I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.
And So It Begins
In 1906, in the tiny South African village of Natal, a young girl fell victim to what many believed to be the consequences of an alignment with the purveyor of ultimate evil, Satan himself. Clara Germana Cele, impressionable and naive, was only sixteen when she dove headfirst into the darkness.
From an early age, Clara had gravitated towards the Christian faith. Orphaned as a toddler, she was raised by the nuns at St. Michael's Mission. She attended Catholic school, as did many of her peers. The little girl, however, had not been like the other children.
As she grew into a young adult, the ever-curious Clara began to dabble in things that flew in the face of the teachings that had sustained her up to that point. It was later alleged that she had gone so far as to make a pact with the devil, although the details of this transaction have never been revealed. All that was known at the time was that the girl was beginning to change, and not for the better.
The Quest for Salvation
Seemingly overnight, the teenager who had never set foot outside of her tiny haven, began to speak in languages that she couldn't possibly have known. Without any prompting or coaching, she could carry on fluent conversations in Polish, German, French and a multitude of other languages. To add to the mystery, not only could she speak fluently in other tongues, but she also understand every word when native speakers were brought in to test her newfound knowledge.
Clara, whose profound religious convictions had previously been unshakeable, could no longer tolerate being in the presence of Christian artifacts of any kind. She would fly into an uncontrollable rage at the mere sight of a religious symbol, attacking both herself and anyone else who happened to be nearby until the offending object was removed.
The young girl also began to show an amazing talent for reading minds. Not only could she tell those around her what they were thinking at any given moment, but she had also gained the ability to see beyond the here and now. Upon meeting someone for the first time, she was able to effortlessly provide a complete rundown of their history, going as far back as childhood. According to records taken at the time, no amount of trickery could fool her. As impossible as it seemed, researchers determined that Clara could somehow get inside the minds of anyone she encountered, whether they wanted her to or not.
Those closest to her believed early on that the girl's inexplicable transformation was the work of something demonic. Rumors of her having struck a deal with the devil only served to add fuel to the fire. Aware of the severity of Clara's affliction, priests were called in to perform the rites of exorcism. Experienced clerics who had encountered possession and conquered it in the past, had their work cut out for them when the time came to face the formidable entity that had taken hold of Clara.
Two priests were appointed to release the girl from the clutches of her demon. Knowing that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime event, nearly a hundred spectators gathered to observe the proceedings. As the ritual got underway, several onlookers fled after witnessing Clara's animalistic behavior. It was only after seeing the thrashing, contorted figure for themselves that naysayers came to truly believe that the shy girl they had once known no longer existed.
During the exorcism, Clara lashed out violently as the priests recited sacred passages meant to free her from her tormentor. Witnesses claimed that they saw her body rise five feet in the air and hover overhead as the priests prayed for her deliverance. It was reported that not only did she levitate horizontally, but also that she managed, at one point, to right herself into a standing position while suspended in midair.
After several exhausting hours, during which Clara alternately fought them and placating them in the voice of a small child, the clerics announced that the ritual was complete. In the moments that followed, Clara Germana Cele was declared free from infestation.
After the hubbub died down and the crowd dispersed, the nuns at the mission were left with the unenviable task of nursing Clara back to health. It was apparent right from the start that her weeks spent in the throes of possession had taken a toll on her still-developing body. The once vibrant teenager was now little more than skin and bones, her eyes sunken deep into their sockets as a result of malnutrition and dehydration.
Thanks to the around-the-clock attention provided by her caregivers, Clara was quickly on the mend. As soon as she was able, she asked to resume her religious studies. While others fixated on the past, she looked only toward the future.
When questioned by those eager to learn more about her ordeal, she had nothing to offer. Her time spent suffering at the hands of something unnamable was, according to her, a blank space in her memory. It was a position she would maintain until her untimely death from natural causes some six years later.
Clara, aware of her rumored pact with the devil, vehemently denied the claim. Her faith had been the core of her existence for as long as she could remember and she swore to anyone who would listen that she had not abandoned it. She insisted that no promises carried on the lips of a demon would have made her jeopardize her relationship with God. On this point, for Clara, there was no debate. If she had been possessed, as many believed, the situation had not been of her own making.
Life in the village eventually returned to normal, as did Clara. Her knowledge of the outside world was gone, as was her ability to speak or understand any language other than her own. Her insight into the thoughts of others had also become a thing of the past. She was, as far as anyone could tell, her old self.
Clara would be evaluated by mental health professionals on numerous occasions in the coming years at their request. They were unanimous in their determinations that she did not suffer from schizophrenia or any other condition whose symptoms could have mimicked those of demonic possession.
Perhaps, as some have suggested, she was simply a talented actress who managed to fool not only an entire village, but also the Catholic Church and a host of venerable psychiatrists. Such a thing is possible, of course, but unlikely given the unique circumstances surrounding her case.
If, on the other hand, Clara was indeed the victim of an opportunistic entity, then it is possible that the faith she wore like a badge of honor had also marked her as the perfect victim. She was known to be a free spirit with a voracious appetite for learning. Perhaps her open mind had attracted a diabolical presence that disguised itself as a messenger of light in order to gain her trust. After all, who among us would recognize a demon masquerading as an angel?