Archive for January, 2012


The Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, author of "Quo Vadis?"

In July 1901, the families on holiday at Biarritz could see, each day around noon, an elegant gentleman in his fifties strolling among the bathing cabins.  His gaze was deep, his little beard tidy, and he seemed melancholy, evidently coming from northern Europe.  The ladies considered him with insistent curiosity from underneath their sunshades.  Not that they had any dishonest or matrimonial designs on him, but because they were fascinated by him.  There he was, in front of their eyes, within touching distance even, the famous Polish fiction writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, the author of Quo Vadis?, a book of fiction which had been translated into 22 languages!  The French adaptation, published a year earlier, in June 1900, had already arrived at 100,000 copies printed, an extraordinary figure for the epoch.

The prestige enjoyed by the writer was so great that none of his fervent female admirers would have had the audacity to go up to speak to him, even to stammer the most insipid compliment.

However, that which the French ladies, to their great regret, did not have the courage to do, an English lady dared.  She was a charming young, blonde girl with myosotis eyes.  One evening, in the hallway of the hotel where he was staying, she went up to him and told him that she had read Quo Vadis? and had been extremely moved by it.

Sienkiewicz, delighted and rather troubled, invited her to drink a cup of tea.  They saw each other again the next day, then all the days that followed, and took the habit of walking together.

One morning, the writer says to the young lady:

“I am not in the habit of attaching any importance to dreams, but last night I had a strange dream which has left me with an uncomfortable impression I would like to get rid of…  I was in the street where there was a hearse, behind which there was a young, blond man with very light eyes, dressed in a blue suit with metal buttons.  I can still see him very distinctly…”

“Did he speak to you?”

“No.  He smiled at me while looking fixedly at me and inviting me to enter this hearse…  I awoke very oppressed…”

The young English girl was interested in the metapsychical sciences.  She even sometimes, when in London, went to listen to the conferences made by members of the Society for Psychical Research.  She advised the writer to write down his dream without leaving out the slightest detail.  She told him that it perhaps had a meaning that he would one day discover.

Sienkiewicz having related his dream to a young English girl, everyone was talking about it for a few days on the Biarritz beach.

Docilely, Sienkiewicz follows his friend’s advice.  The following morning, when they meet again on the beach, the young lady notices that the writer appears preoccupied.  She questions him.

“You are not going to believe me, but I had the same dream again last night.  The young man that I described to you, dressed identically, was inviting me smilingly to enter a hearse.  I was backing away, but he was advancing towards me and holding out his hand to grip me…  It was horrible!  I awoke dripping with perspiration.  Do you think that this is announcing that I am in danger?”

The young girl reassures him, saying that it is very difficult to know when a dream is premonitory, and that the specialists were incapable of giving an opinion on it.  Then they talked about other things.

But, on the following morning, when the little English girl left her hotel, she found Sienkiewicz even more depressed than the day before.

“What has happened to you?  Don’t tell me that you had the same dream again?”

“Yes!  Exactly the same!  It’s terrible and this hearse is haunting me.  I know that I am going to think about it all day, just like yesterday and the day before.”

The little English girl takes his arm.

“Today, I won’t leave you.  This morning, we shall go for a walk, at noon, you will invite me to luncheon, this afternoon, we shall go for a walk on the Beach of the Basques, and this evening, we shall dine together…”

At midnight, when they separate, Sienkiewicz is smiling.

“Thank you!  I believe that I won’t have a nightmare tonight…”

The next morning, at eight o’clock, the young girl is in front of the writer’s hotel door, looking a bit anxious.

“Well?”

“Finished!  I dreamed of you!…”

Sienkiewicz remains for a while at Biarritz without his strange dream coming back to torment him.  Then one evening, he tenderly says goodbye to the little English girl and takes the train for Paris where a theatrical adaptation of Quo Vadis? is being prepared.

The hotel in Rue de Rivoli in Paris where the accident took place.

There, he settles into a hotel on the Rue de Rivoli.  Around noon, he wants to lunch, so he leaves his room and goes towards the lift.  The cabin is just at his floor and the lift-boy is holding the grille open.  Sienkiewicz stops, horrified.  The boy, a blond adolescent with light eyes who is looking at him fixedly while inviting him to enter the lift is the person that he had seen in his dream.  The same blue suit, the same metal buttons, the same gesture with his hand…

Terrified, the writer turns around and rushes to the staircase, which he descends, running.  Having arrived at the ground floor, he enters the reading room and lets himself fall into an armchair.

He is scarcely seated than he hears a most frightful noise, which is so terrifying that he loses consciousness.  When he regains it, people are running in the hallway and an employee tells him that the lift has just crashed to the ground.

He rises, pushes his way through the crowd and sees bodies stretched out on the rug.  In the midst of them, he immediately recognizes the blond lift-boy in the blue suit decorated with metal buttons…

***

This story is known to us by Henryk Sienkiewicz himself who wrote down all the details, and by Anton Niedermeier who published it in his Souvenirs.

***

This is not a premonitory dream, but rather a warning dream.  In a purely premonitory dream, Sienkiewicz would have seen the lift crash to the floor and the cadavers in the hallway of the hotel.  Here, there is nothing like that.  He only sees a symbol of death:  the hearse.  But on the other hand, the young, blond man, with his characteristic blue suit, is of photographic precision, so as to be recognized in real life.  His role is to alarm the subject to prevent him from being a victim of the mortal accident.  And so that Sienkiewicz does not forget his face, or his aspect, the dream occurs three times.

***

Two specialists, Steven and Monfang say:

“Our dreams explore, practically every night, dimensions of the Universe which the science elaborated by vigilant thought has not yet attained…  Beyond the dream itself, begins a new world of thought so far out of our everyday experience that those to whom it is familiar, find no words to describe it to us…”

***

We have no idea how our minds transform events into symbols.

***

Serious researchers have today abandoned Freud’s puerile and delirious symbolism where an umbrella was considered to be a phallic symbol “because of its possibilities of development”, and a railway station a sexual symbol, on the pretext “that trains go in and out of it”

***

In France, England, Germany, the United States of America and the former USSR, biologists are studying our brain in an attempt to discover the secrets of our oniric activity, to decode the symbols which people our dreams and to find out in what measure we could cease to be simple spectators…  For perhaps one day, we shall know how to direct our dreams toward a precise point in the future to learn what will happen to us…

***

In the XVIIIth Century, it was believed that a woman sleeping naked on her bed could be fecunded by the South-West zephyr.

The whole History of procreation seems to have been marked by great misogyny.  Over two or three centuries, a completely specialized literature develops it, inspired at the same time by Scripture, scientific observation and philosophy.  Speaking of Woman, eminent Sorbonnards affirm:

“The humidity of her constitution renders her inapt for tasks which demand character”,

and,

“on top of which, one is not totally sure that she has a soul”…

It is for this reason that, out of prudence, the first human dissections are practised on women.

In 1595, an opuscule in Latin by the German philosopher Acidalius proclaims:

“Mulieres non esse homines”;  women are not part of humankind…

***

It is therefore understandable that parents are not ecstatic about the birth of a little girl…

In the XVIIIth Century, it was starting to be said that women carried eggs from which children were born.

From the IVth Century before the present era, since Aristotle, the woman is only the receptacle of the embryo deposited by the man.  She is a reproduction tool accorded to the man to relieve him of the burden of having to nourish this embryo and give birth to it.

This is why L’art de procreer des males, a book by Morel de Rubempre, still has, in 1824, great success and numerous re-editions.  It essentially takes up the elucubrations of Millot in 1802, of which the following is a sample:

“The husband must always lie on the woman’s left.  At the moment of the ejaculation, he must quickly pass his left hand under his spouse’s right buttock, and lift her up until her hip forms, with the suface on which she is lying, an angle of twenty-five to thirty degrees.  This is not all, things such as the height of the bed, the position of the husband, whether he is standing, and the wife lying down, for example, must be taken into account.  If he is himself lying down, he has to modify the firing angle of the “cannon of life” in function of the width of the opening of his spouse’s hips and the depth of the dent that they make in the mattress.”

The great Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, in his Histoire des anomalies, recounts seriously, in 1832, that sentiments can have a strong influence on the child before its birth.  For example, a little girl is born in Year III of the French Republic with, on her left breast, the mark of a Phrygian bonnet.  The Directoire also rewarded with a pension of four hundred francs a mother so patriotic as to have given birth to a female child bearing on her buttock a patriotic brevet and a revolutionary emblem.

The first serious refutations of the role of the imagination or fears, or of “cravings”, only go back to the middle of the XIXth Century.  In English maternities, pregnant women are then asked what has impressed their minds during their pregnancy and it is perceived that:

(1) – children are born without anomalies;

(2) – that if there are any anomalies, it is only after the birth that the mothers find any explanations.

However, these fears of another age still last today.  In 1971, a report on pregnancy and birth, established by Marie-Therese Miehe (collection “Diagnostics”) notes the following questions asked by young women:

“I saw a black man and I had a shock.  Will my child be born black?”

“I listened to a lot of music for nine months.  Will my child be a musician?”

“Do unsatisfied cravings cause malformations?”

We are far from having left the age of magic.

***

A few years later in this XVIIth Century, thanks to the microscope which is a recent invention, a young German doctor, Louis de Ham, discovers that a drop of sperm was in fact

“an ocean where an innumerable multitude of little fishes were swimming, in a thousand different directions”.

These little fishes immediately suscitate an infatuation which is even more considerable.  Exactly what are they…  animals?  Probably!  But what sort of animals?  Fishes, tadpoles, toads?  Let us say “animalcules”, decides the scientific world.  But most importantly, it is again the man who is at the origin of life.

So fecundity, which that laughable ovist thesis had attributed to females, is returned to the males, gloats Maupertuis, the great French mathematician.

But are these animalcules miniature humans and do they have sexes?  Of course they do!  It is thought that little male and female fishes can be distinguished.  They are incredibly numerous and the adults have a tail while the little ones do not.  There is a rut season for the spermatozoa, during which they mate.  The female spermatozoa soon give birth…

Their way of life is not very amiable.  They love to fight and if the one who survives is seriously wounded, a monstrous child will be born.

It must also be noted that the little male fishes are to be found in the right bourse, the little female fishes being in the left bourse.  Therefore, in the man, as in the woman, the left testicle – the left ovary in the woman – gives females.  To be sure of having boys, which is infinitely preferable, it is enough, advises Doctor Michel Procope-Couteau, the author of a remarkable Art de faire des garcons, to cut off the left testicle.  But can any volunteers be found?  He suggests:

“To prove that this essential thesis is correct, let us start by cutting the testicles and the ovaries of people who have been condemned to death and marry these half-eunuchs together.”

This strange doctor does not appear to have found the human material for which he was asking, but his thesis flourishes…

Doctor Tissot found a way of having only boys. The woman had to lean on her left side "when she was working to become a mother"...

People are convinced that, to have a boy, they only have to place themselves on their right side at the moment of their love-making…  But in the end, the idea that Man comes from a tadpole displeases just as fast as the one that situates his origin in an egg.

Abbot Spallanzani, the great Italian biologist, Pasteur’s precursor, who died at the dawn of the XIXth Century, is the last to say anything good about spermatozoa.

Creatures endowed for him with a “supreme wisdom”, an “adorable wisdom”, they are only, for the Swiss physiologist Haller, the author of two hundred works on these questions, “insects” who are born in a not very nice environment, “faecal”, he says.  Soon, they are called “parasites”, vulgar “cercaried gymnodes” and the immense Cuvier himself reduces them, in 1841, to the rank of “microzoa”

From the beginning of the XVIIIth Century, there is a forceful return of the egg vogue…

But then these spermatozoa must be only “parasites”.

In the heart of the XIXth Century, two theses are going to sweep away all of the others, those of chemical generation and of electrical generation.

Tinchant demonstrates in four hundred tight pages that it is the man who “breathes in the principle of life contained in the air”, distills it in his blood and transforms it into sperm, “germ of life par excellence”.  The woman only “condenses” it, supplying it with hydrogen and carbon which form the membranes and the waters…  Long live the warrior once more, and too bad for the vivandiere!…

Burdach is scarcely more collected in demonstrating that the sexual act is of an electrical essence.

He explains that the electric contact which runs through the body when two people join, provokes an electrical commotion, and an “electrical conflict manifests itself in the power of the gaze of the two beings, enchained by the ties of love”

So, Victor Hugo’s contemporaries are delighted to learn that it is the electricity fairy who, by slipping “between the spinal cords of the man and the woman”, communicates to the organs of generation what is necessary to assure, with ecstasy, the survival of the species…

And Man would only begin to understand the true nature of fecundation less than one hundred and fifty years ago with Van Beneden’s fundamental discoveries.

We have only left the magical, crazy or baroque ideas on human procreation for this short space of time.

Less than one and a half centuries, against two or three  thousand years of phantasmagoria.  Food for thought, no?…

***

To be continued.

Hippocrates thought that the foetus was the result of the mixture of masculine and feminine semen which came from the brain.

As unbelievable as it seems, Humanity imagined up until the middle of the XVIIth Century that children were made either according to Aristotle’s description, or that of Hippocrates.

For the greatest doctor of Antiquity, the foetus is quite simply the result of a mixture of male and female semen.  The female, like the male, distills a semen which comes from all parts of her body, but most particularly from the brain.  According to Hippocrates, this explains the delicious sensations that are felt in all of the organs during copulation.

Unlike Hippocrates, the phallocratic Aristotle considers that the liqueur dispensed by the woman during copulation is deprived of any essence of life.  The role of the woman in the penetration is therefore reduced to supplying menstrual blood which, in coagulating, will serve as food for the foetus, while her abdomen will supply a lodging for the embryo placed there by the man.  That she is only “assuring shelter and food”  for the little human, as Pierre Darmon puts it.

Rene Descartes wrote a Traite de l’Homme et de la Formation de Foetus that is a model of obscurantism.  He takes literally the ideas emitted just two thousand years before him.  He writes:

“The foetus is, at the origin, only a confused mixture of two liqueurs that heat and dilate each other, by this means disposing themselves to form members, beginning by making a heart by boiling [bouillonnement].”

This French rationalist also thinks that, in any case, it is the man who contains the foetus, and the role of the woman is totally secondary.  A bit like a vivandiere when the army of males has won the battle…

The germ, however, takes its own life from the ether, from the spirit or spirits that float in the air…  And this is why the imagination of pregnant women, connected to the floating spirits, is able to transform the child that they are carrying…

In the heart of the XVIIIth Century, the Century of Light, right on the eve of the French Revolution, appears a treatise by Benjamin Bablot on the power of the imagination of pregnant women.  Like a lot of other doctors, Bablot upholds that if a pregnant woman touches a cat, a mouse or a weasel, she must very quickly wipe her hand to avoid the foetus taking on the form of the animal in question.

Swammerdam, although a naturalist and a physiologist of great talent, recounts with unperturbable seriousness that, around 1660, a pregnant woman was frightened by the sight of a “nigger”.  She rushed to her bathroom to wash herself with very hot water and, thanks to this wise precaution, the child was born white.  Alas!…  the creases in its hands and feet, that the water had not been able to reach, were all black…

In the XVIIIth Century, it was starting to be said that women carried eggs from which children were born.

It is only at the end of the XVIIth Century that the great anatomist Reinier de Graaf emits the hypothesis that women could well carry their own semen in the form of eggs.  In his Nouveau Traite des organes genitaux de la femme, he formulates, to the great scandal of one part of his contemporaries, the following daring hypothesis:

“I claim that all animals, and even Man, originate in an egg, not an egg formed in the matrix by the semen, in Aristotle thinking, or by seminal virtue, following Harvey, but from an egg which exists before the copulation in the testicles of the females.”

So women carry eggs…  They are like hens?…  Voltaire, who remains dry on the mysteries of generation, resorts to irony, that is to say, however he can.

“Woman is only a white hen in Europe, and a black hen in Africa!…”

Already marked by the disrepect of the new ideas, the ovist thesis had been raising reserves of a totally different order, a few years before.

“It’s contrary to the Scriptures”,

the whole of the world of believers had then protested.

Doctor Pierre Roussel, who is on the side of the Hippocrates thesis, finds that ovism offends the dignity of women, and the theologians chime in to say that if ever anyone discovers eggs in his wife’s ovaries, it could only be the result of a prodigy of Satan.

Eggs?  This is badly digested food, says a scholar of this epoch, while another estimes that this thesis is too favourable to women, which is totally insupportable.  Others, on the other hand, are enthusiastic about the egg thesis.  A Brest doctor swears in 1684 that he has just seen a woman who is seven months pregnant give birth to a big serving dish of eggs.

“I saw some too”,

affirms Doctor de Houppeville in a brochure that appears in Rouen at the same epoch.

“But it’s the devil to get them out without breaking them…  particularly with virgins!…”

***

To be continued.

In the XVIIIth Century, it was believed that a woman sleeping naked on her bed could be fecunded by the South-West zephyr "charged with floating embryos".

The way in which, throughout the centuries, humans have imagined that they are engendered is a passionate subject.  A young History professor, Monsieur Pierre Darmon, wrote a History of it in which procreation appears as the most prolific of mysteries, a sort of immense, baroque tapistery, around the edges of which the imagination of theologians, jurists, philosophers and doctors has enormously embroidered.

Does sleep favourise the birth of male children?  Yes.

Does the foetus resemble the mother more than the father?  Of course.

The more lascive a woman is, the more fecund she is?  Oh dear no.

Are short women more fecund than tall ones?  Definitely.

Are women whose matrice is cold fecund?  Of course not.

Are women who give birth to a boy more fecund?  Assuredly.

These are very serious subjects of thesis, defended before the very venerable Faculte de medecine de Paris up until the time when, around 1770, Lavoisier gives the first foundations of modern chemistry…

In the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries, it was believed that women who gave birth to monstrous children had been fecunded by a witch.

In the XVth Century, the monks Sprenger and Institutor write the first big treatise on demonology, Le Marteau des Sorcieres.  For two centuries, this guide – red with the blood of thousands of victims – will inflame all parts of Europe, in the hands of Inquisitors and Judges who have blind confidence in it.

During witchcraft [sorcery] trials, sexuality and generation always play a determining role.  One discovers there, in a tragic light, the idea that humanity has had, over the ages, of the role of the sexes and of procreation.

Mandated by the Pope to hunt witches [female sorcerers], Sprenger and Institutor assure that these women are capable of detaching by a spell [enchantment] the fascinus (the “object which fascinates”) of these gentlemen and of taking them away.  The witches place these little animals – these little sparrows? – endowed with their own lives, inside a nest.  The XVth Century text says:

“There, they wriggle and feed themselves with seeds, as several people have recounted.”

And our two grave demonologists recount the following story which they hold to be absolutely true:

“A man notices that, under the effect of a spell, the most precious of his goods has disappeared.  He addresses himself to a known witch and demands reparation from her by the practising of a graft which she knows how to do.  The witch makes him climb a tree and presents him with her collection.  In a nest, several objects of virility are jumping and dancing.  He chooses one, the most flattering.  The witch who, although diabolic, still has scruples, exclaims:  ‘Above all, not that one, it belongs to the parish curate!…’ “

When a woman gives birth to a monstrous child, for several centuries it was thought that it was because of a magical operation.  Therefore, the person responsible has to be found.  It is always a witch or a wizard who has impregnated the mother with bad germs.  And where do these monster germs come from?  They float in the air.  In any case, it is never the fault of the father…

Up until the middle of the XVIIIth Century, a quantity of scientific treatises can be found which doctorly explain that

“at the origin of all animal life, there are little, invisible beings, already formed, but lifeless, which are waiting to enter into contact with a liqueur which is subtle enough to vivify them”.

A woman can therefore procreate on her own, through enchantment or even simply a dream.

This is why, on 13 January 1637, the Grenoble Parliament declares Magdeleine d’Automont d’Aiguemere innocent of the sin of adultery.  This chaste spouse has just given birth to a boy.  But, her husband has been absent for four years.  However, the judgement underlines that

“having imagined the person and the physical contact of the said Lord d’Aiguemere, her husband, in a dream, she received the same sentiments of conception and of pregnancy that she would have received in his presence”.

The judges refer to Saint Thomas who said that, in the state of innocence, children were made by the intention of thoughts alone.

This judgement is accompanied by a highly scientific declaration:

“One supposes that, on the night of Madame d’Aiguemere’s dream, her window being open, her bed exposed to the West, her blanket in disorder, that the South-West zephyr, duly impregnated with organic molecules of human insects, of floating embryos, had fecunded her.”

***

To be continued.

The Salon visionary – part 2

Louis XIV, who received only very carefully selected people, accorded two long audiences to the Salon blacksmith.

The next day, Francois-Michel presents himself at the Palace of Versailles and asks to speak to the King in private.  They laugh in his face.  On the following days, he comes back again and makes such a fuss that Louis XIV is finally informed.

“Go and tell this man that I don’t receive just anybody!”

Francois-Michel, who believes in his mission and wants to obey good Queen Marie-Therese’s ghost, replies to the King’s message that he will tell him “such secret things and so well-known to him alone” that he will well see that his message comes from God.

Louis XIV again refuses.  The Salon visionary then declares:

“Then send me one of the State Ministers”.

The Sovereign has him taken to Barbezieux;  but Francois-Michel bursts into laughter and answers that they are making fun of him:

“Barbezieux is not a minister, and it is to a minister that I must speak in the King’s absence.”

This declaration astounds everybody.  How can this blacksmith, who has never been interested in anything except his profession and who has come for the first time to Versailles, know that Barbezieux is only a Secretary of State?

The Marquis de Pomponne was the first to receive Francois-Michel at Versailles.

The King is soon intrigued by this provincial who seems to know the Court so well.  He orders the Marquis de Pomponne – who really is a State Minister – to receive him.  On three different occasions, Pomponne has a long interview with Francois-Michel.  After each conversation, he runs to the King with whom he remains locked up for hours.

Rumours then begin to circulate.  It is murmured that the blacksmith is a visionary who claims to have received a visit from the late Queen.  And of course they all snigger.  But one morning, the laughter freezes when it is learnt that Louis XIV has just let Francois-Michel into his private study.

This time, the Court is stunned.  Why would the most powerful sovereign in the world, who pitilessly keeps away from disagreeable and annoying people, accord a private audience to this blacksmith?

After an hour alone with the King, Francois-Michel leaves the royal study and goes back to his inn.  Immediately, everyone rushes to the King.  Doubtless His Majesty will recount some savoury anecdote about this visionary?  Report a few blunders?  Mock him?…  Already the courtiers are chuckling in anticipated pleasure.  But Louis XIV, looking preoccupied, crosses the salon without saying a word.

The following day, at the hour of the royal promenade, Monsieur de Duras, who thinks himself free to say whatever he likes to the King, exclaims:

“This Salon visionary is a madman, or the King is not noble!…”

Louis XIV has heard.  He stops, turns to Monsieur de Duras and answers gravely:

“Well then, Monsieur le Marechal, I am not noble!  For I had a long conversation with this man and I can assure you that he is far from being mad!…”

The Court is not at the end of its surprises.  A few days later, the King again receives Francois-Michel, remains with him for more than an hour, carefully seeing to it that no-one is near enough for them to be overheard, and ceremoniously accompanying him as far as the staircase.

In his youth, Louis XIV had glimpsed a ghost during a hunt in the Fontainebleau forest.

This time, Louis XIV reveals to his entourage that the blacksmith has spoken to him about an event known to him alone.  He adds:

“A ghost that I glimpsed, more than twenty years ago, in the Fontainebleau Forest, and of which I have never spoken to anyone…”

Francois-Michel’s mission is finished.

Before leaving Versailles, where his expenses are reimbursed by the King himself, he is received by Madame de Maintenon, by the Princesse de Savoie and by several courtiers who give him sumptuous gifts.  Finally, he will take leave of the Sovereign, publicly, like an ambassador, leave Versailles on 18 April and return home.

What on Earth did he say to Louis XIV?

It was never known, for neither he nor any of the ministers ever made the slightest revelation on the subject.  But doubtless the message from the Queen’s ghost was important, since the Court, more and more astounded, learned that the King had not only exempted Francois-Michel from taxes and the obligation for lodging the military, but that he had had him given a large sum of money, and that he had given orders to the Intendant de Provence to protect him for the rest of his life…

It was thus proven that one could be received by the King of France by presenting oneself on behalf of a ghost…

***

Madame de Maintenon who, according to Saint-Simon, would have organized the whole business.

Neither the blacksmith nor Louis XIV ever spoke of what was said while they were alone together.  However, there is an hypothesis held by a few historians which is founded on something reported by Saint-Simon:  After Francois-Michel’s visit to Versailles – which was much talked about, as songs were written about him and his portrait was engraved – the whole Court was asking questions.  And finally, one explanation came to the minds of a few people:  the adventure of the Salon visionary had been organized by someone who wanted to impress the King’s mind…  This person would be Madame de Maintenon.

The reason is very simple:  we are in 1697.  At this epoch the Court is agitated by the Quietist quarrel.  Quietism, that mystical doctrine according to which perfection consisted in the annihilation of the will, in short in the quietude of the soul, was preached by a slightly exalted woman called Madame Guyon who was protected by Fenelon;  this Fenelon was himself protected by Mme de Maintenon.  When Bossuet declared that Fenelon was an heretic, Mme de Maintenon found herself compromised at the same time and feared to see herself repudiated by the King…  This is when, knowing Louis XIV’s religiosity was tinted with superstition, she would have thought to make a being from the other world intervene in her favour.  And, as the clever woman that she was, she would have fixed her choice on the ghost of gentle Queen Marie-Therese…

Saint-Simon tells us that Mme de Maintenon would have addressed herself to one of her old friends, a certain Madame Arnoud who was the wife of the Intendant de Marseille, and would have asked her to create the whole scene of the apparition of the ghost…

We cannot always believe Saint-Simon.  However, Guy Breton thinks that this time he might be telling the truth.  For in 1750, an old man from Salon recounted to the author of the Dictionnaire de la Provence that a priest and Mme Arnoud, assisted by a young woman who had played the role of the ghost, had been the authors of this mystification.  This had apparently been told to him by the priest.

***

Francois-Michel would have absolutely believed in the ghost.

***

Still according to Saint-Simon, who situates this story in 1699 by mistake, Louis XIV would have been asked on behalf of Marie-Therese’s ghost, to declare Mme de Maintenon Queen of France, which would have strongly consolidated the situation of the lady formerly known as Widow Scarron.

This plot, according to Saint-Simon, did not work however, because Mme de Maintenon was never Queen of France.  But there is another hypothesis, advanced a few decades ago by some respected historians, like Monsieur Louis Hastier for example:  in 1697, the secret wedding of Louis XIV and Mme de Maintenon – the exact date of which is unknown – would not yet have been celebrated…  And it would have been to force the King to marry her that Mme de Maintenon would have created this ghost story.  In this case, she would have succeeded…

*** 

The Salon visionary

Maria-Theresa of Austria, Queen of France, spouse of Louis XIV.

In 1697, at Salon-de-Provence, there was a young blacksmith named Francois-Michel, who lived happily with his forge, his anvil, his wife and his four children.  Although he was a relation of Nostradamus on his mother’s side, he had never felt himself drawn to either the bizarreries of occultism or to the prestiges of magic.

He was a tall, ordinary fellow, jovial and smiley, who had conserved a resolute allure after his passage in the Grignan Cavalry Regiment.  Very pious, he sometimes went to pray inside a little chapel situated outside the town, on the road to Marseille.

One evening while he was coming back from his devotions, he found himself, according to Saint-Simon who reports this story, “invested by a great light near a tree”.  Very surprised, he stops and suddenly sees a beautiful, blonde woman appear, dressed in white, with a flaming torch in her hand.

The blacksmith is extremely moved:  he is asking himself if this is the Virgin Mary.

No.  After a moment, the apparition speaks in a gentle voice and introduces itself:

“Francois-Michel, I am Queen Marie-Therese…  I was the spouse of King Louis XIV and I died fourteen years ago…”

Francois-Michel, afraid, wants to flee, but the ghost holds him by the shoulders:

“Don’t be afraid, I do not want to hurt you…  I come to announce, in the name of God, that you must go to Versailles to speak to the King.  To prove to him that your mission is of divine origin, you will tell him this which he is the only one to know:  thirty years ago, he was hunting deer one day when he met a supernatural being who made his horse rear and who asked him to renounce his scandalous life…  Now, listen carefully…”

The blacksmith, half-fainting with fear, nods his head.  The ghost continues in a suave voice:

“I am going to give you the message that you must carry to the King.  But be very careful:  you must communicate it to no-one else.  If you disobey, or if you neglect to go through with your mission, you will be punished by death…  Before you, I have addressed myself to three Salon inhabitants.  The first revealed what I had confided to him to his wife.  He died immediately at her feet.  The second who, he too, revealed my secret, is also dead, as well as the third.  A similar fate is reserved for you if you reveal my words to any other but His Majesty…”

Francois-Michel, who had learnt of the mysterious deaths of three inhabitants of the town, his neighbours, in the preceding days, promises to be discrete.

Then, the Queen’s ghost leans over and tells him in a soft voice what he must say to Louis XIV, in the name of the Lord.

In his youth, Louis XIV had glimpsed a ghost during a hunt in the Fontainebleau forest.

Then it disappears and the blacksmith finds himself alone in the night, beside the tree, asking himself if he had dreamt it or if this spectre, whose perfume is still on his jacket, really did appear to him…

After a long moment of reflection, he returns home, persuaded that he had been the plaything of an illusion and decided to speak to no-one about this adventure.

But two days later, as he is passing by the same spot, the spectre appears again to him and tells him the same thing, before adding:

“Careful, Francois-Michel, I know that you have doubts about me…  How can one doubt the word of a dead person?  You know that dead people don’t lie.  Even more so when that person is a Queen of France…”

No-one had ever told the blacksmith that dead people didn’t lie, but it seems to him that it is quite logical, and he is ashamed of his doubts…  Then, he receives the order to go to tell the Intendant de Provence what he had seen.  The Queen’s spectre says to him:

“You will tell him that I have ordered you to go to Versailles, and I am sure that he will give you what you need to pay for your trip…”

This time, Francois-Michel is convinced.  But Saint-Simon tells us “floating between fear of punishments and the difficulties of the execution”, he hesitates to undertake the arrangements.

Another week goes by, during which he tergiverses with himself.  But one evening when he is passing near the chapel, the Queen appears to him again.  She is not smiling:  her eyes are glittering, her voice is hard, her tone is threatening.

A ghost is already very impressive.  An angry ghost is terrifying.  Francois-Michel trembles and swears that he will obey.

In fact, two days later, he goes to Aix to find Le Bret, the Intendant of the province, who receives him privately.  Francois-Michel tells him that he has met the ghost of Queen Marie-Therese, who had died fourteen years before, and that the Queen has ordered him to go to see the King at Versailles, and that Intendant Le Bret would give him the money for the trip.  The Intendant finds this attempt to extort money from him very amusing and rather ingenious, but a bit silly all the same…

“But I swear that it is all true.  I saw this ghost three times near the Saint-Anne Chapel..  Just like I see you, Monsieur…  It spoke to me.  And I have a mission to accomplish with the King…”

Intendant Le Bret is now convinced that he is dealing with an illumine.  Francois-Michel guesses what he is thinking.

“I’m not crazy, Monsieur l’Intendant, make enquiries about me.”

This tall young man of thirty-six with a clear gaze and flourishing health does not in fact appear to be deranged.  Le Bret is perplexed.

“Give me a few days.  I’ll think about it.”

And, very intrigued by this story, he orders an investigation of Francois-Michel from the Lieutenant-general de Salon, the following day.

A report is soon on his desk.  In it can be read that the blacksmith is a highly respected man in his town, with a healthy body and mind, and is known for his good sense.

So, the Intendant convokes Francois-Michel, makes him repeat all the details of the apparition, and finally – as extraordinary as this may seem – gives him the money necessary for the trip.

On the evening of 9 April 1697, Francois-Michel arrives at Versailles and books into an inn.  He is scarcely inside his bedchamber when, suddenly, the ghost that he knows well, thanks him for having obeyed it and gives him a few pieces of friendly advice for succeeding in his mission.  This time, the ghost is charming!  It tells him:

“You will doubtless have a few difficulties in obtaining a private audience;  but beware of discouragement, and above all do not let anyone know of your secret if you don’t want to die instantaneously…”

To be continued.

Rosette Tamisier.

During her last public appearance, the little miracle girl proclaims in a firm voice:

“Rose Tamisier.  I’m thirty-three years old…  Christ’s age…”

She makes the sign of the cross and then sits down facing her judges in the courtroom of the Carpentras Tribunal.

Troubled and distraught after two days of passionate debates, the judges don’t know which saint – or devil – to address to discover the truth.

To everybody’s great discontentment, they declare themselves to be incompetent and the trial is taken to Appeal before the Nimes Court, on the following 6 November.

At Stockport (Great Britain) on 4 May 1947, a seven year old girl placed a crown of roses on this statue of the Virgin Mary. The flowers remained intact and perfumed for more than three years...

The case is rapidly, brutally expedited.  Rose is condemned to the maximum:  six months of prison and a fine of sixteen francs for “offence of affront to the Catholic religion”.

In fact, she will suffer an incarceration of twenty-one months in all, for she refuses to allow those close to her to pay the trial costs which come to the considerable sum of eight hundred and eighty-two francs.

When her ordeal ends, no-one is waiting for her at the prison door.  As if it were feared that, with her release, a decidedly cumbersome God would again manifest himself.

Everyone had hastened to forget her passing glory, but the high clergy will never forgive her for the upheaval she had caused in consciences.  Back in her town of birth, Saignon, to care for her elderly father, Rose thinks only of effacing herself as much as possible, not without hoping to find balm for her wounds in the holy sacraments.

The ecclesiastic authorities refuse categorically.  The Archbishop orders:

“If this girl asks for Holy Communion, she must first confess her culpable juggling.”

Throughout the terrestrial time left for her to live, Rosette Tamisier will remain firm.  She fights desperately and does not stop tearfully begging her Curate to allow her to accede again to the Holy Table, but she will never admit to having lied.

Periodically the Press writes about these extraordinary things. The public is interested for a while, pilgrims go to see them despite the Church's mutism, then it all returns to oblivion.

The Roman Catholic Church remains just as inflexible.  Despite her letters full of humility to the Archbishop and her exemplary life, it remains deaf to her appeals.

As for the past miracles, they too will fall into total oblivion.  Despite the doubts or convictions which will subsist in the minds of a lot of absolutely trustworthy witnesses…

How difficult and dangerous it was under this Second Empire, sanctimonious and bigoted, to be distinguished by the hand of the Lord!…

***

This story seems to be quite unknown.  The works on religion, those that support it and those, also numerous in the XIXth Century, which attack it, don’t mention Rosette.  It is surprising at an epoch when miracles suscitated a prodigious interest throughout the whole of the Occident and were the objects of serious studies for the first time, with scientific controls.  For example, those accomplished in the middle of the XIXth Century by Bernadette Soubirous and Jean-Marie Vianney, the Curate of Ars.

It is Maitre Maurice Garcon, the famous lawyer, who exhumed this case, thanks to the ecclesiastic authorities, who, for the first time, in the 1930’s, placed the documents and exhibits at his disposition.

***

This long silence was paradoxically because the Church feared that the judiciary authorities might be convinced of the authenticity of the Saint-Saturnin prodigies…  It is in fact extremely prudent in matter of recognition of saints or miracles.

Jeanne d’Arc was canonised only in 1920 and Saint Bernadette in 1933.  Saint Therese of Lisieux, who was canonised in record time, still had to wait thirty years.

Further, the Church always fears the intervention of the Devil in paranormal phenomena.

***

Imprint of Rosette Tamisier's bloody stigmata, believed to represent Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.

Louis Pauwels, whose work I have translated, believes that Rosette Tamisier performed miracles.  The archives of the civil enquiry as well as those of the ecclesiastic enquiry, along with the whole of the witness statements, concord on several points.  Even outside the miracle of the picture, it is accepted that Rosette levitated when she prayed and that she bore stigmata.

***

Although the Church recognizes the existence of levitation, it does not consider that it is enough for canonisation.

Certain mediums also levitate.

As for stigmata, they too are fairly common.

***

On the subject of the bleeding picture, there are many witness statements.  Those of the whole population, but also the gendarmes who established the reports, the Sous-Prefet, the Mayor and doctors.  Collective hallucination appears to be unthinkable.

The "Descent From the Cross" which was in the Church of Saint-Saturnin.

The report of Gendarme Brive, for example, clearly indicates that, when the blood that had flowed from the wounds on the picture was wiped off, it immediately formed again and so on, up to three or four times, more and more weakly, it is true.

At the beginning of the miracles, Rosette asked to be alone inside the chapel on the morning preceding these miracles.  Certain people have used this to argue that she herself spread blood on the canvas.  This cannot be so, for apart from the surveillance which had been established around the chapel, the religious authorities first, the civil ones later, had the picture taken down to see if it was rigged in some way.  Nothing suspicious had been found.  At the last miracle notably, the blood came back with such abundance that any idea of subterfuge, of “juggling”, as the Archbishop said, appeared to be out of the question.

***

This attack from the Roman Catholic Church is comprehensible.  Firstly, around the same epoch there had been the case of Sister Patrocinio, a Spanish nun who drew fake wounds on her body with a stick of silver nitrate.  This had thrown considerable discredit on the religion.  It was also the eve of a great occultist awakening in the middle of the end of the XIXth Century.  Heresies were flourishing, notably that of Vintras, who had founded the Oeuvre de misericorde, whose doctrine would spread into numerous European countries.

He had announced that all sorts of miracles were going to occur, and the Church made the connection, fearing that Rosette was part of this sect.

In fact, the extraordinary thing about this case is that the Church itself undertakes to put a miracle girl on trial.

Apart from the Curate of Saint-Saturnin, all the men of the Church in her time will be gradually against the miraculous thesis.  So almost all of the laics, public servants, lawyers, doctors and others will be for it, the free thinkers, like Doctor Clement, among them.  This quite simply shows that, in this matter, the Church displays a much more critical and prudent attitude than the laics.  For it knows what it can lose in prematurely recognizing miracles which aren’t, and in annexing to the religion phenomena for which all rationality appears out of the question.

***

As soon as the judgement had been rendered, the famous picture was removed from the chapel and no-one knows what happened to it.  Perhaps it is with certain ecclesiastic dossiers to which, despite his requests, Maitre Garcon never had access?…

***

Rosette Tamisier.

To those who attempt to relate what their eyes have seen, Abbot Caval replies:

“I have much better things to do than discuss this…  I’ve seen enough as it is, I’ve made up my mind…”

In vain does Doctor Bernard solicit an official analysis of the traces of blood that he has collected from the bleeding picture.  The intransigent Abbot answers:

“We know how to find the truth better than you do, Sir…”

It is hoped that, inside the locked chapel, the awaited miracle will occur in the absence of any witness.  It doesn’t.

It is Rosette herself who gives an explanation for this:

“The violent contradictions which are perturbing people’s minds are disturbing the operations of grace at the moment,”

says she to Doctor Bernard, with great presence of mind.

The ecclesiastic authorities want to move quickly, even more so as, in Spain at the same epoch, an enormous scandal has just exploded, certain aspects of which recall what is then happening in Saint-Saturnin.

Imprint of Rosette Tamisier's bloody stigmata, believed to represent Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.

A certain Sister Patrocinio, who was carrying stigmata fairly similar to Rosette’s, had been thrown into prison by the Prosecutor and her wounds had healed with a few cataplasms.  The nun had finally confessed to keeping her wounds open with a mysterious stone which had been given to her by her Confessor.  The Patrocinio is locked up in a convent from whence Queen Isabella soon removes her to make her her favourite, causing great scandal at the Court and among the population.

The Episcopate fears that similar things might occur in the South of France.  The conclusions of the Commission are quickly collected and they proclaim that it is impossible to see in these facts which have been submitted to it “the characteristics of a true miracle”.  Curate Grand resentfully writes that same day in a letter:  “Hell roars around us…”, while the satirical Parisian Press makes fun of the Sous-Prefet.

The uproar caused by this conclusion is far from being calmed, when the said Sous-Prefet, who is seen as a hero by some and an idiot by others, receives a letter signed by a certain Abbot Charvoz from Orelle.

It is this letter which will precipitate Rosette Tamisier’s sad destiny, without any recourse.

In 1953, the statuette of Saint Anne d'Entrevaux (Alpes de Haute-Provence) suddenly started to bleed. Laboratory analyses showed that it was human blood which was dripping from the finger of the plaster saint. Dr Tropini from Nice is seen here radiographing the statuette and discovered no trickery.

Abbot Charvoz was in fact the pontiff at the Oeuvre de misericorde and had been one of the first disciples of Vintras, the famous Norman heretic whom Barres evokes in La Colline inspiree.

In his letter, Abbot Charvoz takes the side of the miraculous thesis with great finesse and accuses the episcopal authority of wanting to stamp out the divine manifestations by lying about them.

At this epoch, the Roman Catholic religion was a State religion and heresy was hunted out.  It took no more than this for the Sous-Prefet to accuse Rose of being a vintrasian heretic, and for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, prodded perhaps by the Archbishop of Avignon, to take hold of her case.

As soon as the judiciary machine entered into action, witness statements poured in.  On the laic side, opinion is clearly favourable to Rosette at first.  The Judge of the Peace at Salon sends an eulogy of the young woman which emanates from the Sisters of the Presentation and confirms that, during her stay in the Sisters’ House, Rosette had been fed by Communion wafers which had come to her miraculously.

The Judge of the Peace at the Isle includes with his report, which is also favourable, an undershirt which supports the authenticity of the stigmata of her adolescence.  Even the Mayor of Saint-Saturnin sends a pathetic letter in which he is firmly on the side of the miracle.

Meanwhile, Curate Grand is begging Heaven for the prodigy to be renewed before the pilgrims who are more and more numerous and are leaving disappointed.  Rosette has been ill since the beginning of the year and cannot even be moved.  Evil gossipers use this to say that she can no longer slip into the chapel to prepare her “miracles” herself.

On the morning of 5 February however, a capital event will occur.

The "Descent From the Cross" which was in the Church of Saint-Saturnin.

During the preceding night, she suffered atrociously and in the early morning she whispered to those at her side:

“I suffered too much for there not to be something exraordinary to have happened up there…”

When the Curate penetrates the chapel with a group of pilgrims, the spectacle is stunning.  From all of the crucified one’s wounds, including his head, blood has flowed with an abundance never before observed.

The most sceptical people should have bowed to this evidence, but it is the complete opposite that takes place.  Pressed to end it all, the Prosecutor of the Republic listens only to gossip and charges Rose with two offences:  fraud and affront to religion.

In 1955 at Englancourt (Aisne) the faithful saw the gilded statue of the Virgin Mary blink its eyes several times.

The judge goes immediately to Saint-Saturnin and lengthily interrogates the miracle girl.  With a gentleness and a politeness which appear very excessive to Curate Grand…  The holy man fears that all this must hide a trap.

He was right:  the magistrate has an arrest warrant signed which is executed the same day.  Of what exactly is she accused?

Of something as vague as “affront” and as exorbitant as “theft”…  Because of some Communion wafers which had disappeared for a while from the Curate’s taberacle…

The judge’s report concludes like this:

“Approximate value of the stolen objects:  nothing.”

The little cabriolet which, the following day, carries Rosette to Apt is more or less her hearse, for from this moment she is going to disappear from the chronicles of the epoch.

In Apt and on the road which leads there, thousands of people, mysteriously alerted, line up and firstly watch in silence as the carriage passes by with drawn curtains.

When the coach arrives in the streets at the centre of the town, the crowd becomes extremely dense.  A versatile and cruel crowd from whence rise the first cries, female voices of course:

“Let her be whipped!…  Let her be whipped!…”

A few moments later, preceded by four gendarmes on horseback, who open a path for it with difficulty, the carriage penetrates the gaol.

From now on, it will be experts, chemists and magistrates who will take centre-stage.  After having revoked the Sous-Prefet who was tenaciously defending Rosette, the Minister of the Interior hands the case over to the Minister of Justice who names a pharmacist to examine the picture.  Laboriously, he attempts to demonstrate that Rosette used a leech to colour the wounds or a mixture with a potassium cyanide base.

The Accusation Dossier  deposed on 10 July is so weak and so badly presented that the tribunal is obliged to dismiss the case.  Abbot Grand and those faithful to the miracle girl are triumphant.  Not for long, alas…

An old enemy of Rosette, Abbot Caire, thinks that this is the right moment to insinuate that the judicial complexity of this case itself well proves…  the presence of Satan…

Immediately, taking for pretext an Article of the Code which punishes with imprisonment those who have insulted or defaced a religious object, the magistrates send the case back to the Correctional Tribunal of Carpentras.

***

To be continued.

Rosette Tamisier.

Sous-Prefet Grave has spent a rather bad night.  Up at five o’clock, he had prowled around his bedchamber in prey to an exaltation which he was having more and more trouble containing.  This young public servant is convinced of the authenticity of the Saint-Saturnin miracles and this day is his day.  In front of the atheist world, the incredulous of all kinds, the sniggerers of the “prefectoral”, he intends furnishing brilliant proofs of the miracle.

At eight o’clock on the dot, he climbs the mystical hill.  Seeing him, the gendarmes stand to attention, and Abbot Grand, who is already there, tries to stop the impetuous public servant from opening the chapel door.  He tells him that they should wait for the Archbishop.  Using his police rights, the Sous-Prefet goes to the entrance grille, on the pretext of organizing the edifice’s interior security.

When Monsignor arrives, out of breath, a few minutes later, carried on a human tide difficult to control, the miracle is, it could be said, finished.  With a precipitation which leads Curate Grand and Doctors Bernard and Clement to question his basic equilibrium, the Sous-Prefet has leapt onto the altar.

The "Descent From the Cross" which was in the Church of Saint-Saturnin.

With an immaculate piece of linen, he has collected many drops of blood, after having applied the piece of material several times on the different wounds.  Finally, and despite the adjurations and indignant trepignations of the doctors, he has even finished cleaning the picture by energetically rubbing all the wounds.

At the foot of the altar, Rosette is lost in her ecstasy, as pale as death.

Monsignor and the other important people present do not hide their disappointment.  The Prelate still climbs onto a step-ladder that two gendarmes hold still and collects a few drops of red liquid but of a colour and an abundance which are much less than a moment before.

In the group of officials, everyone is elbowing his neighbour to try to see, and disappointment is written on all faces.  On all faces except that of the Sous-Prefet who, in this consecrated place,  is not afraid to speak to the audience.

“The prodigy has just been renewed!  I saw drops of blood well up after I’d wiped them off…  You must believe me!…”

This is too much for Monsignor who turns to leave.  Passing in front of Rosette, who is of frightful pallor, he orders that she be taken home.  The two doctors do this.

They support the young girl who walks with difficulty, and appears to be suffering a lot.  When she arrives at the top of the chapel steps, the depressed crowd quietens.  In the first row, a few pious women fall to their knees.

Among all those who had come this day to witness decisive events, rare were those who did not return home disappointed.  Doubtless too much had been expected of this day, spoilt as well by the Sous-Prefet’s initiatives.

From this day on, many in the region begin to doubt, and the renown of these events throughout the countryside, only reinforces the controversies everywhere.

The day after the Archbishop’s memorable visit, another, even more spectacular, emission of blood occurs before numerous pilgrims.

Journalists rush from everywhere during these last days of the year.  Those from the Gazette de Provence and from the Commune d’Avignon notably, who are rather favourable.  But as Rosette’s reputation grows, the ecclesiastic authorities stay out of it more and more.

There is no doubt that, in the minds of the men of the Church, something is really happening at Saint-Saturnin.  But what?

The Devil is starting to be evoked by several people to explain these phenomena.  Not without perfidy, a missionary from Notre-Dame-de-Lumiere, Abbot Chavard, prepares a trap for Rosette in the form of a long, sick letter which relates invented prodigies, which this religious man says to have seen.

He asks Rose to give him an explanation of these mysteries by return mail, and is sure that he will be able to decode in her answer the diabolical influences which he says are being exercised on Rosette, who confesses in her letter:

“I am very proud and full of self-love, but I do not believe that it comes from the demon…”

In this missive full of humility where she confides to what point her poor life is torn among household worries,  the vendanges and the mystical ordeals, this singular Father believes that he can clearly read the influence of the evil one.

Curate Grand is the only one who remains convinced of his parishioner’s sainthood and, some time later, he lets it be known, as a new mark of providence, that his joke has rapidly brought Abbot Chavard to despair and that he bitterly regrets it.

Between those who think that it is the Devil and those who believe in Heaven’s intervention, between Rosette’s laic partisans and the religious men who almost all swear to expose her, confusion is at its height at the beginning of 1850.

In light of this plague which is now attacking his good town, the Archbishop of Aix asks the local clergy for some explanations.  The Bishop of Le Mans, the Bishop of Gap and also the Bishop of La Rochelle, without looking to give an opinion founded on anything, cry that it is trickery, while the occultists, led by Monsieur de Mirville, the author of the book Des Esprits, who was famous in his time, demand that information on this prodigy be sent to them so that they can “proclaim it in the whole Universe”.

Imprint of Rosette Tamisier's bloody stigmata which appeared several times on her chest. It is believed to represent Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.

Rosette remains unperturbed and announces for the 1st January a miracle of unprecedented force.  The stigmata of her childhood have now returned in the form of bloody lines on her chest which form crosses or a heart whose imprint can be perfectly collected on a piece of linen.

On the eve of the Saint-Sylvestre [31 December], the partisans of one or the other side begin to physically fight in the region’s cabarets, and the journalists openly write that the devil is walking the streets of Saint-Saturnin.  This is too much for the religious authorities.

At the moment when Curate Grand is putting the conditions of control into place, also without precedent for an imminent miracle, the Archbishop’s decision to constitute a Commission of Enquiry is communicated to him, and the Commission immediately arrives on the scene to seal the chapel’s door.

Then the Church’s investigators gallop around the region and the famous chapel at lightning speed before going to hear the Sous-Prefet of Apt.  Who is flabbergasted for a moment when one of the members of the Commission, Abbot Caval, says straight out to him that Rosette Tamisier is assuredly a member of a sect that wants to install the reign of the “Spirit of Darkness” on Earth.

To be continued.

%d bloggers like this: