The Spookiest Ghost Stories And Legends From The Vatican
The Vatican houses some of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the world, filled with priceless artifacts tied to deeply held beliefs. But its echoing corridors and high vaulted ceilings may house more than just history: perhaps restless spirits linger here, too.
Is the Vatican haunted? It's impossible to say for certain. There are whispers of Vatican ghost stories, though the city-state's officials seem vigilant about keeping those under wraps. Perhaps ghost stories from the Vatican are carefully covered up because any association with the occult is a serious sin. So, even though spooky tales from the Vatican are common, the Church isn't talking about it.
Thankfully, thanks to the rise of smartphones, tourists have begun documenting their own brushes with the paranormal in Italy. Whether you believe their stories or not, these supposed spirits of the Vatican seem to be making their presence known.
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Demon Spirits Lurk In The Holy Vatican SitesPhoto: Andreas Tille / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
The Catholic church sanctions exorcisms from time to time, and perhaps no one became more closely associated with the rite than the late Father Gabriele Amorth. The exorcism expert firmly believed that demons are in the world, even in the holiest of places.
"The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences," he said. Amorth claims that Satan can shapeshift, speak in many languages, or "even appear to be sympathetic."
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A Shadowy Apparition Haunts A Bell TowerVideo: YouTube
This chilling clip was captured by a person waiting to enter St. Peter's Basilica. Everything seemed to be normal - but then a shadowy figure appeared in the footage, standing in a bell tower. Some viewers thought it might be the restless spirit of someone who committed suicide, as the figure appears poised to jump.
No explanation for the creepy apparition has been provided by the Vatican.
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The Basilica Stands On Haunted GroundPhoto: valyag / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
According to some sources, St. Peter's Basilica stands upon cursed soil. It was erected on top of a pagan necropolis, or burial ground. The old spirits and gods didn't take kindly to the intrusion, and strange activity filled the 16th century construction site. Workers began dropping dead, and the Pope himself became ill.
Worse still, apparitions in the form of crows lingered around the area until the Pope ordered an exorcism.
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A Mysterious Light Appears Around Pope John Paul II's TombVideo: YouTube
Odd stories began circulating when Pope Benedict XVI stepped down in 2013. Immediately following Benedict's resignation announcement, Vatican City was struck by a bolt of lightning.
Not long after, an American Roman Catholic man was viewing the Vatican's webcam page featuring the tomb of Pope John Paul II. Suddenly, the screen showed a bright light overwhelming the entire room where the tomb is located. The light then formed a human figure that stood before the tomb. It moved a bit, then vanished.
The stunned viewer thought the light was the spirit of Pope John Paul II.
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An Eerie Figure Floats Above Worshipers Inside St. Peter's Basilica
When British tourists Andy and Susan Key visited St. Peter's Basilica in 2007, they had an eerie brush with the unknown. The couple were admiring sunbeams shining down through a window high in the dome and snapped a picture. But when they viewed the photos later, they spotted an ethereal apparition:
"It looks like an angel hovering on the people's heads... It looks almost like a hologram. I thought it was really spooky."
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The Ghost Of Donna Olimpia Pamphili Reenacts Her Crime Each YearPhoto: Livioandronico2013 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
The ghost of Italian noblewoman Donna Olimpia Pamphili is supposedly seen at least once a year near the Vatican. Though she was of a noble family, she was obsessed with raising her station in life even higher. Her second husband was brother to the then sitting Pope Innocent X. The lady wormed her way into the Pope's good graces, and became his closest confidant. The two were so close that if you wanted anything from the pontiff, you'd have to go through Donna Olimpia first.
Pamphili's newfound status gained her newfound enemies. Seeking a way out, she secretly filled chests with Vatican gold, placed them in her black carriage, and drove away. She didn't have long to enjoy her ill-gotten riches, as she died of plague two years later. But every January 7 (the anniversary of Pope Innocent X's death), Donna Olimpia's ghost flees across the Sisto Bridge in her carriage.