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Answering the Call
Everyone, including the subject herself, knew that Isabella Tomasi was born to join the sisterhood. Devoted to her faith, the young Sicilian willingly turned her life over to God at the tender age of fifteen. Upon shedding her former identity, she was reborn as Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione.
Maria assimilated well to the cloistered environment, embracing life in the convent with open arms. For the next sixteen years, she would live peacefully among those who shared her ideology. What no one knew at the time was that, beneath her quiet exterior, a storm was brewing that would soon threaten to destroy everything in its path.
A Mystery Unfolds
Everything changed for the young nun when, in the summer of 1676, she was found twisting and squirming on the floor of the rectory, her face smeared with ink. In her hands, she clutched a sheet of paper that contained a baffling amalgamation of letters and symbols that no one present could decipher.
While being examined by the medical personnel who were summoned to the scene, a visibly shaken Sister Maria informed them that the note she held had been dictated to her by the creature she most feared: Satan himself.
She went on to say that, although she had no idea what she had written or how she had accomplished such a feat while in a trance-like state, she did know that the words, which were not her own, were intended to pull her from the arms of God and into the devil's unholy embrace.
Naturally, no one knew what to make of these outlandish claims. After coming to the hasty conclusion that she had suffered some sort of nervous breakdown, the decision was made to allow her to rest until she regained her senses. In the meantime, scholars set to work trying to decode the perplexing correspondence.
The Plot Thickens
It was determined that, besides consisting of symbols that seemed to have no rhyme or reason, the note had been penned in at least four different languages: Greek, Latin, Runic, and Arabic. This observation raised more than a few eyebrows since Sister Maria was a linguist who was believed to have had at least a passable knowledge of each of those tongues.
Curiously, at the bottom of the letter, rather than signing her name, Maria had scribbled the word "Ohime," meaning "Oh, me." When questioned, she explained that the devil had demanded that she attach her signature to the note she had scrawled at his behest. Rather than complying, she had jotted down the exclamation as a way of voicing her indignation at having been forced to do his bidding.
Her defense sounded plausible, but not everyone was buying it. Other members of the order came forward to assert that Sister Maria had been behaving strangely in the days leading up to her apparent break from reality.
According to them, the thirty-one-year old would either faint dead away, or let out a blood-curdling shriek that would shake the rafters anytime her duties required that she approach the altar. She would also recoil in the presence of holy water and crucifixes, the very symbols she had once held in reverence.
It was during this time that Marie revealed to her closest confidantes that she was hearing voices. Convinced that she was being stalked by evil spirits, she hoped that by sharing her fears with others, the curse would be lifted. Instead, as was evidenced on the day she was discovered writhing on the floor, her confessions had only made things worse.
The indiscernible letter, coupled with the nun's odd behavior, led her doctor's to conclude that she was suffering from some form of mental illness, most likely schizophrenia. And, with that, the case was closed.
The Search for Answers
Centuries past and the mystery of what really happened to Sister Maria faded with time. That is, until 2018 when internet sleuths, using software developed on the dark web, were finally able to interpret much of the content found in the letter.
The dark web, the seedy underbelly of the online world, is a place where secrets are normally kept, not revealed. In this case, however, the platform used its powers for good rather than evil.
It came as no surprise that the note was not flattering to the Christian faith. It began by declaring that the Holy Trinity consisted of nothing more than "dead weights." It went on to say that "God thinks he can free mortals. The system works for no one. Perhaps now Styx is certain."
The reference to the River Styx, the fabled waterway said to separate the land of the living from that of the dead, was taken as an ominous warning to Sister Marie, and all others who shared her faith, that evil would prevail in the end. The letter also purported that God was a creation of man, not the other way around.
Sister Marie, who had always insisted that she had no understanding of the note, had nonetheless been adamant that it, and the alleged attacks preceding it, had been a concerted effort on the part of Satan to force her to abandon her calling and join the army of the damned. If these recent revelations are accurate, there is a chance that she just might have been onto something.
No reliable records can be found documenting what became of the emotionally tormented nun, but one hopes that she was confined to a place where the dark things that haunted her thoughts were kept at bay. It can be assumed that the root of her aberrant behavior was never definitively uncovered.
While some held steadfast to their belief that she was the victim of a mental illness that had taken over suddenly and mercilessly; others were equally certain that she had been possessed by a demon bent on procuring her soul.
In the end, we will probably never know the full story. As of this writing, the letter is still being deciphered; much of its content being kept under wraps. Perhaps someday, the truth behind Sister Maria's ordeal will at last come to light. Until then, we are left to wonder if her descent into madness was a result of psychosis, or a character assassination orchestrated by the devil himself.