There have been many different cases of demonic possession recorded in history. The Catholic Church itself has not been immune to such incidents. One of the most famous fraudulent cases was the Loudun Possessions that took place in an Ursuline Convent in Poitiers, France. It all started with a woman called Jeanne.
Now, this is no movie heroine; she wasn’t beautiful or kind at all. She was born in 1602 and suffered from tuberculosis as a child and this stunted her growth and left her with a hunchback. Because of this she developed a rather nasty attitude where she mocked others and considered everyone to be her enemy. Even her parents couldn’t stand her and tried to ship off to her aunt who was a prioress at a nearby abbey. She was sent home after three years. So, when she was old enough she was sent to the Ursuline convent where the nuns tolerated her because of her family’s wealth.
When she found that the prioress was retiring, she made herself indispensable and used ingratiating behavior to gain favor. It worked as she became mother superior at the age of 25. Around this time, Jeanne developed a sexual obsession with a priest named Father Urbain Grandier. She offered him a position as Ursuline’s director but her refused, saying her was not worthy and was too busy with parish duties. Jeanne took this as a grave insult and allied herself with growing enemies of Grandier.
So, how does this story evolve into possession? Well, as usual rumors were spread of nightly visits of incubi that resembled the priest. Soon a plot was conceived in which Grandier was accused of bewitching the nuns. They even went as far as to call in exorcists. Word began to spread even farther that the nuns were plagues by demons and the demons blamed Father Grandier. This escalated into public exorcisms in which the nuns, Jeanne in particular convulsed on the floor and growled. In her autobiography, Jeanne wrote she didn’t believe she was plagued by demons because she’d made no pact, but later wrote that she’s had a disturbance of the mind during that time. She began to believe her own hype.
|Cathedral of Bayeux (France, Normandy), exorcism by Saint Exupère (painting by Rupalley) picture by Philippe Alès|
So, during one of the exorcisms in which two magistrates attended, two “demons” confirmed she had made a pact and blamed it on poor Father Grandier, whose only crime was that he was sexy. Despite the very little evidence, Grandier was found guilty of consorting with demons and was executed.
After the execution the show continued. Jeanne even developed a false pregnancy that was supposedly brought about by one of the demons inside here (there were many). The new exorcist, Father Surin dedicated his attention to trying to rid Jeanne of her devils, if not through exorcism then he would elevate her soul. For a long time, she dislike Father Surin but had a turnabout, stating that she wanted to become a saint. This thing continued for years, with so-called miracles coming to pass and more exorcisms. By the time she died, Jeanne was escalated to sainthood.
Do you believe exorcisms are real?