List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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convent.  This priest, whose name was Pierre Barre, was exactly the
man whom Mignon needed in such a crisis.  He was of melancholy
temperament, and dreamed dreams and saw visions; his one ambition was
to gain a reputation for asceticism and holiness.  Desiring to
surround his visit with the solemnity befitting such an important
event, he set out for Loudun at the head of all his parishioners, the
whole procession going on foot, in order to arouse interest and
curiosity; but this measure was quite needless it took less than that
to set the town agog.

While the faithful filled the churches offering up prayers for the
success of the exorcisms, Mignon and Barre entered upon their task at
the convent, where they remained shut up with the nuns for six hours.
At the end of this time Barre appeared and announced to his
parishioners that they might go back to Chinon without him, for he
had made up his mind to remain for the present at Loudun, in order to
aid the venerable director of the Ursuline convent in the holy work
he had undertaken; he enjoined on them to pray morning and evening,
with all possible fervour, that, in spite of the serious dangers by
which it was surrounded, the good cause might finally triumph.  This
advice, unaccompanied as it was by any explanation, redoubled the
curiosity of the people, and the belief gained ground that it was not
merely one or two nuns who were possessed of devils, but the whole
sisterhood.  It was not very long before the name of the magician who
had worked this wonder began to be mentioned quite openly: Satan, it
was said, had drawn Urbain Grandier into his power, through his
pride.  Urbain had entered into a pact with the Evil Spirit by which
he had sold him his soul in return for being made the most learned
man on earth.  Now, as Urbain's knowledge was much greater than that
of the inhabitants of Loudun, this story gained general credence in
the town, although here and there was to be found a man sufficiently
enlightened to shrug his shoulders at these absurdities, and to laugh
at the mummeries, of which as yet he saw only the ridiculous side,

For the next ten or twelve days Mignon and Barre spent the greater
part of their time at the convent; sometimes remaining there for six
hours at a stretch, sometimes the entire day.  At length, on Monday,
the 11th of October, 1632, they wrote to the priest of Venier, to
Messire Guillaume Cerisay de la Gueriniere, bailiff of the Loudenois,
and to Messire Louis Chauvet, civil lieutenant, begging them to visit
the Ursuline convent, in order to examine two nuns who were possessed
by evil spirits, and to verify the strange and almost incredible
manifestations of this possession.  Being thus formally appealed to,
the two magistrates could not avoid compliance with the request.  It
must be confessed that they were not free from curiosity, and felt
far from sorry at being able to get to the bottom of the mystery of
which for some time the whole town was talking.  They repaired,
therefore, to the convent, intending to make a thorough investigation
as to the reality of the possession and as to the efficacy of the
exorcisms employed.  Should they judge that the nuns were really
possessed, and that those who tried to deliver them were in earnest,
they would authorise the continuation of the efforts at exorcism; but
if they were not satisfied on these two points, they would soon put
an end to the whole thing as a comedy.  When they reached the door,
Mignon, wearing alb and stole, came to meet them.  He told them that
the feelings of the nuns had for more than two weeks been harrowed by
the apparition of spectres and other blood-curdling visions, that the
mother superior and two nuns had evidently been possessed by evil
spirits for over a week; that owing to the efforts of Barre and same
Carmelite friars who were good enough to assist him against their
common enemies, the devils had been temporarily driven out, but on
the previous Sunday night, the 10th of October, the mother superior,
Jeanne de Belfield, whose conventual name was Jeanne des Anges, and a
lay sister called Jeanne Dumagnoux, had again been entered into by
the same spirits.  It had, however, been discovered by means of
exorcisms that a new compact, of which the symbol and token was a
bunch of roses, had been concluded, the symbol and token of the first
having been three black thorns.  He added that during the time of the
first possession the demons had refused to give their names, but by
the power of his exorcisms this reluctance had been overcome, the
spirit which had resumed possession of the mother superior having at
length revealed that its name was Ashtaroth, one of the greatest
enemies of God, while the devil which had entered into the lay sister
was of a lower order, and was called Sabulon.  Unfortunately,
continued Mignon, just now the two afflicted nuns were resting, and
he requested the bailiff and the civil lieutenant to put off their
inspection till a little later.  The two magistrates were just about
to go away, when a nun appeared, saying that the devils were again
doing their worst with the two into whom they had entered.
Consequently, they accompanied Mignon and the priest from Venier to
an upper room, in which were seven narrow beds, of which two only
were occupied, one by the mother superior and the other by the lay
sister.  The superior, who was the more thoroughly possessed of the
two, was surrounded by the Carmelite monks, the sisters belonging to
the convent, Mathurin Rousseau, priest and canon of Sainte-Croix, and
Mannouri, a surgeon from the town.

No sooner did the two magistrates join the others than the superior
was seized with violent convulsions, writhing and uttering squeals in
exact imitation of a sucking pig.  The two magistrates looked on in
profound astonishment, which was greatly increased when they saw the
patient now bury herself in her bed, now spring right out of it, the
whole performance being accompanied by such diabolical gestures and
grimaces that, if they were not quite convinced that the possession
was genuine, they were at least filled with admiration of the manner
in which it was simulated.  Mignon next informed the bailiff and the
civil lieutenant, that although the superior had never learned Latin
she would reply in that language to all the questions addressed to
her, if such were their desire.  The magistrates answered that as
they were there in order to examine thoroughly into the facts of the
case, they begged the exorcists to give them every possible proof
that the possession was real.  Upon this, Mignon approached the
mother superior, and, having ordered everyone to be silent, placed
two of his fingers in her mouth, and, having gone through the form of
exorcism prescribed by the ritual, he asked the following questions
word for word as they are given,

D.  Why have you entered into the body of this young girl?
R.  Causa animositatis.       Out of enmity.
D.  Per quod pactum?          By what pact?
R.  Per flores.               By flowers.
D.  Quales?                   What flowers?
R.  Rosas.                    Roses.
D.  Quis misfit?              By whom wert thou sent?

At this question the magistrates remarked that the superior hesitated
to reply; twice she opened her mouth in vain, but the third time she
said in a weak voice

D.  Dic cognomen?             What is his surname?
R.  Urbanus.                  Urbain.

Here there was again the same hesitation, but as if impelled by the
will of the exorcist she answered--

R.  Grandier.                 Grandier.
D.  Dic qualitatem?           What is his profession?
R.  Sacerdos.                 A priest.
D.  Cujus ecclesiae?          Of what church?
R.  Sancti Petri.             Saint-Pierre.
D.  Quae persona attulit
    flores?                   Who brought the flowers?
R.  Diabolica.                Someone sent by the devil.

As the patient pronounced the last word she recovered her senses, and
having repeated a prayer, attempted to swallow a morsel of bread
which was offered her; she was, however, obliged to spit it out,
saying it was so dry she could not get it down.

Something more liquid was then brought, but even of that she could
swallow very little, as she fell into convulsions every few minutes.

Upon this the two officials, seeing there was nothing more to be got
out of the superior, withdrew to one of the window recesses and began
to converse in a low tone; whereupon Mignon, who feared that they had
not been sufficiently impressed, followed them, and drew their
attention to the fact that there was much in what they had just seen
to recall the case of Gaufredi, who had been put to death a few years
before in consequence of a decree of the Parliament of Aix, in
Provence.  This ill-judged remark of Mignon showed so clearly what
his aim was that the magistrates made no reply.  The civil lieutenant
remarked that he had been surprised that Mignon had not made any
attempt to find out the cause of the enmity of which the superior had
spoken, and which it was so important to find out; but Mignon excused
himself by saying that he had no right to put questions merely to
gratify curiosity.  The civil lieutenant was about to insist on the
matter being investigated, when the lay sister in her turn went into
a fit, thus extricating Mignon from his embarrassment.  The
magistrates approached the lay sister's bed at once, and directed
Mignon to put the same questions to her as to the superior: he did
so, but all in vain; all she would reply was, "To the other!  To the

Mignon explained this refusal to answer by saying that the evil
spirit which was in her was of an inferior order, and referred all
questioners to Ashtaroth, who was his superior.  As this was the only
explanation, good or bad, offered them by Mignon, the magistrates
went away, and drew up a report of all they had seen and heard
without comment, merely appending their signatures.

But in the town very few people showed the same discretion and
reticence as the magistrates.  The bigoted believed, the hypocrites

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