When I heard it last night, I thought it might be a report on a new movie in production, or a horror movie retrospective at a movie house in Harvard Square. After all, I only caught the tail-end of the report. The mention of vampires, werewolves, and especially Transylvania can evoke thoughts of the horror genre. There was also an exorcism mentioned, which also made me think of a movie being filmed.
~ Since the set was tuned to the Biography channel, I guessed that maybe they had a bio on Linda Blair. The location was certainly apropos; a convent in northwestern Romania near Arad on the border of Transylvania. This area of course has been the realm of vampires and werewolves.
~ I soon went to bed and forgot the whole thing. It was forgotten until the next morning, that is. Skimming through the morning paper over a cup of coffee, I noticed an article at the bottom of page five. The headline read: Priest's Exorcism Results In Death. It was like a Paul Harvey moment .."And now for the rest of the story." Remembering Linda Blair and the film "The Exorcist," I thought that it certainly was life imitating art.
~ A priest and four nuns face up to twenty years in prison for the death of a 23-year-old woman. The woman had been chained to a cross, gagged and starved in the cellar of a Romanian convent in a bizarre rite of exorcism. According to local police, the woman died of suffocation, a towel having been stuffed in her mouth to muzzle her screams.
~ Maricica Irina Cornici had been raised in an orphanage before becoming a nun. The woman was a schizophrenic, given to rapid mood swings. These changes in personality led some of the other nuns in the convent to surmise she was possessed by the devil. Thus Father Daniel, a Romanian Orthodox priest, crucified her for three days, reciting prayers to banish her evil spirits.
~ Father Daniel, a large man with a red beard and glowing eyes, showed no remorse when he was arrested. "God has performed a miracle for her," he proclaimed. "At last Irina has been delivered from evil."
~ While forced fasting is sometimes considered a part of the exorcism ritual, the Romanian press decried the practice as an act of torture. "I don't understand why journalists are making such a fuss about this," the priest said. The defiant nuns had refused to speak to the press or discuss God's will.
~ Michaela Straub, a police spokesperson, said the five would be charged with 'depriving a victim of freedom, leading to death' - a charge normally applied to hostage-takers. She also noted that Father Daniel seemed only too happy to have performed the grim exorcism.
~ I normally try to find a humorous angle to my postings, but I have to apologize, for I cannot find a reason to laugh with or at this story. I can only liken the four nuns to the two girls whose charges led to the infamous witch trials of Salem, Mass., nearly 400 years ago.
~ As for me, I find this story disturbing. In this day and age with the legacies of memory and knowledge of past atrocities, how can there still be such superstitious and pagan beliefs? How can a man and women of faith sink to such lowly depths?