1634, France: A group of nuns contact 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 was given the title of parish priest — now to be known as Father Urbain — 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 most gross 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 when it was released on VHS in the '80s the cover was so controversial, it was banned from release in Britain by the stiffly upper-lipped government – and that says a lot if you take a look at the horror movie covers of the era.
Now then: To the macabre case of the Loudun nuns we go!
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 with Mother Superior Jeanne des Agnes, who claimed she was being visited in the night my a man of the cloth. Shortly after, other nuns in the cloister 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 assault 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 monied cad who ruffled very few feathers. So well-regarded was he that even a rumor claiming that — among the young, affluent ladies he’d frolicked with — he had fathered an illegitimate child with a daughter of a high-standing politician. No matter; he was still beloved and, albeit for a few of the more pious among the fray, welcome in the town.
So welcome was he that Mother Superior Jeannes des Agnes offered him a position at the nunnery when the current Ursaline director, Canon Moussant, passed away. Already busy with his duties in town, Father Urbain politely declined the offer, citing that he was unworthy of the position.
This did not sit well with the ladies — especially one in particular.
Mother Superior Jeanne Des Anges Was Obsessed With Father Urbain
Jeanne isn’t depicted as the perfect nun in the pop-culture retellings of the Loudun possessions - there's a reason for that, and we'll get to it. In the meantime, let’s just say that if she hung up her habit and got married, her wedding dress wouldn’t be white.
At any rate, Mother Superior was a nun who was juuuuust a little too excited to bring Father Urbain around. When he curved her invitation, he’d soon begin to know the scorn of a (mostly) inexperienced and obsessive woman.
Mother Superior “Burned” With Desire For The Handsome Parish-Priest
Rhetorically asking, does this sound like a healthy attraction from one nun to a priest?
“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.”
This is taken from her autobiography, which also says she burned in this way for five long years. That’s a lot of pent-up heat. Too much, as it was later discovered.