Isabella Tomasi was born in 1645. She was just 15-years-old when she joined a Benedictine convent in Palma di Montechario, Sicily. It was then that she was baptized and renamed Maria Crocifissa Della Concezione. The Benedictine order often teaches things like work, peace, and prayer. As devoted as Sister Maria was, she was not at peace. She told the others that the Devil possessed her.
Sister Maria was sure that the Devil existed because she was often tormented. When she went to the convent alter, she would shriek and lose consciousness. She was convinced that Satan was trying to turn her toward evil. Everyone believed that she was racked with inner conflict.
In 1676, Sister Maria claimed that the Devil took over her body. While claiming to be possessed, she wrote a letter that she says was the Devil’s writings. The note didn’t use a language that was familiar to anyone. She didn’t even use a recognizable alphabet. Instead, she used mysterious glyphs that appeared to be just a jumble of archaic letters and occult symbols. Nobody knew what to think.
Not the First Time
According to reports, this wasn’t the first time that Satan had called at the convent. In 1632, before Sister Maria claimed to have been possessed, a devastating plague was killing many people. A group of 17 nuns sealed themselves off in the Ursuline convent in London, France. They realized that they needed to remain healthy to save those who survived when the plague ran its course. While they were sealed away, they began to act irrationally. Many of the nuns started having visions. Next, they were beginning doing bizarre things. They were shouting at nothing, and some were barking like dogs. Their behavior drew attention to the convent, and people were seeing what they were doing. The controversy started swirling in London, and the chaplain at the convent believed that Satan possessed them. The church authorities decided to launch an investigation.
The investigation concluded that a local holy man, Father Urbain Grandier, was the person responsible for what was happening in the convent. He was believed to have been a dangerous sorcerer who signed a contract with Lucifer, who cast dark spells and conjured the wicked spirits that possessed the nuns. There was a trial in 1634, and the cleric was found guilty.
When Grandier was found guilty, he was sentenced. The church authorities said, “W have ordered, Urbain Grandier duly tried and convicted the crimes of magic, maleficia, and of causing demoniacal possession of several Ursuline nuns. He is to be taken to the public square and fastened to a stake on a scaffold, and then burned alive. His ashes are to be scattered in the wind.” It was reported that Grandier did nothing to stop the reports of possession.
Sister Maria’s Letter
When the nuns saw the letter written by Sister Maria, they took her claims seriously. They took the letter and put it on public display. For centuries, code-breakers were trying to crack the code that was said to be the language of Satan. In wasn’t until 2017 that someone broke it. In 1676 a possessed nun wrote a message from the Devil. Now the chilling letter has been translated.
LUDUM Science Center
A team of computer scientists at the LUDUM Science Center in Catania broke the code in 2017. The team went to some pretty dark places to try to decode the note. To decode the note, they used a highly controlled decryption program. It is used by governments, and it isn’t widely available. The team had to get it from the dark web. The scientists believed that Sister Maria had created the code using a blend of existing alphabets. Thanks to her years of religious service, she was skilled in ancient and modern languages.
The team managed to crack 15 lines of the code. Most of it was muddled and incoherent. What they could make sense of would have gotten Sister Maria into serious trouble. They believed that she was either a secret rebel, a hoaxer, or that her mind had split from reality.
In the parts that they could decipher, Sister Maria claimed that God is an invention of man and that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are all dead weights. God thinks that he can free mortals, but the system works for no one. She also referenced a mythological river that lies at the edge of the underworld.
Nobody knows precisely what caused Sister Maria to pen the note. Everyone had their own theory, but in the end, the team of scientists didn’t believe that Satan actually wrote it.