In the nearly four centuries since the public execution of Father Urbain Grandier, his story has remained one of the most fascinating and frightening historical accounts of someone selling their soul to the Devil. Maybe its the evil sprits, the sorcery, the witchcraft, or the hardcopy of Satan’s signature that has caused the story to endure, but one thing is for certain – the true life story of Grandier and the Loudun possessions is so crazy that were it not for the survival of the paper contract with Lucifer, one might think the whole story was made up.
During his life, Urbain Grandier proved time and time again that he wasn’t the greatest priest. In fact, he might have been one of the worst. Urbain spent most of his time at the Sainte Croix in Loudun, France ignoring his vow of celibacy. Described as a devilishly handsome man, Father Grandier had a reputation for enticing many of the area’s most powerful women into bed, and to make matters even more salacious, he wasn’t particularly secretive about his conquests.
Unfortunately for Grandier, his lascivious behavior got him into a world of trouble on June 2, 1630, when he was arrested and found guilty of immorality. Luckily for Grandier, not only was he good-looking, but he was also a very well-connected man, and within a year he had been fully restored of all of his clerical duties. Naturally, he went right back to continuing his sexual escapades.
What Urbain didn’t know was that a plan was being hatched that would eventually lead to his untimely and horrific death. A jealous fellow priest, Father Mignon, who had spent many years as the sole confessor to the Ursuline nuns, decided that he’d had enough of Grandier and his sexual shenanigans. Mignon went about carefully persuading the Loudun Nuns, specifically Jeanne des Anges, to publicly declare that Father Grander had used sorcery on them. Some of the nuns claimed that they had begun falling into fits of madness, while others declared that Grandier would appear to them as an angel and entice them into debauched orgies. For celibate nuns, these ladies sure had vivid imaginations.
When word reached Father Grandier that his reputation had gotten a lot worse than usual, he headed straight to the Loudun bailiff to plead that the nuns to be isolated from the whisperings of Father Mignon. The bailiff ignored his request, and the sisters continued to spread rumors of Gradier’s satanic influence. It wasn’t long before the nuns were being subjected to a series of “exorcisms”, courtesy of Father Mignon, during which the women would bark, scream, swear, and flail wildly around the room. During one of the deliverance sessions, Sister Jeanne des Anges swore that her possession had begun one evening after Father Grandier had tossed a bouquet of red roses over the high walls of the convent.
By March of 1633, no real evidence of possession or Urbain Grandier’s hellish powers were ever discovered during the exorcisms, so the authorities had the nuns sequestered in cells in order to salvage what little reputation the salacious priest had left. It helped very little. When the exorcisms were once again resumed, they began to draw massive crowds of 7,000 spectators or more, each of them wanting to get a peek at the satanic circus that had become the tabloid tale of its day.
The citizens of Loudun watched as several priests attempted to exorcise hysterical nuns, each of whom responded with dramatic physical responses and declarations that they were filled with demons thanks to the evil workings of Father Grandier. Urbain himself even attempted an exorcism on the nuns with the hopes of clearing his name. As you might imagine, this just made the situation worse, and the women continued to scream obscenities, bark like dogs, and roll wildly on the ground to the delight of the crowds.
The final nail in Father Grandier’s coffin came when a stunning piece of evidence was presented to the courts that sent the poor priest straight to the stake he was burned on: a contract, which was said to have been stolen from Lucifer’s very cabinet of pacts by the demon Asmodeious, showed a written agreement, scribbled, in backwards Latin, between Grandier, a handful of demons, and the devil himself. The contract even included unique signatures from all mentioned parties.
“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,” the contract read. “And him do we promise the love of women, the flower of virgins, the respect of monarchs, honors, lusts and powers.”
At least he was thorough. The contract continues:
“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. Signed Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan, Astaroth, Leviathan, Elimi. The seals placed the Devil, the master, and the demons, princes of the lord. Baalberith, writer.”
Actual “satanic contract” with Urbain, complete with demons’ signatures
While the contract reads as a convenient list of all the things that made Grandier’s fellow priests, jealous, angry, or offended, that didn’t stop the authorities from arresting him and throwing him into prison where his body searched for “devil marks” by inquisitors. He was then prepared for torture, which at the time, was a commonplace step in the confession process. After several rounds of painful questioning, Father Grandier never once confessed to being a warlock, even after being subjected to some of the worst forms of torture available at the time.
Despite the lack of a confession, the courts ruled that Urbain Grandier’s physical contact with the Devil was enough to convict him, and though he had been scheduled to be hanged, the disgraced priest was marched to the center of town where he was burned alive at the stake in front of a cheering crowd.
Though Urbain Grander wouldn’t be the last person put to death after an accusation of witchcraft, his story remains one of the most fascinating because of the physical “proof” of his devilish misdeeds. The question is, where in the world did Father Mignon and the Loudun Nuns get a contract signed by Satan? Years later, when Urbain’s alleged contract with the demons of hell was re-examined by handwriting analysts, it was discovered that the writing style was a match for Sister Jeanne des Anges herself.
Father Urbain Grandier might have been a bad priest, but in the end, it was the jealousy of his peers that got him killed. Haters gonna hate, but at least these days, you won’t get burned at the stake for killing it in the social game.