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17th century mystery of ‘possessed’ nun’s letter solved

Supposedly written by the devil and then signed by the ‘possessed’nun, the letter from 1676 consists of 14 lines full of symbols and letters.

A cryptic letter ‘written by the devil’ that has baffled researchers and believers since the 17th-century has finally been deciphered.

According to historical records, on August 11, 1676, sisters from the convent of Palma di Montechiaro in Sicily entered Sr Maria Crocifissa della Concezione’s cell to find her on the floor, face covered in ink, clutching a letter full of mysterious symbols and letters. 

Now, 350 years since the incident, a group of researchers led by Daniele Abate, the director of LUDUM – Science Center Catania, has finally cracked the code. 

Speaking to the media, he explained how during the years working on this enigma, they came to realise that the letter was actually a mix of symbols and letters from ancient alphabets, including from the Greek, Runic, Arabic, and Latin. It also appeared to be written in shorthand. 

Using computer software, their hypothesis was confirmed and they actually managed to decipher the whole letter, which is more than they had originally hoped possible.

The letter itself is, unsurprisingly, quite strange. It refers to the Holy Trinity as ‘dead weights’, addings that ‘God thinks He can free mortals […] but the system works for no one… Perhaps now, Styx is certain.’ Styx refers to the river that separates the living from the dead in Greek and Roman mythology. 

While the text itself was dumbfounding to anyone who tried to read it until now, there was one word that had always been clear, and that was in the place where the 31-year-old nun’s supposed signature had been. As she had later revealed, the devil had written the letter himself before forcing her to sign it. She, however, tricked him by writing ‘Ohimé’ instead, which translates to ‘Oh me”

The nun, who had joined the convent at just 15 years old, was later repaid for her bravery by being ‘blessed’, although reports from the time indicate that she may have suffered from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. 

In fact, the researchers, as well as numerous historians, believe that the nun may have created her own alphabet using letters and symbols from languages she knew and wrote the letter herself.

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