By Alicia McDermott
DAILYNEWS UG |WEIRD WEEKEND NEWS|
Over 300 years ago, at the convent of Palma di Montechiaro in Sicily, a nun named Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione claims to have been possessed by the devil.
According to the story, Sister Maria woke up one morning in 1676 covered in ink, having spent the night writing letters.
Maria, who had been at the convent since she was 15, is believed to have been screaming and fainting while writing the notes, which she said the Devil dictated to her.
Legends claim that, after a long battle between the nun and Satan, the letter was found in the nun’s hand on August 11, 1676 when she awoke from a fainting spell in her room with her face smeared with ink.
This event took place at the cloistered Nunnery of Palma di Montechiaro, in the province of Agrigento, in Sicily. Apparently, the nun and her sisters could not decode the text, but over time they decided that it must be the words of Satan trying to convince the young nun to turn away from her faith.
She claimed the possession was part of Lucifer’s plan to turn her against God and convince her to serve evil.
The writing featured a bizarre mixture of letters from archaic alphabets and no one was able to decipher the messages.
Today one of the mysterious texts is still intact and, thanks to researchers from the Ludum science centre in Italy, part of it has finally been decoded.
The breakthrough is thanks to a piece of software discovered on the dark web.
“We heard about the software, which we believe is used by intelligence services for codebreaking,” Daniele Abate, director of the centre, told The Times.
“We primed the software with ancient Greek, Arabic, the Runic alphabet and Latin to descramble some of the letter and show that it really is devlish.”
The letter, is said to describe God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as “deadweights” and states: “God thinks he can free mortals” but “this system works for no one.”It even goes as far as to claim that God was invented by man.
There is also a reference made within the writing to the the River Styx, which in Greek mythology is said to separate the realm of the living from the underworld.
It says: “Perhaps now, Styx is certain.”
Despite the findings, Daniele doesn’t believe Sister Maria was ever possessed by the devil, but instead that she may have suffered “from a condition like schizophrenia”.
He explained: “I personally believe that the nun had a good command of languages, which allowed her to invent the code, and may have suffered from a condition like schizophrenia, which made her imagine dialogues with the Devil.”
“The letter appeared as if it was written in shorthand. We speculated that Sister Maria created a new vocabulary using ancient alphabets that she may have known,” Abate Said.
“We analyzed how the syllables and graphisms [or thoughts depicted as symbols] repeated in the letter in order to locate vowels, and we ended up with a refined decryption algorithm.”The letter is inconsistent and rambles somewhat incoherently on the connections between God, humans, and Satan. It claims that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are “deadweights”, and goes on to say that humans invented God and Zoroaster. It also asserts that “God thinks he can free mortals” adding “this system works for no one”.Finally, it seems to refer to the River Styx, which separates the Earth and the Underworld in Greek and Roman mythology, in a curious phrase “Perhaps now, Styx is certain.”
Crossing the Styx, illustration by Gustave Doré, 1861.
Some people see the letter’s content as “chilling”, or as possible proof that Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione had been possessed by the devil, while others say it was the nun’s elaborate creation. For his part, Daniele Abate believes the nun had bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and may have experienced hallucinations and delusions. “The image of the devil is often present in these disorders. We learned from historical records that every night she screamed and fought against the devil,” Abate said
He also told the media
“[T]his is a precise alphabet, invented by the nun with great care by mixing symbols she knew. Each symbol is well thought out and structured, there are signs that are repeated, perhaps an intentional and perhaps unconscious initiative. The stress of life in the monastery was very strong.”
According to Italian News Radio 105, sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione had received two more messages from Satan, but she was unwilling to write or reveal their content.
William Blake’s illustration of Satan as presented in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. ( Publuic Domain)
Top Image: A section of the letter supposedly written by a nun possessed by Satan. Source: Daniele Abate