List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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their promises better this time than the last.  Physicians were
invited to examine the superior's side and her clothes; and amongst
those who came forward was Duncan, whose presence guaranteed the
public against deception; but none of the exorcists ventured to
exclude him, despite the hatred in which they held him--a hatred
which they would have made him feel if he had not been under the
special protection of Marshal Breze.  The physicians having completed
their examination, gave the following certificate:--

"We have found no wound in the patient's side, no rent in her
vestments, and our search revealed no sharp instrument hidden in the
folds of her dress."

These preliminaries having been got through, Pere Lactance questioned
her in French for nearly two hours, her answers being in the same
language.  Then he passed from questions to adjurations: on this,
Duncan came forward, and said a promise had been given that the
superior's hands should be tied behind her back, in order that there
might be no room for suspicion of fraud, and that the moment had now
arrived to keep that promise.  Pere Lactance admitted the justice of
the demand, but said as there were many present who had never seen
the superior in convulsions such as afflicted the possessed, it would
be only fair that she should be exorcised for their satisfaction
before binding her.  Accordingly he began to repeat the form of
exorcism, and the superior was immediately attacked by frightful
convulsions, which in a few minutes produced complete exhaustion, so
that she fell on her face to the ground, and turning on her left arm
and side, remained motionless some instants, after which she uttered
a low cry, followed by a groan.  The physicians approached her, and
Duncan seeing her take away her hand from her left side, seized her
arm, and found that the tips of her fingers were stained with blood.
They then examined her clothing and body, and found her dress,
bodice, and chemise cut through in three places, the cuts being less
than an inch long.  There were also three scratches beneath the left
breast, so slight as to be scarcely more than skin deep, the middle
one being a barleycorn in length; still, from all three a sufficient
quantity of blood had oozed to stain the chemise above them.

This time the fraud was so glaring that even de Laubardemont
exhibited some signs of confusion because of the number and quality
of the spectators.  He would not, however, allow the doctors to
include in their report their opinion as to the manner in which the
wounds were inflicted; but Grandier protested against this in a
Statement of Facts, which he drew up during the night, and which was
distributed next day.

It was as follows:

"That if the superior had not groaned the physicians would not have
removed her clothes, and would have suffered her to be bound, without
having the least idea that the wounds were already made; that then
the exorcists would have commanded the devils to come forth, leaving
the traces they had promised; that the superior would then have gone
through the most extraordinary contortions of which she was capable,
and have had a long fit of, convulsions, at the end of which she
would have been delivered from the three demons, and the wounds would
have been found in her body; that her groans, which had betrayed her,
had by God's will thwarted the best-laid plans of men and devils.
Why do you suppose," he went on to ask, "that clean incised wounds,
such as a sharp blade would make, 'were chosen for a token, seeing
that the wounds left by devils resemble burns?  Was it not because it
was easier for the superior to conceal a lancet with which to wound
herself slightly, than to conceal any instrument sufficiently heated
to burn her?  Why do you think the left side was chosen rather than
the forehead and nose, if not because she could not give herself a
wound in either of those places without being seen by all the
spectators?  Why was the left side rather than the right chosen, if
it were not that it was easier for the superior to wound herself with
her right hand, which she habitually used, in the left side than in
the right?  Why did she turn on her left side and arm and remain so
long in that position, if it were not to hide from the bystanders the
instrument with which she wounded herself?  What do you think caused
her to groan, in spite of all her resolution, if it were not the pain
of the wound she gave herself? for the most courageous cannot repress
a shudder when the surgeon opens a vein.  Why were her finger-tips
stained with blood, if it were not that the secreted blade was so
small that the fingers which held it could not escape being reddened
by the blood it caused to flow?  How came it that the wounds were so
superficial that they barely went deeper than the cuticle, while
devils are known to rend and tear demoniacs when leaving them, if it
were not that the superior did not hate herself enough to inflict
deep and dangerous wounds?"

Despite this logical protest from Grandier and the barefaced knavery
of the exorcist, M. de Laubardemont prepared a report of the
expulsion of the three devils, Asmodeus, Gresil, and Aman, from the
body of sister Jeanne des Anges, through three wounds below the
region of the heart; a report which was afterwards shamelessly used
against Grandier, and of which the memorandum still exists, a
monument, not so much of credulity and superstition, as of hatred and
revenge.  Pere Lactance, in order to allay the suspicions which the
pretended miracle had aroused among the eye-wittnesses, asked Balaam,
one of the four demons who still remained in the superior's body, the
following day, why Asmodeus and his two companions had gone out
against their promise, while the superior's face and hands were
hidden from the people.

"To lengthen the incredulity of certain people," answered Balaam.

As for Pere Tranquille, he published a little volume describing the
whole affair, in which, with the irresponsible frivolity of a true
Capuchin, he poked fun at those who could not swallow the miracles

"They had every reason to feel vexed," he said, "at the small
courtesy or civility shown by the demons to persons of their merit
and station; but if they had examined their consciences, perhaps they
would have found the real reason of their discontent, and, turning
their anger against themselves, would have done penance for having
come to the exorcisms led by a depraved moral sense and a prying

Nothing remarkable happened from the 20th May till the 13th June, a
day which became noteworthy by reason of the superior's vomiting a
quill a finger long.  It was doubtless this last miracle which
brought the Bishop of Poitiers to Loudun, "not," as he said to those
who came to pay their respects to him, "to examine into the
genuineness of the possession, but to force those to believe who
still doubted, and to discover the classes which Urbain had founded
to teach the black art to pupils of both sexes."

Thereupon the opinion began to prevail among the people that it would
be prudent to believe in the possession, since the king, the
cardinal-duke, and the bishop believed in it, and that continued
doubt would lay them open to the charges of disloyalty to their king
and their Church, and of complicity in the crimes of Grandier, and
thus draw down upon them the ruthless punishment of Laubardemont.

"The reason we feel so certain that our work is pleasing to God is
that it is also pleasing to the king," wrote Pere Lactance.

The arrival of the bishop was followed by a new exorcism; and of this
an eye-witness, who was a good Catholic and a firm believer in
possession, has left us a written description, more interesting than
any we could give.  We shall present it to our readers, word for
word, as it stands:--

"On Friday, 23rd June 1634, on the Eve of Saint John, about 3 p.m.,
the Lord Bishop of Poitiers and M. de Laubardemont being present in
the church of Sainte-Croix of Loudun, to continue the exorcisms of
the Ursuline nuns, by order of M, de Laubardemont, commissioner,
Urbain Grandier, priest-in-charge, accused and denounced as a
magician by the said possessed nuns, was brought from his prison to
the said church.

"There were produced by the said commissioner to the said Urbain
Grandier four pacts mentioned several times by the said possessed
nuns at the preceding exorcisms, which the devils who possessed the
nuns declared they had made with the said Grandier on several
occasions: there was one in especial which Leviathan gave up on
Saturday the 17th inst., composed of an infant's heart procured at a
witches' sabbath, held in Orleans in 1631; the ashes of a consecrated
wafer, blood, etc., of the said Grandier,  whereby Leviathan asserted
he had entered the body of the sister, Jeanne des Anges, the superior
of the said nuns, and took possession of her with his coadjutors
Beherit, Eazas, and Balaam, on December 8th, 1632.  Another such pact
was composed of the pips of Grenada oranges, and was given up by
Asmodeus and a number of other devils.  It had been made to hinder
Beherit from keeping his promise to lift the commissioner's hat two
inches from his head and to hold it there the length of a Miseyere,
as a sign that he had come out of the nun.  On all these pacts being
shown to the said Grandier, he said, without astonishment, but with
much firmness and resolution, that he had no knowledge of them
whatever, that he had never made them, and had not the skill by which
to make them, that he had held no communication with devils, and knew
nothing of what they were talking about.  A report of all this being
made and shown to him, he signed it.

"This done, they brought all the possessed nuns, to the number of
eleven or twelve, including three lay sisters, also possessed, into
the choir of the said church, accompanied by a great many monks,
Carmelites, Capuchins, and Franciscans; and by three physicians and a
surgeon.  The sisters on entering made some wanton remarks, calling
Grandier their master, and exhibiting great delight at seeing him.

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