In the 17th century, a Sicilian nun supposedly became possessed by the devil and wrote a letter. After years of mystery, it has been translated to find out what the ‘devil’ said.
The nun, Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione, apparently woke up one morning in 1676 to find herself covered in ink with the letter before her.
The message was scrawled with characters from a mixture of archaic alphabets, and the nun told her convent that Lucifer himself had taken over her body to write the mysterious note.
She is believed to have screamed and fainted as the strange events took place.
Like the fallen angel himself, Sister Maria believed the letter was the devil’s way of forcing her to turn her back on God.
The other nuns believed what Sister Maria told them, and for years afterward the sisters at the convent tried to translate the devil’s letter.
It seems there was no success until recently when a group of researchers from the Ludum science centre in Sicily were able to help crack the code with the help of technology, using a software programme they found on the dark web.
— Albert Batlayeri? (@AlbertBatlayeri) September 9, 2017
Centre director Daniele Abate spoke to The Times, where they explained the process behind translating the letter that left so many people wondering.
We heard about the software, which we believe is used by intelligence services for codebreaking.
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 devilish.
Part of the letter written by the possessed nun said:
The Holy Trinity as being dead weights thinks can free mortals, while encouraging Holy Trinity to abandon humans.
Referring to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in ‘The Holy Trinity’ as ‘dead weights’ suggests that the writing does protest faith in God – something the devil theoretically would be in favour of.
It continues on to say that God was invented by humans, stating ‘this system works for no one’.
The strange alphabet also forms a reference to the River Styx, the river which, in Greek mythology, separates the living from the underworld.
Perhaps now, Styx is certain.
While the topic of the letter could be believed as the work of the devil, Daniele believes Sister Maria’s writings could have been reflective of mental health problems rather than demonic possession.
When working on historical decryption, you cannot ignore the psychological profile of the writer. We needed to know as much as possible about this nun
[She] may have suffered from a condition like schizophrenia, which made her imagine dialogues with the Devil.
That has not stopped numerous interested Satanic sects contacting me since I published our findings.
The nun is thought to have had a lot of knowledge in the field of languages, which Daniele believes would have aided her in creating the code used in the letter.
Whether it really was a letter from the devil we’ll probably never know, but the page and its strange inscriptions have kept people curious for generations.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.