List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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"Thereupon Pere Lactance and Gabriel, a Franciscan brother, and one
of the exorcists, exhorted all present with great fervour to lift up
their hearts to God and to make an act of contrition for the offences
committed against His divine majesty, and to pray that the number of
their sins might not be an obstacle to the fulfilment of the plans
which He in His providence had formed for the promotion of His glory
on that occasion, and to give outward proof of their heartfelt grief
by repeating the Confiteor as a preparation for the blessing of the
Lord Bishop of Poitiers.  This having been done, he went on to say
that the matter in question was of such moment and so important in
its relation to the great truths of the Roman Catholic Church, that
this consideration alone ought to be sufficient to excite their
devotion; and furthermore, that the affliction of these poor sisters
was so peculiar and had lasted so long, that charity impelled all
those who had the right to work for their deliverance and the
expulsion of the devils, to employ the power entrusted to them with
their office in accomplishing so worthy a task by the forms of
exorcism prescribed by the Church to its ministers; then addressing
Grandier, he said that he having been anointed as a priest belonged
to this number, and that he ought to help with all his power and with
all his energy, if the bishop were pleased to allow him to do so, and
to remit his suspension from authority.  The bishop having granted
permission, the Franciscan friar offered a stole to Grandier, who,
turning towards the prelate, asked him if he might take it.  On
receiving a reply in the affirmative, he passed it round his neck,
and on being offered a copy of the ritual, he asked permission to
accept it as before, and received the bishop's blessing, prostrating
himself at his feet to kiss them; whereupon the Veni Creator Spiritus
having been sung, he rose, and addressing the bishop, asked--

"'My lord, whom am I to exorcise?'"

The said bishop having replied--

"'These maidens.'

" Grandier again asked--

"'What maidens?'

"'The possessed maidens,' was the answer.

"'That is to say, my lord,' said he; "that I am obliged to believe in
the fact of possession.  The Church believes in it, therefore I too
believe; but I cannot believe that a sorcerer can cause a Christian
to be possessed unless the Christian consent.'

"Upon this, some of those present exclaimed that it was heretical to
profess such a belief; that the contrary was indubitable, believed by
the whole Church and approved by the Sorbonne.  To which he replied
that his mind on that point was not yet irrevocably made up, that
what he had said was simply his own idea, and that in any case he
submitted to the opinion of the whole body of which he was only a
member; that nobody was declared a heretic for having doubts, but
only for persisting in them, and that what he had advanced was only
for the purpose of drawing an assurance from the bishop that in doing
what he was about to do he would not be abusing the authority of the
Church.  Sister Catherine having been brought to him by the
Franciscan as the most ignorant of all the nuns, and the least open
to the suspicion of being acquainted with Latin, he began the
exorcism in the form prescribed by the ritual.  But as soon as he
began to question her he was interrupted, for all the other nuns were
attacked by devils, and uttered strange and terrible noises.  Amongst
the rest, Sister Claire came near, and reproached him for his
blindness and obstinacy, so that he was forced to leave the nun with
whom he had begun, and address his words to the said Sister Claire,
who during the entire duration of the exorcism continued to talk at
random, without paying any heed to Grandier's words, which were also
interrupted by the mother superior, to whom he of last gave
attention, leaving Sister Claire.  But it is to be noted that before
beginning to exorcise the superior, he said, speaking in Latin as
heretofore, that knowing she understood Latin, he would question her
in Greek.  To which the devil replied by the mouth of the possessed

"'Ah! how clever you are!  You know it was one of the first
conditions of our pact that I was not to answer in Greek.'

"Upon this, he cried, 'O pulchra illusio, egregica evasio!'
( O superb fraud, outrageous evasion!)

"He was then told that he was permitted to exorcise in Greek,
provided he first wrote down what he wished to say, and the superior
hereupon said that he should be answered in what language he pleased;
but it was impossible, for as soon as he opened his mouth all the
nuns recommenced their shrieks and paroxysms, showing unexampled
despair, and giving way to convulsions, which in each patient assumed
a new form, and persisting in accusing Grandier of using magic and
the black art to torment them; offering to wring his neck if they
were allowed, and trying to outrage his feelings in every possible
way.  But this being against the prohibitions of the Church, the
priests and monks present worked with the utmost zeal to calm the
frenzy which had seized on the nuns.  Grandier meanwhile remained
calm and unmoved, gazing fixedly at the maniacs, protesting his
innocence, and praying to God for protection.  Then addressing
himself to the bishop and M. de Laubardemont, he implored them by the
ecclesiastical and royal authority of which they were the ministers
to command these demons to wring his neck, or at least to put a mark
in his forehead, if he were guilty of the crime of which they accused
him, that the glory of God might be shown forth, the authority of the
Church vindicated, and himself brought to confusion, provided that
the nuns did not touch him with their hands.  But to this the bishop
and the commissioner would not consent, because they did not want to
be responsible for what might happen to him, neither would they
expose the authority of the Church to the wiles of the devils, who
might have made some pact on that point with Grandier.  Then the
exorcists, to the number of eight, having commanded the devils to be
silent and to cease their tumult, ordered a brazier to be brought,
and into this they threw the pacts one by one, whereupon the
convulsions returned with such awful violence and confused cries,
rising into frenzied shrieks, and accompanied by such horrible
contortions, that the scene might have been taken for an orgy of
witches, were it not for the sanctity of the place and the character
of those present, of whom Grandier, in outward seeming at least, was
the least amazed of any, although he had the most reason.  The devils
continued their accusations, citing the places, the days, and the
hours of their intercourse with him; the first spell he cast on them,
his scandalous behaviour, his insensibility, his abjurations of God
and the faith.  To all this he calmly returned that these accusations
were calumnies, and all the more unjust considering his profession;
that he renounced Satan and all his fiends, having neither knowledge
nor comprehension of them; that in spite of all he was a Christian,
and what was more, an anointed priest; that though he knew himself to
be a sinful man, yet his trust was in God and in His Christ; that he
had never indulged in such abominations, end that it would be
impossible to furnish any pertinent and convincing proof of his

"At this point no words could express what the senses perceived; eyes
and ears received an impression of being surrounded by furies such as
had never been gathered together before; and unless accustomed to
such ghastly scenes as those who sacrifice to demons, no one could
keep his mind free from astonishment and horror in the midst of such
a spectacle.  Grandier alone remained unchanged through it all,
seemingly insensible to the monstrous exhibitions, singing hymns to
the Lord with the rest of the people, as confident as if he were
guarded by legions of angels.  One of the demons cried out that
Beelzebub was standing between him and Pere Tranquille the Capuchin,
upon which Grandier said to the demon--

"'Obmutescas!' (Hold thy peace).

"Upon this the demon began to curse, and said that was their
watchword; but they could not hold their peace, because God was
infinitely powerful, and the powers of hell could not prevail against
Him.  Thereupon they all struggled to get at Grandier, threatening to
tear him limb from limb, to point out his marks, to strangle him
although he was their master; whereupon he seized a chance to say he
was neither their master nor their servant, and that it was
incredible that they should in the same breath acknowledge him for
their master and express a desire to strangle him: on hearing this,
the frenzy of the nuns reached its height, and they kicked their
slippers into his face.

"'Just look!' said he; 'the shoes drop from the hoofs of their own

"At length, had it not been for the help and interposition of people
in the choir, the nuns in their frenzy would have taken the life of
the chief personage in this spectacle; so there was no choice but to
take him away from the church and the furies who threatened his life.
He was therefore brought back to prison about six o'clock in the
evening, and the rest of the day the exorcists were employed in
calming the poor sisters--a task of no small difficulty."

Everyone did not regard the possessed sisters with the indulgent eye
of the author of the above narrative, and many saw in this terrible
exhibition of hysteria and convulsions an infamous and sacrilegious
orgy, at which revenge ran riot.  There was such difference of
opinion about it that it was considered necessary to publish the
following proclamation by means of placards on July 2nd:

"All persons, of whatever rank or profession, are hereby expressly
forbidden to traduce, or in any way malign, the nuns and other
persons at Loudun possessed by evil spirits; or their exorcists; or
those who accompany them either to the places appointed for exorcism
or elsewhere; in any form or manner whatever, on pain of a fine of

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