Demonology: Cases of Possession

[Demonic Possession]    [Exorcism]    [Demonologists]    [Historical Connections] [Works Cited]

Aix-en-Provence Possessions

Baalberith (lord of the covenant) was one of the many demons responsible for the possessions of Aix-en-Provence; other demons included were Beelzebub, Ashtaroth (teacher of the sciences and revealer of events in the past, present and future), and Asmodeus. Sister Madeleine de Demandolx of the Ursuline convent proclaimed she was possessed by the aforementioned demons in the early seventeenth century. She claimed "she saw visions, danced and sang love-songs, writhed in indecent postures and told blood-chilling tales of sodomy and the cannibal eating of children at witch revels she had attended (Cavendish 263)." Shortly after her startling accounts, Father Gaufridi, her confessor, was determined to have seduced and bewitched her. He was burnt at Aix in 1611 following torture and strangulation. The two nuns, Sister Madeleine Demandolx de la Palud and Sister Louise Capel were later expelled from the convent.

 

Loudun Possessions

In 1634, the most famous case of possession hysteria in history occurred in a small town called Loudun. It was speculated that Father Urbain Grandier inflicted possession onto the Ursuline nuns of Loudun. These accusations first began with the Mother Superior Jeanne des Agnes' claims of having illicit and demonic dreams in which Grandier was portrayed. "Unfortunately for the tortured nun, no amount of penance kept her dreams at bay, and soon, the other nuns followed in her footsteps (Connolly 5)." Eventually, all of the nuns succumbed to the hysteria of the Mother Superior's dreams. In time, they all began to have their own.

Two of the demons named responsible for the possessions of Loudun were Asmodeus and Zabulon.. As time progressed, Jeanne des Agnes added more names to the roster of demons possessing the nuns. These demons included: Asmodeus, Zabulon, Isacaaron, Astaroth, Gresil, Amand, Leviatom, Behemot, Beherie, Easas, Celsus, Acaos, Cedon, Alex, Naphthalim, Cham, Ureil, and Achas.

Eventually, Grandier was charged, tortured, and convicted. He was sent to his death by being burnt alive. The nuns were apparently exorcised by Father Surin, a famous exorcist at the time, however he later succumbed to the very demons he banished, having gone insane. Not surprisingly, the possessions finally ceased when in 1637, the fraud was uncovered.

 

Louviers Possessions

In 1642, eighteen nuns became possessed on the promptings of Sister Madeleine Bavent.

Father Mathurin Picard, the nunnery director, and Father Thomas Boulle, the vicar at Louviers, were convicted on the evidence of the possessed nuns' recounts. As a mere child of eighteen, Sister Madeleine Bavent, was the initial possession victim. Her testimony was successful in throwing the church into a state of panic.

Supposedly, according of Madeleine, Fathers Picard and Boulle had taken the nuns to secret sabbats. At these gatherings, they associated with numerous demons, namely the demon Dagon by Bavent's testimony. Testimonies quickly followed from the other nuns reinforcing Bavent's claims. Upon further investigation from the church and it's authorities, it was discovered that the nuns were suffering from the classic symptoms of possession.

The exorcism rites that followed were made public. This enabled the entire town of Louviers to become totally engrossed in the church and it's proceedings. After the exorcisms, Sister Bavent was imprisoned for life, Father Boulle was burnt alive, and the corpse of Father Picard, who was fortunate enough to have dies earlier, was exhumed and burned.


 

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