List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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separated by a grating from the choir, in which the nuns who sang
usually sat.  In a few moments the superior was carried in on a small
bed, which was laid down before the grating.  Barre then said mass,
during which the superior went into violent convulsions.  She threw
her arms about, her fingers were clenched, her cheeks enormously
inflated, and her eyes turned up so that only the whites could be

The mass finished, Barre approached her to administer the holy
communion and to commence the exorcism.  Holding the holy wafer in
his hand, he said--

"Adora Deum tuum, creatorem tuum" (Adore God, thy Creator).

The superior hesitated, as if she found great difficulty in making
this act of love, but at length she said--

"Adoro te" (I adore Thee).

"Quem adoras?" (Whom dost thou adore?)

"Jesus Christus" (Jesus Christ), answered the nun, quite unconscious
that the verb adorn governs accusative.

This mistake, which no sixth-form boy would make, gave rise to bursts
of laughter in the church; and Daniel Douin, the provost's assessor,
was constrained to say aloud--

"There's a devil for you, who does not know much about transitive

Barre perceiving the bad impression that the superior's nominative
had made, hastened to ask her--

"Quis est iste quem adoras?" (Who is it whom thou dost adore?)

His hope was that she would again reply "Jesus Christus," but he was

"Jesu Christe," was her answer.

Renewed shouts of laughter greeted this infraction of one of the most
elementary rules of syntax, and several of those present exclaimed:

"Oh, your reverence, what very poor Latin!"

Barre pretended not to hear, and next asked what was the name of the
demon who had taken possession of her.  The poor superior, who was
greatly confused by the unexpected effect of her last two answers,
could not speak for a long time; but at length with great trouble she
brought out the name Asmodee, without daring to latinise it.  The
exorcist then inquired how many devils the superior had in her body,
and to this question she replied quite fluently

"Sex" ( Six).

The bailiff upon this requested Barre to ask the chief devil how many
evil spirits he had with him.  But the need for this answer had been
foreseen, and the nun unhesitatingly returned

"Quinque" (Five).

This answer raised Asmodee somewhat in the opinion of those present;
but when the bailiff adjured the superior to repeat in Greek what she
had just said in Latin she made no reply, and on the adjuration being
renewed she immediately recovered her senses.

The examination of the superior being thus cut short, a little nun
who appeared for the first time in public was brought forward.  She
began by twice pronouncing the name of Grandier with a loud laugh;
then turning to the bystanders, called out--

"For all your number, you can do nothing worth while."

As it was easy to see that nothing of importance was to be expected
from this new patient, she was soon suppressed, and her place taken
by the lay sister Claire who had already made her debut in the mother
superior's room

Hardly had she entered the choir than she uttered a groan, but as
soon as they placed her on the little bed on which the other nuns had
lain, she gave way to uncontrollable laughter, and cried out between
the paroxysms

"Grandier, Grandier, you must buy some at the market."

Barre at once declared that these wild and whirling words were a
proof of possession, and approached to exorcise the demon; but Sister
Claire resisted, and pretending to spit in the face of the exorcist,
put out her tongue at him, making indecent gestures, using a word in
harmony with her actions.  This word being in the vernacular was
understood by everyone and required no interpretation.

The exorcist then conjured her to give the name of the demon who was
in her, and she replied


But Barre by repeating his question gave her to understand that she
had made a mistake, whereupon she corrected herself and said


Nothing in the world could induce her to reveal the number of evil
spirits by whom Elimi was accompanied, so that Barre, seeing that it
was useless to press her on this point, passed on to the next

"Quo pacto ingressus est daemon"(By what pact did the demon get in?).

"Duplex" (Double), returned Sister Claire.

This horror of the ablative, when the ablative was absolutely
necessary, aroused once more the hilarity of the audience, and proved
that Sister Claire's devil was just as poor a Latin scholar as the
superior's, and Barre, fearing some new linguistic eccentricity on
the part of the evil spirit, adjourned the meeting to another day.

The paucity of learning shown in the answers of the nuns being
sufficient to convince any fairminded person that the whole affair
was a ridiculous comedy, the bailiff felt encouraged to persevere
until he had unravelled the whole plot.  Consequently, at three
o'clock in the afternoon, he returned to the convent, accompanied by
his clerk, by several magistrates, and by a considerable number of
the best known people of Loudun, and asked to see the superior.
Being admitted, he announced to Barre that he had come to insist on
the superior being separated from Sister Claire, so that each could
be exorcised apart.  Barre dared not refuse before such a great
number of witnesses, therefore the superior was isolated and the
exorcisms begun all over again.  Instantly the convulsions returned,
just as in the morning, only that now she twisted her feet into the
form of hooks, which was a new accomplishment.

Having adjured her several times, the exorcist succeeded in making
her repeat some prayers, and then sounded her as to the name and
number of the demons in possession, whereupon she said three times
that there was one called Achaos.  The bailiff then directed Barre to
ask if she were possessed 'ex pacto magi, aut ex Aura voluntate Dei'
(by a pact with a sorcerer or by the pure will of God), to which the
superior answered

"Non est voluutas Dei" (Not by the will of God).

Upon this, Barre dreading more questions from the bystanders, hastily
resumed his own catechism by asking who was the sorcerer.

"Urbanus," answered the superior.

"Est-ne Urbanus papa" (Is it Pope Urban?), asked the exorcist.

"Grandier," replied the superior.

"Quare ingressus es in corpus hujus puellae" (Why did you enter the
body of this maiden?), said Barre.

"Propter praesentiam tuum" (Because of your presence), answered the

At this point the bailiff, seeing no reason why the dialogue between
Barre and the superior should ever come to an end, interposed and
demanded that questions suggested by him and the other officials
present should be put to the superior, promising that if she answered
three of four such questions correctly, he, and those with him, would
believe in the reality of the possession, and would certify to that
effect.  Barre accepted the challenge, but unluckily just at that
moment the superior regained consciousness, and as it was already
late, everyone retired.


The next day, November 25th, the bailiff and the majority of the
officers of the two jurisdictions came to the convent once more, and
were all conducted to the choir.  In a few moments the curtains
behind the grating were drawn back, and the superior, lying on her
bed, came to view.  Barre began, as usual, by the celebration of
mass, during which the superior was seized with convulsions, and
exclaimed two or three times, "Grandier!  Grandier!  false priest!"
When the mass was over, the celebrant went behind the grating,
carrying the pyx; then, placing it on his head and holding it there,
he protested that in all he was doing he was actuated by the purest
motives and the highest integrity; that he had no desire to harm
anyone on earth; and he adjured God to strike him dead if he had been
guilty of any bad action or collusion, or had instigated the nuns to
any deceit during the investigation.

The prior of the Carmelites next advanced and made the same
declaration, taking the oath in the same manner, holding the pyx over
his head; and further calling down on himself and his brethren the
curse of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram if they had sinned during this
inquiry.  These protestations did not, however, produce the salutary
effect intended, some of those present saying aloud that such oaths
smacked of sacrilege.

Barre hearing the murmurs, hastened to begin the exorcisms, first
advancing to the superior to offer her the holy sacrament: but as
soon as she caught sight of him she became terribly convulsed, and
attempted to drag the pyx from his hands.  Barre, however, by
pronouncing the sacred words, overcame the repulsion of the superior,
and succeeded in placing the wafer in her mouth; she, however, pushed
it out again with her tongue, as if it made her sick; Barge caught it
in his fingers and gave it to her again, at the same time forbidding
the demon to make her vomit, and this time she succeeded in partly
swallowing the sacred morsel, but complained that it stuck in her
throat.  At last, in order to get it down, Barge three times gave her
water to drink; and then, as always during his exorcisms, he began by
interrogating the demon.

"Per quod pactum ingressus es in corpus hujus puellae?" (By what pact
didst thou enter the body of this maiden?)

"Aqua" ( By water), said the superior.

One of those who had accompanied the bailiff was a Scotchman called
Stracan, the head of the Reformed College of Loudun.  Hearing this
answer, he called on the demon to translate aqua into Gaelic, saying
if he gave this proof of having those linguistic attainments which
all bad spirits possess, he and those with him would be convinced
that the possession was genuine and no deception.  Barre, without
being in the least taken aback, replied that he would make the demon
say it if God permitted, and ordered the spirit to answer in Gaelic.
But though he repeated his command twice, it was not obeyed; on the
third repetition the superior said--

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