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Trial of Urbain Grandier

Many people have heard of the Salem Witch Trials and the Spanish Inquisition, where priests persecuted innocent people in the name of finding heresy or witchcraft. These have served as warnings against blind zealotry and paranoia by how those in power.

Often, we imagine the victims were the innocent and lower classes who could not speak out and defend themselves. For the most part, that was the case, but in some situations, the Church was even willing to go after its own, such as in the story of Urbain Grandier.

Urbain was a Jesuit priest who lived from the late 1500s to the early 1600s. His uncle was a powerful Jesuit priest, so Urbain decided to follow in his footsteps, eventually serving as the canon for the collegiate Church of Sainte Croix and later in Loudun. With this position, he could support his widowed mother and his siblings.

However, a priest getting two respected offices at such a young age caused resentment from other church members. Not helping was Urbain’s reputation for promiscuity as he was rumored to have fathered several illegitimate children, including the daughter of the king’s prosecutor.

The real trouble began in 1632 when several nuns from the local convent accused Urbain of having used sorcery to be with them and sent a demon to force the women to commit evil acts. The rumor was that the Mother Superior, Jeanne des Anges, had become infatuated with him and wished for him to become the convent’s spiritual director. When he refused, she grew resentful.

Instead, Jeanne began to conspire with one of Urbain’s enemies, Jean Mignon. They accused Urbain of seducing the Mother Superior using black magic and soon other nuns began to make similar accusations.

Urbain was arrested for these accusations and imprisoned in Angers to await trial. An investigation was conducted and several of his enemies took the opportunity to slander him. They brought up previous issues such as Urbain’s criticism of celibacy or his refusal to dismantle the walls of Loudun upon the king’s orders.

The accusations grew until they escalated to Urbain conspiring with demons to summon them. Under torture, Urbain was forced to confess and was sentenced to burn at the stake on August 18, 1634.

The supposed letter that detailed this diabolical deal still exists and says.

“We, the influential Lucifer, the young Satan, Beelzebub, Leviathan, Elimi,
and Astaroth, together with others, have today accepted the covenant pact
of Urbain Grandier, who is ours. And him do we promise
the love of women, the flower of virgins, the respect of monarchs, honours, lusts and powers.
He will go whoring three days long; the carousal will be dear to him. He offers us once
in the year a seal of blood, under the feet, he will trample the holy things of the church and
he will ask us many questions; with this pact, he will live twenty years happy
on the earth of men, and will later join us to sin against God.
Bound in Hell, in the council of demons.
Lucifer Beelzebub Satan
Astaroth Leviathan Elimi
The seals placed the Devil, the master, and the demons, princes of the lord.”

– Baalberith, writer (allgedly).

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