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10th Jun 2024

‘Devil letter’ written by possessed nun in 1676 has finally been translated

Callum Boyle

The letter has finally been uncovered

A letter claimed to have been written by a possessed nun almost 350 years ago has finally been translated.

Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione was found on August 11, 1676 was found on the floor of her covent cell, covered in ink and holding a note featuring an unintelligible mix of symbols and letters.

The entire message had 14 lines of script that nobody could translate however in 2017, someone finally cracked the code.

Daniele Abate, director of Italy’s Ludum Science Centre, had been working on trying to translate the script for years and came to the conclusion that Sister Maria had created her own language.

He told Live Science: “The letter appeared as if it was written in shorthand.

“We speculated that Sister Maria created a new vocabulary using ancient alphabets that she may have known.”

To confirm his claim, Abate and his colleagues used computer software to compare the 350-year-old scribblings to shorthand symbols from different languages.

By doing so, they were able to discover that the letter contained a mixture of words from ancient alphabets, including Greek, Latin, Runic and Arabic.

“We analysed how the syllables and graphisms [thoughts depicted as symbols] repeated in the letter in order to locate vowels, and we ended up with a refined decryption algorithm,” he continued.

“We thought we could just come out with a few words making sense. But the nun had a good command of languages. The message was more complete than expected.”

As well as the translation, Abate concluded that the young woman suffered from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, noting that the “image of the devil is often present in these disorders.”

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