An enigmatic letter written by a nun who claimed to be possessed by Satan has been deciphered by scientists using powerful software. The contents of the letter were indeed “devilish”.
The mysterious message was penned in 1676 by Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione, a nun living in the convent of Palma di Montechiaro in Sicily. Born Isabella Tomasi, Sister Maria entered the convent at only 15 years old.
At age 31, the nun went through a bizarre episode.
On Aug. 11, 1676, she was found on the floor of her cell, her face covered in ink, holding a note written in an incomprehensible mix of symbols and letters, according to historical records. Sister Maria apparently said the letter was written by the devil in an attempt to get her to turn away from God and toward evil, historical accounts suggest.
– Live Science, Satan’s Enigma: ‘Possessed’ Nun’s 17th-Century Letter Deciphered
What did this enigmatic letter say? While it was on display at the convent for visitors to see since the 17th century, nobody ever broke the code. Until now.
Scientists at the Ludum science museum of Sicily, with the help of intelligence-grade code-breaking software found in the deep web, found the missing key.
Daniel Abate, the director of the center described the process.
‘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 de-scramble some of the letter and show that it really is devilish”.
Indeed, the letter describes God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as ‘dead weights’, adding that ‘God thinks he can free mortals’. It also says that God was invented by man and that ‘this system works for no one’. Another sentence reads: ‘Perhaps now, Styx is certain’. In Greek mythology, Styx is a deity and a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld.
While the message is indeed devilish, Abate believes that the letter was the product of a schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
“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.
However, the historical account of the Church differs greatly. According to an account written by Abbess Maria Serafica, the letter was considered by the Church to be the result of Sister Maria’s struggle with “innumerable evil spirits”. Serafica also noted that, despite being ordered by the devil, Sister Maria refused to sign the letter.
According to Serafica’s account of the nun’s behavior written shortly after the incident, the devil would have forced Sister Maria (who was later blessed) to sign the letter. She heroically opposed the demand by writing, “Ohimé” (oh me), which is the only comprehensible word in the letter, Serafica wrote.
Sometimes, solving a mystery only adds to a wider mystery.