1632, France: a group of nuns contacts a local head of the Catholic Church, claiming to be possessed by a number of demons. These demons are causing the women to behave lustfully and have lurid dreams that cause them to cry out in the night. They claim that the demonic possessions only commenced when a Mr. Urbain Grandier - now to be known as Father Urbain - was given the title of parish priest for a local church. He was said to have summoned the demons using black magic and sorcery to send the foul beings to the nunnery.
Back in a time when accusations like these were taken very seriously and punished using brutal, horrifying measures, Father Urbain was staring his own mortality in the face. But before we examine exactly what transpired, there is a bit of interesting trivia to note: the story of the Loudun nuns is easily one of the grossest and perverse tales to ever come out of a nunnery, so it's no surprise director Ken Russell decided to turn the story into a film in the 1970s, adapting a novel on the events by Aldous Huxley. The film was just as disturbing and extreme as you could possibly imagine, and it was banned in several countries following its release.
Now on to the macabre case of the Loudun possessions.
A Convent In France Was Suddenly Overtaken By Lewd And Lustful Nuns
It was a great mystery, but perhaps an even bigger scandal, when the once-pious nuns of a convent in Loudun, France, began acting in a way most unbecoming to those sworn into celibacy. Per ecclesiastical records, it commenced in 1632, with the prioress of the Ursuline convent, Jeanne des Anges, who claimed she was being visited in the night by an apparition of a man of the cloth. Shortly after, other nuns in spoke up, claiming much the same: during the night, a man of the cloth would ask for their help.
From there began a series of bewitching events for the nuns: they heard voices, experienced physical accosted from invisible sources, and found themselves overcome with fits of uncontainable laughter. It didn't take long to progress into the more lascivious events for which the Loudun nuns became notorious.
The Exploits Began When A Handsome Priest Rejected A Position Within The Nunnery
Father Urbain Grandier was a parish priest in the town. Although he was known for womanizing, Father Urbain was a well-educated, well-respected, good-looking, and moneyed cad who ruffled very few feathers. He was beloved and, albeit for a few of the more pious among the fray, welcomed in the town.
So welcome was he that Mother Superior Jeanne des Anges offered him a position at the nunnery when the current Ursuline director, Father Moussaut, passed. Already busy with his duties in town, Father Urbain politely declined the offer. This did not sit well with the ladies - especially one in particular.
Mother Superior 'Burned' With Desire For The Handsome Parish Priest
Jeanne was reportedly obsessed with Father Urbain. As she wrote in her autobiography: "When I did not see [Father Urbain], I burned with love for him and when he presented himself to me... I lacked the faith to combat the impure thoughts and movements that I felt."
The Mother Superior Was A Real-Life Hunchback
It's rather sad, but according to her autobiography, she contracted tuberculosis when she was young, which stunted her growth and left her hunchbacked. She was apparently bitter, defensive, and cruel. This could've also contributed to why the notoriously handsome (and most certainly vain) Father Urbain, who preferred young ladies of high stature, gave her the "thanks, but no thanks."
In his stead, Canon Mignon was appointed - and he hated Father Urbain with a passion.