She worked herself into hallucinations or lied and claimed she was experiencing hallucinations.

  • Real or not, she confessed to Father Mignon about visions of Grandier tormenting her.

  • Father Mignon and his assistant Father Barre were not fans of Grandier; they promptly turned

  • this odd situation to their advantage.

  • Later some of the nuns were to claim that Father Mignon harassed and tricked them into

  • being possessed.

  • It's possible that the Bishop of Poitiers conspired with Father Mignon to get the nuns

  • to claim that Father Grandier had bewitched them.

  • The truth is lost to history.

  • Symptoms spread throughout the nuns and soon most of the nunnery was afflicted with possession.

  • The nuns experienced everything from fits, to beatings from invisible spectres and hives.

  • Curiously some of the nuns seemed to suddenly speak foreign languages or displayed superhuman

  • strength, and a host of other crazy symptoms.

  • Father Mignon began holding exorcisms at the convent.

  • When prayed over or sprinkled with holy water, the nuns reacted, twisting their bodies into

  • odd shapes, uttering blasphemies in deep voices and crudely propositioning the priests in

  • graphic sexual terms.

  • When questioned, some of the nuns named the demons who had taken over their bodies.

  • Others, especially Jeanne claimed that Grandier had seduced them and that he was a magician

  • practicing the dark arts.

  • At first, Grandier was incredulous and laughed off the nuns' claims.

  • It was a foolish misculation.

  • The Witchcraft Act of 1604 called for the death penalty upon conviction of sorcery,

  • Witchcraft, and diabolical Pact.

  • As the accusations of witchcraft persisted, Grandier began to take the issue seriously

  • and mount a defense.

  • He wrote the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who ended up sending his personal physician to examine

  • the nuns.

  • The doctor found no evidence of true possession.

  • In March of 1633, the Archbishop ordered the exorcisms ceased and the convent sequestered.

  • The issue died down for several months, but later in the year the hysteria returned.

  • Cardinal Richelieu, who held power both in the Catholic church and as King Louis XIII's

  • chief minister got involved on behalf of the government.

  • Previously Richelieu and Grandier had clashed over Huguenots issues.

  • In November 1633, Richelieu appointed a political crony of his, Jean De Laubardemont, as leader

  • of a commission to investigate if Grandier was a witch.

  • As a precaution Grandier was arrested and imprisoned in the Castle of Algiers so he

  • couldn't flee the area.

  • The priests resumed exorcisms, but with a twist--instead of being held at the convent,

  • the exorcisms began being held publically.

  • In addition to Father Mignon and Father Barres, two other priests who specialized in exorcism-

  • Father Tranquille, and Father Lactance- joined the proceedings.

  • Up to 7,000 spectators came to see the possessed nuns.

  • Seeing the sexual acting out of the nuns turned public opinion against Grandier.

  • Also, many of the townspeople converted from Protestant to Catholicism as a result of the

  • public exorcisms.

  • Meanwhile, the commission questioned Grandier, adding further accusations.

  • They forced him to sign statements and denials which were then taken by Laubardemont to the

  • royal court in Paris.

  • The commission also intercepted letters and petitions from Grandier's supporters.

  • In May of 1634, Laubardemont returned to Loudun with a Decree of the Council, extending his

  • powers and prohibiting Parlement and all other judges from interfering in the matter, as

  • well as forbidding all parties concerned from appealing under penalty of a fine.

  • In fact, several Grandier supporters chose to flee France because of fear of the authorities

  • denouncing them as accessory witches.

  • During the trial an alleged pact made between Grandier and the Devil was brought to light.

  • The pact which confirmed Grandier's wicked duplicity was said to be stolen from Lucifer's

  • cabinet of devilish agreements by one of the tormenting demons.

  • The agreement allegedly written backward by Grandier in Latin and signed in Blood, outlined

  • Grandier's duties to the Devil and the benefits he would receive in turn.

  • Cosigners were Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, ELIMI, Leviathan, and Astaroth, and it was

  • notarized bysignature and mark of the chief devil, and my lords the princes of hell.”

  • Some nuns including Jeanne des Anges began recanting their testimonies of possession,

  • proclaiming Grandier's innocence.

  • She even appeared in court with a noose around her neck, threatening to hang herself if they

  • didn't let her recant her prior lies.

  • Ultimately, 72 witnesses swore evidence against Grandier.

  • Forgoing normal court procedures, the Royal Commission quickly passed a sentence on August

  • 18, 1634.

  • Urbain Grandier was found guilty of sorcery and placing evil spells to cause the possession

  • of the Ursuline nuns.

  • His punishment was to be burned alive at the stake.

  • However, before his execution Grandier was subjected to various tortures including the

  • boot in order to force him to name his accomplices.

  • Though they broke both his legs, Grandier refused to provide names.

  • He apologized for his previous lascivious ways, but steadfastly maintained his innocence

  • of witchcraft and any contracts with the devil.

  • Often the condemned were allowed to make a last statement to the crowd and were compassionately

  • strangled before burning at the stake.

  • However, Grandier was not allowed this small mercy.

  • Once he was on the scaffold the friars deluged him with holy water, preventing him from speaking.

  • Also Father Lactance lit the funeral pyre before the executioner could strangle Grandier,

  • causing him to be burned alive.

  • But Grandier had the last word.

  • As he struggled against the flames, Grandier reportedly told Father Lactance that he would

  • see God in 30 days.

  • Grandier was correct; Father Lactance died within a month.

  • In fact Grandier's death seemed to unleash a curse upon several people involved with

  • the trial.Within five years, Father Tranquille, one of the trial judges, Louis Chauvet and

  • Dr. Mannoury, a fraudulent physician, fell into delirium and died insane.

  • Father Barre eventually ended up being banished from the church for conspiring to accuse a

  • priest of rape on the altar.

  • Not long after Grandier's death, Father Jean-Joseph Surin came to Loudon to perform

  • exorcisms.

  • Jeanne de Anges had flip flopped back and forth between being possessed and claiming

  • that she lied.

  • Father Surin attempted an exorcism for her and allegedly became possessed by Jeanne's

  • devils.

  • Haunted, he went into a slow decline, eventually becoming unable to eat, dress himself, walk,

  • read, or write.

  • He tried to commit suicide, but was taken in by the Jesuit College at Saintes, and was

  • slowly nursed back to health.

  • However, Jeanne des Anges recovered from her malady.

  • She ended up travelling France displaying the curious physical sign from God that was

  • proof of her exorcism and supernatural healing: the names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and François

  • de Sales miraculously and indelibly etched on her left hand.

  • The exorcisms continued until 1637, 3 years after Grandier's death.

  • They had become quite the tourist attraction, twice a day except Sundays, the afflicted

  • nuns were exorcised for the titillation of the crowds.

  • Finally Cardinal Richeliu cut off financial support and the shows ended.

  • Now, check out this video on an ancient torture method, the Roman Candle.:

  • The Enfield Poltergeist caused panic and fear in a small town in England.

  • But what was really going on?:

Loudun, France 1632.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 jeanne father convent mignon possessed possession

The Demonic Possession Of The Nuns Of Loudun

  • 7 0
    Summer posted on 2020/08/07
Video vocabulary