The Devil and the Nun

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 7, 2020 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Fishy Fridays, History, Scandals, Sex

On the morning of August 11, 1676, a young nun named Maria was found on the floor of her cell.  Her face was smeared with ink.  Her hand held a sheet of paper covered with inscrutable glyphs.  She told the other nuns that the Devil appeared to her in the night and tried to turn her away from her faith. To persuade Maria, the Devil took over her facilities and wrote a letter with her hand.  The writing was not in Latin or any familiar language. It was a mysterious jumble of occult symbols and archaic letters.  No one was able to decipher the letter by the Devil. 

Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione was 15 years old when she entered the Benedictine convent in Palma di Montechiaro, Sicily. She was 31 at the time of the Devil’s visit.  Maria had a history of struggling against the Devil.  She would scream at him at night. In the convent’s chapel, she would shriek and lose consciousness.  She was convinced that Satan was trying to turn her towards evil.

In 2017, director Daniel Abate and a research team from the Ludum science center in Catania, Sicily cracked the code.  They used an algorithm found on the Deep Web. “We heard about the software,” Abate said, “which is used by intelligence services for coding breaking. We primed the software with ancient Greek, Arabic, the Runic alphabet and Latin to descramble some of the letter.”  The team was eventually able to translate 15 lines, which were certainly devilish for a nun to express:

“Humans are responsible for the creation of God.”

“This system works for no one.”

“God thinks he can free mortals.”

“Perhaps now, Styx is certain.”

“God and Jesus are dead weights.

“We speculated that Sister Maria created a new vocabulary using ancient alphabets that she may have known,” Abate said. “This is a precise alphabet, invented by the nun with great care by mixing symbols that she knew. We analyzed how the syllables and graphisms (or thoughts depicted as symbols) repeated in the letter in order to locate vowels, and we ended up with a refined decryption algorithm.”  Abate thought Sister Maria had a good command of languages, which allowed her to invent the code.  There is no information on what happened to her after the incident.

The letter was an elaborate hoax by Sister Maria. Why did she do it? How was she sure that she would not be found out? If she knew ancient alphabets, didn’t any of the other nuns at her convent know them as well? Abate believes the nun had schizophrenia, which made her imagine dialogues with the Devil.

Here’s my guess across 344 years:  She was frustrated, pent-up, tormented by sexual desires or guilt. She had some doubts about the faith, which bothered her.  Her small stage as a woman and as a nun bothered her. She was conflicted, she wanted attention, and she acted out her doubts and obsessions. The Devil was a good prop.  Once she started with the screams and convulsions, she had to keep it up.  She probably wanted to keep it up; the letter was a good finale.  She won her fight against Satan and became a heroine in the convent.

Sister Maria most likely heard about other demonic possessions and Satanic letters in other convents.  The 17th century was full of them, all featuring young nuns tempted by sex and heresy including Aix-en-Provence in 1611; Lille in 1613, Loudon in 1634 and Louviers in 1647. They are full of real and imagined seductions by priests and other nuns. I am surprised that no one has thought to do a full-blown historical and psychological study on these possessions, and their links with sex, female rebellion, and church politics.




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9 Responses to “The Devil and the Nun”

  1. Tom Says:

    You said they translated 15 lines but you only put 5! I’ve looked at a bunch of articles on the internet and NONE OF THEM HAVE THE FULL TRANSLATION! What is wrong with everyone? Why can’t someone show a photo of the note with the translation process? DETAILS PLEASE!

  2. Karen Says:

    Tom, I included the translation the researchers released. Each phrase does not constitute one line! The nun wrote in runes, hieroglyphs and in different languages hundreds of years old. The translation to modern Italian or English is not a perfect line by line match. I suggest you write to the researchers and ask them for more detail, if you think there is more that they haven’t shared on the web.

  3. Michael Says:

    Someone knows what the translation means and it’s the people’s RIGHT to know. I encourage those who are in the know to share all.

  4. Gary Says:

    So your telling me a monostary of nuns teachesancient runic. Greek I can see but your telling me this woman knew ancient egyptian and runic that’s bull. Greek is Catholic not the others. Seems more legit them other demonic cases I’ve heard of. Mind you Egypt was still covered in sand during that time let alone fully decoded.

  5. John Says:

    Sources say Sister Maria was surrounded by 15 pages of this letter, and if 70% of it has been translated, where is it? It would certainly be more than these 5 lines, but I cant seem to find the full letter, translated or untranslated, anywhere.

  6. Nico Says:

    Gary, since when is the Greek language a catholic language? What is a catholic language. Greek is a Indo- European language which uses letters created before Christianity existed. Even a Latin language wouldn’t be Catholic or Christian as they spoke it in ancient Rome. The only Christian language is the still non commonly translated one used to make it harder to understand the Bible. There is no Christian language. Also her being a linguist she could of known demonic especially if she knew any ancient Greek language and could of had knowledge of even older Egyptian there wasn’t just hieroglyphs they had a written language as well but especially modern greek or dimotiki and Egyptian she could of learned from a book she was a linguist probably transcribing the Bible into other languages.

  7. Gregory Says:

    Given the year in which this occurred, it stretches credibility to imagine that a Sicilian woman of common birth would have access to the reading material required to command a strong enough knowledge of the languages in question to form a code….let alone a conversant message. Great story….thanks for sharing

  8. Mharlito Usana Says:

    Interesting, so poor Isabella Tomasi in 1676 which is the 16th century who was possessed by a demon who wrote 15 lines right at 3 am after midnight and throughout the entire night instead of 5 lines eh… ? I guess these Scientist are either an Atheist or just too afraid to see what Beelzebub AKA Lucifer himself said about GOD! which is proof that the Devil exist and not some made up fairy tale from a Bible, I don’t find that scary at all nor offensive, its called “Knowledge!” It’s not like you’re going to get possessed reading it, they’re just lines. Everyone needs to know but hey, the rebellion in heaven is the only reason Lucifer had been turned into the Devil and God didn’t like it so he rousted his soul with Fire and that is how we get hell ! Seriously Scientist, just give us all 15 lines unless you are afraid of it! I’m sure non of us are afraid of a 15 line letter.

  9. I'm not the one Says:

    It’s so sad that when somebody has something happen to them that others either are too afraid to admit that it could be true or real and or to stuck up and stuck in their ways of a medical reasons that they don’t have any space in their head for faith religious or spiritual or things outside of the realm of a book that are possible.. and that can and do happen. Or maybe if they put their name on the statement that they have made they’re going to look to others as a quack and that the only things that can happen in this world are something that has already been discussed and diagnosed and it is in a book.. They believe in facts not the supernatural… it was not in a book or medical book it can’t happen .. 1676 was a hell of a long time ago. We don’t know much but what really happened because stories change from year to year to year. The only person that really knows what happened where the nuns in that convent. What is fact … a piece of paper that has several different languages on it that they had to use a computer the dark web and a government decoder to figure out. I don’t think….anybody should have a negative opinion about her if they are not sitting next to her in 1676 and do the same thing as she did!!!! some would think of people back in the 1600s as primitive people . This woman wrote a letter using code that they had to decipher with 2017 technology. Also who’s to believe the people that decoded it??? Stuff they found a dark web how did they get access to the dark web why would you get access to the dark web?? That’s pretty disturbing and those people are even more Disturbed..

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