Monday, October 30, 2023

Cardinal Ottaviani: A Profile In Fortitude


Few figures during the time of the Robber Council, which spawned the sect of Counterfeit Catholicism, was more of a lightening rod for criticism on all sides than the late, great Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani (1890-1979). One of the most powerful men in the Vatican under Pope Pius XII, and a brilliant canonist, theologian, and philosopher in his own right (three earned doctorates), he was Pro-Prefect of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. The primary purpose of the Holy Office was to safeguard the Deposit of Faith from all attacks from whatever source; a responsibility the Cardinal took with all the somber seriousness and diligence one would expect from a true Prince of the Church.  

Modernists portray Cardinal Ottaviani as a "villain" who tried to "stop progress" and liked to "persecute misunderstood theologians." Some "conservative" Vatican II sect members falsely claim that he eventually recanted the famous theological study named after him (The Ottaviani Intervention), and accepted the so-called Novus Ordo Missae as a Catholic Mass. Some Traditionalists, acting like Monday morning quarterbacks, criticize him for not "doing more" or for not being an outspoken sedevacantist. 

Truth be told, Cardinal Ottaviani was a great Churchman, who tried with all his might to stop the Modernist takeover of the Vatican. In this post, I will write a brief overview of his life and his battles for Holy Mother Church. My sources are from two men who knew the Cardinal personally; theologian Fr. Joseph Fenton, and canonist Fr. Gommar DePauw. 

Fr. Fenton wrote about Cardinal Ottaviani shortly after the Council began, in a 1963 article for The American Ecclesiastical Review entitled Cardinal Ottaviani and the Council.  I have the writings of Fr. DePauw regarding the Cardinal, and how he told me that the ecclesiastical giant was a spiritual father to him, and without his help, the Catholic Traditionalist Movement never would have gotten off the ground. I take no credit for the information herein. I simply compiled the information from two amazing priests who stood alongside Cardinal Ottaviani in (as Fr. DePauw would say) the "fight for Truth and Tradition," and made it into what I hope is a terse, readable, and worthy writing on a Hero of the Catholic Church. 

A Holy and Humble Beginning
Alfredo Ottaviani was born on October 29, 1890, the tenth of a poor baker's twelve children, in a little store. He was never ashamed of his impoverished background, seeing that he had that in common with Our Lord. He grew up in the shadow of the Vatican, in Rome's Trastevere working-class district, where his pious parents instructed young Alfredo in the truths of the Faith. They probably couldn't imagine that their son would become the second most powerful cleric in the Church; second only to the Holy Father himself. 

Alfredo was as brilliant as he was devout, having been taught by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and felt called to the priesthood at an early age. He attended the Pontifical Roman Seminary and the Pontifical Roman Athenaeum S. Apollinare, from where he received  doctorates in philosophy, canon law, and sacred theology. On March 18, 1916, the twenty-five year old scholar was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. 

Called to teaching, he lectured several years on Ecclesiastical Public Law at the Apollinare Judicial University, and on Philosophy at the Pontifical Urban College of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, where he also held the position of Secretary for some time. In addition to all his official duties, he also carried out priestly work among the youths of the densely populated Aurelio district, at St. Peter's Oratory. 

In 1926 he was nominated Rector of the Pontifical Bohemian College, later called the College of Nepomucene, and there guided many young Czechs to the priesthood. In February 1928, Professor Ottaviani was called to service at the Vatican by Pope Pius XI, who appointed him Undersecretary of the Vatican Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, and a year later, Deputy Secretary of State. In 1935, he was transferred to the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (informally, "Holy Office"), as his stellar academic career as an approved theologian, canon lawyer, and philosopher preceded him, and that---along with his reputation for unflinching orthodoxy---made him the perfect cleric to help defend Faith and morals.  

In 1952, Pope Pius XII, who knew talent when he saw it, appointed him as the Pro-Prefect in charge of the Holy Office (the pope himself is Prefect of that Congregation). On January 12, 1953, that same Pontiff gave Fr. Ottaviani the Red Biretta as a Prince of the Church. Cardinals could be Cardinal-Priests, or Cardinal-Bishops. Cardinal Ottaviani remained a priest. He would resign as Pro-Prefect of the newly named "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" in 1968, when Montini (Paul VI) wanted him to give approval to "ecumenical services." Just prior to that battle, the Cardinal used every bit of his leverage and influence to successfully convince Montini not to permit artificial contraception.

In 1962, Roncalli (John XXIII) wanted all Cardinals to be Bishops by definition and would consecrate all Cardinal-priests personally. Hence, on April 19, 1962, at the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Ottaviani was consecrated a Bishop, with Roncalli as his Principal Consecrator, and Giuseppe Cardinal Pizzardo along with Benedetto Cardinal Aloisi Masella as his Co-Consecrators. 

Cardinal Ottaviani chose as his motto upon becoming a Cardinal Semper Idem---"Always the Same"---a reference to how Faith and morals can always be better understood, but can never change or become other than they were. How could they? The faith and morality of the One True Church is as unchanging as God Himself. His motto let friend and foe alike know that he was an indefatigable defender of the Deposit of Revelation against the machinations of the Modernists. He once publicly described his role at the Holy Office as that of "an old police officer guarding a reserve of gold." 

Both Church and human history would have been changed for the better had Cardinal Ottaviani been elected at the ill-fated conclave of 1958. He was so sure he would be elected, he even had his regnal name picked out; Pope Pius XIII, in honor of "Papa Pacelli" whom he esteemed and admired. 

At the Robber Council (which he advised against ever calling), His Eminence was the undisputed leader of the Traditionalist Bishops fighting tooth and nail against the Modernists. The Cardinal also knew talent when he saw it, and had 44 year old canonist Fr. Gommar DePauw as one of his periti (theological experts) and closest adviser. They would repeatedly lock horns with the equally undisputed leader of the demonic Modernists; the despicable Joseph Cardinal Frings of West Germany, and his top peritus, 35 year old theologian Fr. Joseph Ratzinger--the future leader of the very Vatican II sect of Counterfeit Catholicism he would help create. Fr. DePauw would spend many sleepless nights during Vatican II in strategy discussions with Cardinal Ottaviani and Bishop Blaise S. Kurz, to whom Fr. DePauw was his peritus as well. 

After the disaster that was Vatican II, Cardinal Ottaviani publicly denounced the Novus Bogus bread and wine service masquerading as a Catholic Mass, in a scathing theological critique that would go on to bear his name as the Ottaviani Intervention. It was something which he would never recant, just as the Novus Bogus itself was a service ("Mass" would be a meaningless word here)  which he never used. Cardinal Ottaviani had many problems with his eyes, becoming completely blind in one eye, and severely vision-impaired in the other. Yet his faith and intellect allowed him to see what was happening better with one poor eye, than most people with two perfect eyes. 

On August 3, 1979, just under three months away from what would have been his 89th birthday, Cardinal Ottaviani went to Judgement. He went to meet His Judge after a life well-spent in the service of God. The highlights of his life will be examined next. 

Cardinal Ottaviani: Reviled by the Communists, Modernists, and Masons
During the Robber Council Vatican II (October 11, 1962-December 8, 1965), no cleric was more constantly reviled and placed under unrelenting attack by the press than His Eminence. To any fair-minded person who knew the Cardinal, the words most used to describe him were brilliant, devout, and urbane. Yet the press put out story after story that was vehemently (even hysterically) unfavorable.

The Communist papers of Italy (literally Communist, I'm not using the word loosely in a pejorative sense) were the most vocal against him. The Italian anti-clerical press joined in, most notably L'Espresso, which would have three and one-half inch headlines attacking the Cardinal; some articles written by Carlo Falconi, a former Catholic. In the United States, the dual rags of Time and Newsweek would do their best to convince the gullible American public that His Eminence should be a discredited member of the College of Cardinals by writing articles that were notable for inaccuracy and malevolence. 

The question naturally arises as to why Cardinal Ottaviani was the object of such hatred. The answer is clear: he performed his job as Pro-Prefect of the Holy Office astonishingly well, and was Cardinal-President of the Preparatory Theological Commission for the Second Vatican Council. During his time at the Holy Office, numerous books were censured and placed on The Index of Forbidden Books. Many theologians were censured, such as Teilhard de Chardin and Yves Congar. The fact that he stopped Modernists dead in their tracks, earned him the ire of the many Modernists who were "underground" as it were, and waiting to overtake the Church. Ottaviani made no secret of his contempt and condemnation of all things Communist, making them his bitter enemies as well. He was also aware of the danger of Freemasonry, making his name one subjected to seeming limitless scorn in the Lodges of Lucifer. The good Cardinal also was an influence behind Pope Pius XII publishing his famous, scholarly, and erudite encyclical Humani Generis in 1950, forcefully condemning the errors of Modernist theologians of the time. 

As Cardinal-President of the Preparatory Theological Commission for the Second Vatican Council, he was the guiding force behind the original schemas, which were completely orthodox and address many errors. Never one to back down when protecting Church teaching, he publicly made it known that the documents would continue in the tradition of Counter-reformationist theology. When Roncalli (John XXIII) rehabilitated all the theologians Cardinal Ottaviani had censured under Pope Pius XII, he had them draw up new schemas after getting those originals scrapped. Cardinal Ottaviani was humiliated, and the Communists, Modernists, and Masons rejoiced. 

While not formal theological terminology, "Counter-reformationist theology" was a colloquial term for the theology as organized by the masters of the Counter-reformation period, such as Melchior Cano, St. Peter Canisius, St. Robert Bellarmine, Thomas Stapleton, William Estius, Francis Suarez, and Adam Tanner. These men were unanimous in their teaching that there are some truths contained in Sacred Tradition alone which must be believed. They insist that the Roman Catholic Church is the One True Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which no one may be saved. These truths are reviled by the world, which reviled Christ Himself. Can anyone who stands with the God-Man expect to be treated any more favorably? Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. (St. Luke 6:22).

Cardinal Ottaviani: Fighting at Vatican II Against the Modernist Juggernaut 
By 1962, a majority of Bishops were Modernist or Modernist-sympathizers. With false pope Roncalli (and later false pope Montini---Paul VI) aiding them, the Modernists were unstoppable. Nevertheless, the good Cardinal used his influence and his encyclopedic knowledge of procedure to try and stop them at every opportunity. Three incidents will help illustrate this point.

Frings attacks the Holy Office
On November 8, 1963, the loathsome Cardinal Frings took to the floor of the Council to address the question as to whether the powers of the Roman Curia should be at least partially taken away and given to diocesan Bishops. With an arrogance equaled by few, and surpassed by none, the leader of the Modernists directly attacked the Holy Office. "Its [the Holy Office's] procedures are out of harmony with modern times, and a source of scandal to those outside the Church. No Roman Congregation should have authority to accuse, judge, and condemn an individual who has had no opportunity to defend himself." 

Cardinal Ottaviani rightfully considered the German's words as a direct attack on the papacy itself. He took to the floor immediately after Frings' time to talk was up, and he wasted no time castigating him.
"The opportunity must be taken to protest most vigorously against the condemnation of the Holy Office voiced in this Council hall. It should not be forgotten that the Prefect of the Holy Office is none other than the Sovereign Pontiff himself. The criticism formulated proceeds from a lack of knowledge, not to use a stronger term, of the procedures of this Sacred Congregation. No one is ever accused, judged, and condemned without a thorough previous investigation carried out with the help of competent consultors and experienced specialists. Besides, all decisions of the Holy Office are approved by the pope personally, and thus such criticisms are a reflection on the Vicar of Christ." 

The "stronger term" Cardinal Ottaviani wanted to use was that Frings was a LIAR and CALUMNIATOR. Any canonist, whether in Frings' own diocese of Cologne, Germany or anywhere else, would have immediately known that the procedures of the Holy Office are very fair and can only have effect if approved and promulgated by the pope. What Herr Frings did was to purposely misrepresent the Holy Office to make the Congregation charged with keeping safe faith and morals look bad, and to take a cheap shot at both Cardinal Ottaviani and Pope Pius XII who had very successfully censured so many of the theologians who shared the Modernism of Frings. 

The speech by Frings had its intended effect. The press reported how Cardinal Ottaviani was acting the part of "Grand Inquisitor" and was defending the Church's alleged "human rights violations" in condemning heresy. Montini (Paul VI) never ordered Frings to retract his objectively false speech, nor was he made to apologize to the Pro-Prefect Ottaviani. He was clearly with the heretics and liars.

 Decrying "Collegiality"
When the debate on the topic of collegiality came up, once more, Cardinal Ottaviani took to the floor and defended the true teaching of the Church against this heresy: "Those who propose collegiality of the Bishops proceed in a vicious circle, since they presume that the Apostles existed and acted as a collegial body, and then proceed from that presumption to deduce the collegial character of the body of Bishops. And yet, learned and experienced professors of Sacred Scripture reject this thesis as without any solid foundations in the Sacred Scripture. To defend collegiality is to place a limitation on the exercise of  the universal primacy of the Roman Pontiff. Yet, the fact remains that only Peter has responsibility for the entire flock. It is not the sheep who lead Peter, but it is Peter who leads the sheep." (Emphasis mine). 

Frings was livid that Ottaviani (assisted this particular time by Cardinal Spellman of New York City) was clearly exposing the vacuous arguments of the Modernists and making the heretical prelates look like the sophistical fools they were. Indeed, Cardinal Spellman said in his floor speech, "Let us be careful about proposing anything that may be at variance with the decrees of previous Councils or papal pronouncements." Yet, that could only happen in the absence of the protection of the Holy Ghost promised to St. Peter and his successors. However, if Paul VI approved something contrary to previous Councils or papal pronouncements, it must mean he's NOT protected by the Holy Ghost because he is not the pope. Cardinal Spellman may have unwittingly spoken one of the premises for sedevacantism. Unfortunately, Spellman would later compromise his faith by voting for so-called "religious liberty." It would be a decision he would lament before his death with (literal) tears. 

Nevertheless, Ottaviani lost the battle in the demonic press, and by the Modernists who also bullied other prelates into voting their way on collegiality. 

Adamant Against Communists
Many Modernist prelates had Communist sympathies. They thought the idea of "containing Communism" as was the case in Vietnam at the time, was evil. They denounced war without condemning the cause of war: the sins of humanity and the scourge of Communism. On October 7, 1965 the Cardinal stated:

 "War is not the only thing we should condemn. We should also condemn the so-called 'guerilla' warfare, a method of fighting especially employed by the Communists to bring about the subjection of peoples to Communism. We should also condemn subtle war-like acts which nations use against each, such as 'sabotage' and 'terrorism.' Neither should we forget that Communism initiates its wars --that is, its aggressions---under the guise of 'liberation.'  For, to Communists, words assume a different meaning, more often than not a meaning which is contrary to that normally contained in the words themselves." Needless to say, no condemnation of Communism would ever make it out of the Council. Roncalli had already sold his soul to the Communists, agreeing that if the Communists allowed Eastern Schismatic Bishops to attend the Council, there would be no condemnation of their wicked system of government. It was dubbed the "Vatican-Moscow Agreement," and Montini honored it. Another example of ecumenism at its "finest."

Cardinal Ottaviani: Condemning The Novus Bogus "Mass"
In 1969, His Eminence met with a small group of top-notch theologians, and they put together the ultimate condemnation of the so-called "New Order (Novus Ordo) Mass." He sent Montini (Paul VI) the study with a cover letter in September of 1969, exactly five months after the "promulgation" of the Neo-Protestant bread and wine service. The study entitled A Critical Study of the New Order of the Mass, gave the dogmatic reasons explaining why the Novus Bogus must be rejected. After one month went by with no reply from Montini, the Cardinal attempted to meet with him, only to be denied an audience. 

Cardinal Ottaviani asked for all Bishops willing to stand up for the Mass of Ages and opposed to an invalid counterfeit, to sign the study along with him. Only two answered the call; Bishop Blaise Kurz (exiled Bishop of the Diocese of Yungchow, China), and Antonio Cardinal Bacci. Bishop Kurz was confined to a Catholic hospital and somehow the study never reached him (!) Cardinal Bacci signed and it was made public on October 15, 1969. It gave every Catholic solid grounds for rejecting the Novus Bogus on no less than twenty-seven counts, calling it:
  • a denial of all Catholic claims to be the True Church
  • the overthrow of a Tradition unchanged in the Church since the fourth and fifth centuries
  • satisfying even the most Modernistic of Protestants
  • the systematic and tacit negation of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament
  • an incredible innovation
  • AN INCULCABLE ERROR (Emphasis mine)
The study was subsequently called The Ottaviani Intervention, and belongs on every Traditionalist's bookshelf; to be read at least once a year to remind us of what was taken away from us and what evil replaced it. 

In 1970, there was a letter, purportedly signed by the Cardinal, retracting his endorsement and involvement in the study. His signature was obtained by fraud, as he was nearly totally blind in 1970, and the culprit was one Msgr. Gilberto Agustoni, a member of the "Concillium" which concocted the Novus Bogus with Freemason Bugnini directing it. The cardinal never  retracted his condemnation, nor did he offer any "Mass" but the Traditional Mass. 

Cardinal Ottaviani: Defender of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement
Fr. DePauw first heard the name Ottaviani while studying Canon Law in the seminary, where a textbook the future head of the Holy Office wrote, was part of the curriculum. Upon becoming an approved canonist himself, he never apologized to his students or colleagues for having stated that he was trying to be a faithful spiritual and intellectual disciple of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani. He would develop a close relationship with the His Eminence at the beginning of Vatican II, when he was introduced to him by his former Ordinary, Francis Cardinal Spellman. Impressed by Fr. DePauw, he became one of Cardinal Ottaviani's periti; Father also was peritus to Bishop Kurz and Cardinal Ruffini. 

Fr. DePauw launched the Catholic Traditionalist Movement on December 31, 1964, while the Council was still in session. He saw the evil coming. He made his Catholic Traditionalist  Manifesto public on March 15, 1965, and refused to implement any of the changes to the Mass as it would degenerate into the "Monstrosity of 1969." Father's Ordinary at that time was the ultra-Modernist Lawrence Cardinal Shehan of Baltimore. He made it clear that he would "destroy that thorn-in-my-side DePauw" who does nothing but "hinder progress." 

Cardinal Spellman got wind of this (already regretting some of his actions at the Council), and immediately went to Fr. DePauw. He told Father he would use his enormous political and legal connections to incorporate the Catholic Traditionalist Movement (CTM) in record time, and keep him safe under civil law in the United States. Ecclesiastical law was another matter. Cardinal Spellman met with Cardinal Ottaviani and told him of Shehan's intentions. His Eminence then invited Fr. DePauw to stay with him in Rome the week of August 10-16, 1965. 

Father said that during that week he learned more about Church politics than he was even able to suspect during his (at that time) previous 23 years in the priesthood. He thanked God that, besides many painful eye-openers he experienced on that occasion, he learned that not all Bishops and Cardinals were cheap politicians, and that the one with whom he was staying as a guest, was a man whose scholarly brilliance was only surpassed by his simple faith and unshakable integrity.

Cardinal Ottaviani convinced Shehan to sign Fr. DePauw's excardination papers, releasing him from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and had him incardinated into the Diocese of Tivoli, a suburb of Rome, on November 15, 1965. Tivoli allowed Father to continue with the CTM. When Shehan realized what His Eminence had done, he had a conniption. He denied having signed the excardination papers, and "suspended" Fr. DePauw, ordering him to return to Baltimore. Tivoli had allowed Bishop Kurz to have Fr. DePauw under his personal episcopal jurisdiction.  

Bp. Kurz went toe to toe with Shehan, and on January 17, 1966 made the following public declaration carried by the news media; it read in pertinent part:

 "I consider any attack on Father DePauw, at whatever the source or with whatever person that attack may originate, as an attack on my personal integrity as a Bishop of the Catholic Church. I most solemnly declare that the statements released by Father DePauw to the media [about his being incardinated with Bp. Kurz after release by Shehan--Introibo] ...contain the truth and nothing but the truth.(Emphasis mine).Then on May 22, 1966 at the Garden City Hotel in Long Island, NY, Bishop Kurz made the following historical step at a press conference when he stated to the world:

 "I recommend the Catholic Traditionalist Movement to all Catholics willing to defend our Church.  While the active leadership of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement will remain with Father DePauw, I have today accepted the position offered me by that Movement's Board of Directors, and will henceforth publicly function as Bishop-Moderator of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement."

Bp. Kurz further publicly challenged the odious Shehan to go to the Vatican and let Paul VI decide if he really signed those papers or not. Not one to mince words, he stated that if he was too cowardly to do so, then apologize like a man and undo the damage his calumny caused Fr. DePauw. Shehan never responded, and ran like the coward he was. The heroic response of Bp. Kurz was only possible thanks to the behind the scenes work of Cardinal Ottaviani.

When Fr. DePauw was leaving Rome in December of 1965, to publicly defend the Catholic Faith and denounce Vatican II, Cardinal Ottaviani gave him a letter containing his advice to him. It read in part:

Son, my prayers and blessings are with you. You will need them. You will have to suffer a great deal once you are back in the States. But, be strong. Watch every word you say. Be charitable even in regard to those who do not practice charity to you. I worry that they will even try to make life materially impossible for you.  But, you must persevere. You are fighting for God's truth and our Holy Mother Church. I am behind you. Always keep me informed. As long as I live, no one in Rome will ever touch you. And, if I live a few more years, by the time I leave this vale of tears, you will be so solidly entrenched that no one in Rome will touch you then either. 

His words came true. Thanks to Father's wealthy Belgian father, he was always materially well-off. Yet he suffered much from the constant harassment of the Modernists.

It is my belief that in the Church's darkest hour, the Most Holy Trinity raised up a quartet of holy clerics to keep the One True Church going. They did the best they could under the unique circumstances of the time as they then understood it. Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, Antonio Cardinal Bacci, Bishop Blaise S. Kurz, and Father Gommar A. DePauw, shall one day be known as the heroes of the Church they are, and who paved the way for others to do what they could. I respect other clerics who fought for the Church, but at the beginning of the Great Apostasy, you did not hear the names of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Bishop Alfred Mendez, or Archbishop Peter Thuc. They would not come out until after those brave "first responders." 

What made Cardinal Ottaviani and the other three great clerics stand out was the Gift of  Fortitude. One of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost received at Confirmation, fortitude is defined as, "... a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so, and the confidence to overcome all obstacles, even deadly ones, by virtue of the assurance of everlasting life." Can anyone reading the above post deny that Cardinal Ottaviani was a man of fortitude? It was my God-given honor and blessing to have known Fr. DePauw as my spiritual father for almost 24 years. I still miss him, and I'm afraid we will never see the likes of him again. 

Evil people continue to lie and calumniate these four Churchmen of fortitude. However, the facts of history will not change, no matter how hard people may try. The great assurance of our Faith also tells us that death is not "good-bye," but "so long for now."  I am comforted by the words of Sacred Scripture:

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. (Wisdom 3:1-3).

Monday, October 23, 2023

Our Constant Foe: Satan


To My Readers: This week I get a much needed respite thanks to my guest-poster Lee. As Halloween nears, and all things occult are celebrated, it's good to remind ourselves of one of the three threats to our salvation: the Devil. (The world and the flesh are the other two threats). Lee does a magnificent job in exposing the threat of Satan using top-notch theological sources. Feel free to comment and/or ask questions of Lee. As usual, if you have any specific questions or comments for me, I will reply as always, but it will take me a bit longer to respond this week.

God bless you all, my dear readers---Introibo

Satan: Our Constant Foe
By Lee

Throughout every age, people in some form or another have sought out religion as an answer to their problems. Even to this day we hear a lot about the apocalypse, the Anti-Christ, WWIII, etc. and so the common person can recognize the need for a high power. The problem is when those who seek a religion often get misled into a false one. From there they knock on the wrong doors and ask the wrong people for guidance. Even if a person gets misled it would seem that reason itself with the help of God's grace should be able to help a person be able to identify objective truth when presented, yet as many of us have seen it rather gets laughed to scorn, aggressively attacked, or dismissed without ever looking back into it. Indeed, it is like the story of the man in the gospel who went to hell and saw Abraham's bosom, where the poor man in the past life had entered and as he asks Abraham to warn his brethren so that they would not end up with him, Abraham responds thus, "And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead." (Luke 16:31)  

Is it ill-will? Is it falsely trusting in ones own ability to solve problems? Or is it something more sinister which causes man to frequent his folly? 

The sixth session of the Council of Trent nails it in its decree on justification: "Nevertheless, let those who think themselves to stand, take heed lest they fall, and, with fear and trembling work out their salvation, in labors, in watchings, in alms-deeds, in prayers and oblations, in fastings and chastity: for, knowing that they are born again unto a hope of glory, but not as yet unto glory, they ought to fear for the combat which yet remains with the flesh, with the world, with the devil, wherein they cannot be victorious, unless they be with God's grace, obedient to the Apostle, who says; We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die; but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live."

Of the three-fold combat of man's struggle for salvation, the devil, who is the father of lies, of false religions, and false promises, will be discussed below. 

Is it Certain that the Devil Exists?

According to the book, The Devil, theologian Delaporte answers the question thus: 

To most of our readers this question appears superfluous but we write for everyone, and in an age when people deny the existence of God without being sent to the lunatic asylum. Yes, certainly, there is an Evil Spirit, and even a multitude of evil spirits. For a time, at least in Europe, the devils avoided attracting attention. The philosophy of the eighteenth century had made the grossest materialism fashion able; people became accustomed to believe only what was palpable. Naturally, the Devil agreed to be forgotten, provided God was also forgotten. But materialism is too base, too absurd to last. Faith in God, a moment obscured, shone forth with renewed luster. No sooner it slept than it awoke this strange and terrible actor, banished for a time to the region of fancy, reappeared on the scene, and made himself talked of more than ever. 

But where are the proofs of his existence? 

1. In the unanimous belief of mankind. In the beginning, say, with the Catholic Church, with the Jewish Synagogue, with the heretical and schismatic sects, the traditions of all nations, the Supreme Being created three sorts of beings: material beings, spiritual beings, and man, composed of spirit and matter. Among the pure spirits, several, having revolted against the Creator, lost, by their crime, the sovereign good. Once condemned, they became obstinate in evil, and incited man thereto. The Bible, which often mentions these evil spirits, names their chief Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer it calls themselves bad angels, demons (a word which in the ancient authors sometimes means simply spirits) and devils. 

This belief makes manifest a providential plan so harmonious that it would of itself impress calm right reason. Above the created universe, the infinite spirit, whose thought conceived and whose power created all things. In the universe, all below, beings that reflect, without knowing them, the perfections of the Creator. These beings form an ascensional ladder, from step to step of which beauty goes on ever increasing . All above, beings who not only reflect, but know the perfections of the Supreme Being , and live a life like unto His—a life of intelligence, love, freedom. And, forming the tie between these two orders, humanity, which, by the body, dips into the material world, and, by the soul, enters into the spiritual world. “ In a word, matter— spirit soldered to matter—spirit disengaged from matter; there is a complete whole. These three parts of the universe must not be detached one from the other, as there would then be several universes; all a reconnected together—the material world, the human world, the spiritual world. If spiritual beings remain attached to the Supreme Good, they attract us toward it; if they depart from it, they turn us away from it. 

If, then, any one reason falsely, it is not mankind, for mankind believes in good and bad spirits; it is the individual who admires himself so very much that he can no more understand the possibility of a created being whose perfection exceeds his own. 

2. The belief of mankind is based on the Divine Word itself. For our sacred books speak often of the Devil, and St . John formally affirms not only that he exists, and that sinners are under his influence, but also that “the Son' of God appeared, that He might destroy the works of the Devil.” (Eph. I, chap. III.) 

As every spirit—not excepting our soul, which is not seen by the corporal eye makes itself known by acts which can be attributed only to it, so (as we shall soon see) the demons have a ‘ thousand times manifested their existence by acts which cannot possibly be ascribed either to man, whom they strike , and whose power they exceed, or to God or the good spirits, to whose sanctity they are opposed.

The existence of evil spirits is, therefore certain. The demons are guilty and reprobate spirits. The Manicheans, ancient heretics, audaciously taught the existence of a principle of Evil, eternal as God, the Principle of Good-- of a being thoroughly evil, in perpetual opposition to God. Monstrous error! Good alone is eternal and necessary. Evil is the fall of a being which came forth good from the Creator's hand. When that fall is voluntary, and consequently criminal, it is named sin. God tolerates evil-for a time-in order to offer a glorious field for the exercise of virtue. But it is absurd to imagine that creatures may go on unceasingly insulting the Creator; the hour of justice comes.

Satan is no longer, as modern romancers in religion and philosophy have dreamed, a mere allegorical personification of Sin, as the muse is of poetry or history. From Epicurus and Lucretius to Hugo and Littre, Taine and Renan, Atheists have been almost alone in denying the existence of the devil . Their denial is easily understood. How should the willfully blind, who no longer see even the sun, whose splendor all proclaim, perceive darkened, extinguished stars? But the Atheists and some few Deists are nothing before the Church, humanity, and the innumerable facts collected and attested by history. 

The demons are very real beings, but mere creatures. Originally they made part of the glorious army of the heavens, that is to say, of the angelic hosts, who, in the morning of creation, praised God in gladness, and of whom the army of stars is the magnificent symbol. Like us, but before us, the pure spirits were put to the proof. Stronger and more enlightened than man, the angels who failed in their duty were less excusable than man; hence they were irrevocably deprived of the Divine gifts, and forever separated from the Creator.

A child was asked, “Who created the angels? ” The answer was easy: God. ”But who created the Devil?” The child reflected a while, then exclaimed: God made him an 'angel; he made himself a devil. Without knowing it, that child spoke as did the Church in the first canon of the fourth council of Lateran. 

In what did the crime of the demons consist? That is not precisely known, nor is it necessary that it should be known. According to grave theologians, the future incarnation of the Word was announced to the angels. Lucifer, their chief, refused to humble himself before the future Christ, inferior to him by his human nature, and drew into his rebellion a great number of spirits. Others have thought, with St. Thomas, that Lucifer and his accomplices deemed themselves able, by their own strength, to attain to supernatural bliss, and wished to gain it without the aid of their Creator. What is certain is, that they lost this beatitude for having, in the trial proposed to their free will, taken the haughty part of disobedience...

Are the evil spirits responsible for all the mischief ascribed to them?

Not always. A drunkard swears that the Devil appeared to him, spoke to him, struck him. In reality, the Devil simply reminded him of the tavern; the fumes of the liquor did the rest. A rascal, cleverly availing himself of the credulity of simpletons, gets up for himself the reputation of being a sorcerer, and boasts of having the Devil for his colleague, makes his clients pay for consultations with which Satan has nothing to do — every day our courts of justice condemn such tricks, and exculpate the Devil from a chimerical complicity. But whence comes it that people can, with some truth, attribute to the Devil mischief of which he is not the author? — From his bad reputation, most authentically established.

Humanity, expelled from the terrestrial paradise, under the weight of a condemnation the most terrible; then drowned in the waters of the Deluge; then plunged, with the exception of one small nation divinely protected, into the darkness and abominations of idolatry; "the Word made flesh, crucified; the blood of ten millions shed; the benign mission of the Church constantly obstructed by schisms, heresies, persecutions, and calumnies — there is a very incomplete abridgment of the incontestable works of the evil spirits in the moral and religious order.

In the material order, diabolical action, like that of God and the good angels, is generally veiled under the appearance of events purely natural. The lightning that struck the house in which the children of Job were assembled seemed a purely physical effect: the Holy Scripture teaches us that this time Satan himself directed the electric fluid. One day St. Francis de Sales was blessing a church-yard; a torrent of rain prevented the ceremony. The saint, who was in no wise fainthearted, made an exorcism, and immediately the firmament recovered its serenity. Men have always been convinced that a host of calamities which occur in the world are not mere fortuitous combinations of the physical laws which govern matter. They believe in the indignation, and wrath, and trouble which he sends by evil angels," (Ps. Lxxvii, 49 ;) and, without neglecting physical means of struggling against pestilence and famine, they have recourse to prayer, and events have often proved that this weapon is the most powerful. Many times, after a procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin, a consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the plague suddenly ceases. The materialist sees in this only a chance coincidence; popular sense sees differently, and it is not mistaken.

"It is an impiety," says the learned Gerson, "and an error directly contrary to Holy Writ, to deny that the devils are the authors of many surprising effects. Those, who regard what is told of this as a fable would deserve severe reprehension. . . . Sometimes, even learned men are prone to this error, because they allow their faith to be weakened and the natural lights to be obscured. Their soul, wholly occupied with sensible things, refers all to the body, and cannot raise itself to the spiritual." {De error, circa art mcig,)

Must it be said? The Christians of our times have been subjected to the materialistic atmosphere in which they live. "Without denying diabolical agency, in principle, they are always disposed to deny it in fact. To hear them, one would imagine that, fatigued with sixty centuries of mischievous activity, Satan had really turned hermit. Thus, when, some years ago, it was noised about that the venerable Cure d' Ars had to undergo the external assaults of the invisible enemy, who would believe it? Many ecclesiastics laughed, like the vulgar, at these supposed devilish tricks ! 'But what happened one day? It was at St. Trivier, where a mission was going on. During supper, there was a learned dissertation on the fancies of the good cur6, who eat too little, slept badly, and took the rats for the Devil. But, behold ! at midnight they are all suddenly awoke by a fearful uproar ; the house is all in confusion ; the doors bang, the windows shiver, the walls totter, and seem, by their crackling noise, as though they were going to fall ! In a moment every one is up. They remember that the Cure d' Ars has said, "Thou will not be surprised if you chance to hear some noise to-night." They rush to his room; he is sound asleep. " Get up," they cry, the presbytery is going to fall!" "Oh, I know well what it is,'^ he replies, smiling; "you must go to bed; there is nothing to fear." (See the Life, by Monnin.) Next day, no one laughed at M. Vianney.

Habitually more hidden, and for that reason more perfidious, diabolical agency is but too real; and if humanity were left unaided, it would long ago have . been crushed in an unequal contest.
Transforming Themselves into Angels of Light

Below is a story that can be found on the website which explains how (at the time) a famous nun made a pact with two devils and how for 40 years they through her deceived a great many including those in her convent, kings, theologians etc. An interesting note taken from below was how Sts. Ignatius of Loyola and John of Avila were the few who were not fooled.   

Sister Magdalena of the Cross (Magdalena de la Cruz) was born in Córdoba (Cordova) in Andalusia, Spain in 1487. Named after the St. Mary Magdalene, the one whom Church tradition remembers as the great "..sinner from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons.” (Mark 16:9), and who was also known for her extraordinary repentance. As for herself, Magdalena of the Cross too would one day become an extraordinary mystic, and later a repentant sinner, doing severe penances for her sins. Not even the great Saint Teresa of Avila would ever have as much prestige across Spain in her lifetime as Sr. Magdalena of the Cross! Her (apparent) outstanding piety and the miracles that she performed were known throughout Spain, and even much of Europe. So much so, that even the Emperor Charles V, the sovereign ruler of the Roman and Spanish Empire asked for a piece of the habit of Magdalena of the Cross to wrap around the future Prince Philip II at his birth, to give his royal son the "assistance of a living saint from birth, to envelop him in Divine grace." Incidentally, prince Phillip II later became the King of Spain in 1556.

Little Magdalena's first vision
But for now, little Magdalena is just 5 years old, and she is already known in town for her remarkable devotion, which is out of the ordinary for a girl of her age. Not long after her fifth birthday, she is praying in Church when she hears music of remarkable sweetness. Then a beautiful young man, with thick, black hair appears to her, wearing a mantle so brilliant that she has to close her eyes. Hearing the story, some believe it to be Jesus. News of this event spreads throughout Córdoba, and many want to see little Magdalena.

Sorting out the heavenly apparitions from the demonic ones
The difficulty that we will now have in sorting out Magdalena's early life story is that as with all the mystics and their mystical graces, there is often the influence and appearence of the demonic along with the heavenly apparitions. Like in the case of the Biblical Job, God allows the devil to tempt and even attack the mystics, to test their faith, love and devotion. This is the case with most every mystic. And with Magdalena, the task of discernement of her obvious mystical gifts and graces is even more difficult in her early years, because there definitely was a period where Magdalena demonstrated authentic piety and deep devotion, with the sincerity and simplicity of a child. But we know that she made a pact with the devil, so there must have been a point where the heavenly apparitions slowed or even ceased altogether, and the diabolic apparitions took over.

But for now, little Magdalena is living a simple life with her family who were poor artisans, and while Magdalena remains of exemplary modesty and conduct, the visions continue, one after another, and as time goes on this attracts the attention of many; so much so that one day she flees her home to take refuge in a nearby cave, where she once again falls into ecstasy. When she awakens, she discovers that she has been miraculously transported back to her bed by her guardian angel.

Miraculous cures
Soon, a person whom she believes to be Jesus appears to her and asks her to somewhat moderate her asceticism, so as not to compromise her fragile childhood health. He informs her that a great destiny awaits her, and that she will need her strength. She flies to the church to thank Jesus and on the way meets a man with a severe limp who asks her to lend him her hand to climb the Church steps. He has hardly climbed a few steps when he stands erect and with great surprise and excitement he dashes through the whole town crying out that he is healed!

Magdalena herself goes into Church then falls into a deep ecstasy. Soon, someone comes in looking for her and realises that she is seeing a vision. Looking closely at her eyes, she sees in the reflection in her eyes the heavens and what seems to be the Holy Trinity surrounded by the Communion of Saints. Soon afterwards, like Jesus after the cure of the blind man, Magdalena is subjected to all sorts of interrogations to discover any subterfuge, none of which can apparently be found. Not long afterwards, a mute person also allegedly receives his speech through her intercession.

Magdalena attempts to crucify herself
In 1497 at the age of ten, Magdalena is already quite beautiful, and in her purity she is very cautious to hide herself under long black dresses and skirts. Even so, she still finds herself too beautiful, and one day for penance she tries to crucify herself on the wall of her bedroom. She starts by nailing her two feet, then her left hand. Blood flows, and she faints from the atrocious pain. Her flesh tears and, falling heavily onto a chest, she breaks two ribs. Her parents call the doctor and he bandages all of her nail wounds, yet she is burning with desire to suffer terribly for the reparation of sins, and she repeatedly takes off the bandages, so as to suffer more. But this soon makes her very ill.

On Easter Saturday, 1497, Magdalena is bedridden and seems to be dying, probaly because of infection from the wounds of her failed crucifixion. At midnight, she lets out a great scream, sits up on her bed, once more rips off her dressings, saying that she is healed. She says that it is Jesus himself, who has just appeared to her and has cured her.

A prolonged fast and her first Holy Communion
Three months before her First Holy Communion, Magdalena seemingly stops eating. The pleadings of her poor parents make no difference; she fasts right up until the Sunday of her first Holy Communion, surprisingly without losing her healthy appearance. On the day of the ceremony, at the precise moment of consecration, she lets out another cry and prostrates herself for a long time. When she exits the church, she explains that the Lord Himself put the Eucharist in her mouth, without her needing to approach the priest.

Wounds seemingly heal overnight and the story of two stubby fingers
At sixteen, Magdalena contunes to astound many with her apparent extraordinary devotion and her remarkable desire to make reparation for sin. Many see her as a living saint- for who else but a saint could do such extraordinary penances? When she whips herself to bleeding point while doing penance, her wounds are miraculously healed the next day to everyones great surprise. She is healthy, and everything about her seems wholesome, except two fingers which have not grown like the others: at sixteen, they are no larger than the size of a child's pinky. Some say that these two fingers are those that Christ touched one night in her childhood, during an apparition.

Magdalena becomes a Franciscan nun
In 1504, at age 17, Magdalena at last obtains what seems to be the great desire of her life: to become a Franciscan nun- a spiritual daughter of St. Francis and St. Clare. Because of her reputation for holiness, she is joyfully admitted to the Franciscan convent of Saint Elizabeth of the Angels in Cordova (Convento de Santa Isabel de los Ángeles), and she soon edifies and inspires the admiration of many of the nuns.

There are however some "red flags" though. She is seemingly not too discrete about her spiritual life and merits; she inflicts severe mortifications upon herself, carries a heavy cross all around the convent, kisses her companions’ feet, and she seemingly stops eating completely, apparently living only on Holy Communion. All of these facts are cause for some concern, but she does seem very devout and is willing to do even the most menial and unwanted tasks, so her "extravagances" are for the most part downplayed, at least for now.

After a few years as a postulant, in 1509, at age 22, she already has a reputation for sainthood, and because of this it is thought prudent to let her take her vows alone. The event is greatly anticipated and well prepared. All of the nobles seek to obtain a good place in the church and to add even more glory to the great day, the Archbishop himself has his throne covered by a dais of richly embroidered velvet.

At last, the day of the ceremony arrives. Magdalena will now be known as Sister Magdalene of the Cross, in memory of the heroic crucifixion of her youth. The ceremony begins and she comes forward and kneels outside the sanctuary, and waits to hear the Cardinal’s speech. But rather than exhort the novice to the practice of christian virtue and piety, as is usual, he publicly asks her for her prayers and protection in support of himself and the diocese.

The miraculous dove
Afterwards at the Kyrie Eleison, something very remarkable happens: a dove, which seems to descend straight from the high catherdral ceiling, catches the eye of everyone. The dove lands on Magdalena's shoulder, and seems to speak into her ear. Afterwards it ascends up to a parapet, and remains there as if watching until the end of the ceremony. Afterwards it flies outside of the Church and those who run out to follow it see it rise almost striaght up, and for so long, that the sky finally seems to close over it. The news of these events spread like wildfire across the country and even spills outside its borders.

As the weeks and months progress after her solemn profession, Sr. Magdalene de la Cruz (as she is know known as) soon exhibits extraordinary faculties. Without ever going outside the walls, she seemingly knows many things that happens in Cordoba and elsewhere, particularly in the neighbouring Franciscan convent, and also in the aristocratic and noble homes in Cordoba. As in the past she continues to go into ecstasy often, and if she happens to be out of her cell while doing so, her companions carry her to her cell then withdraw discretely. Sometimes their curiosity gets the better of them and they listen not far away and often hear a gentle muttering of unknown words and also moans of suffering too.

Her fame continues to spreads across Spain and abroad
As can be expected, the gossip around all of these remarkable events swells and continues to spill outside of Spain. Correspondence floods the convent; people from all over petitioning Magdalena of the Cross for her prayers and spiritual help. Generous donations pour in also, and Magdalena’s convent is buzzing like a beehive with activity.

Magdalena's prophesies
It is at this time that another prodigious mystical gift of Sr. Magdalena appears: she can seemingly predict the future. In 1515, she announces the death of King Ferdinand for the following year, which comes to pass as foretold, and also the regency of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros over the kingdom of Castile. In sign of gratitude, Cardinal Jiménez has a beautiful vermilion ostensory given to her, which increases the admiration and devotion of her fellow sisters and others even more.

An unexpected and remarkable pregnancy on the day of the Annunciation
On March 25, 1518, the day of the Feast of the Annunciation, Magdalena discreetly tells her Abbess some news which fills the pious woman with great confusion and perplexity--Magdalena states that on the preceding night, that is, the solemn Vigil of the Annunciation, she had conceived the child Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus Magdalene of the Cross, the shining light of the convent of Saint Elizabeth of the Angels, is pregnant.

Forseeing the enormous scandal that such news would inevitably provoke, the Abbess orders Magdalena to keep absolutely quiet about it for now, while she prays for guidence as to how to proceed. As the days pass, the Abbess discretely watches Magdalena and, after a few weeks, she is obliged to bow to the obvious evidence, for Magdalena's abdomen is noticeably rounding out, and the moment is going to come when they will no longer be able to hide this "work" of the Holy Spirit....or of nature?

The nuns are divided concerning Magdalena's alleged miraculous pregnancy
The nuns are all informed of the situation, and soon the convent is divided into two camps. On the one side, there are those who doubt the miraculous conception, some perhaps because they feel a hidden envy for Magdalena. Others because it is such a extraordinary thing that has never happened outside of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and there is nothing in Sacred Scripture that would point to such a second birth of Jesus into this world.

At this point most do not yet actually doubt her sainthood, however all these extraordinary things are without a doubt cause for careful discernment. And then there is all the generous donations that have been flowing in in honor of the "living saint", and the countless individuals who request her intercession and prayers...all of this tends to relegate the other sisters to a lesser position in the convent, and causes them to feel somewhat inadequate in their spirituality and the practice of virtue. Certainly many of them accuse themselves of jealousy to their confessor, and must have harbored some envy towards her. And so to some, for various reasons this supernatural pregnancy appears inconceivable, most importantly because such a miracle is not announced in the Holy Scriptures.

On the other side, there are those, also numerous, who say that God works in mysterious ways, and that the Most High has been pouring all sorts of extraordinary graces on his humble servant for many years. Understandably they cannot fathom how she could have possibly stained her purity; she who is so seemingly devout and pious, and besides she never leaves the convent grounds. To that, the doubters reply that she receives her confessor alone, and also that the bars on the convent fence are so widely spaced as to allow the passage of a much more cumbersome being than the Holy Spirit.

However, a vow of silence is agreed upon by both camps, however some cannot help themselves and soon the extraordinary news is spreading through all of Cordova and abroad. But how does Magdalena respond? She treats all of the news and insinuations with absolute and complete indifference.

Seemingly even more devout in the practice of virtue, she redoubles the severity of her penances, walking barefoot on pieces of broken glass and lashing her back and shoulders with instruments of severe mortification, along with wearing a rough cilice discipline.

The Archbishop orders a medical examination of Sr. Magdalena
Hearing the news, the Archbishop of Seville sends three experienced matron "midwives" to examine Magdalena. Having very carefully examined her, they announce that while it is indeed true that the nun is pregnant, it is also very much a fact that her virginity is completely intact and unquestionable. Prayers of thanksgiving explode in all the churches and throughout the land, and inside the convent the doubters and gossipers are reduced to utter silence and penances for their apparent doubts .

On Christmas Eve, 1518, Magdalena confirms that she will very soon give birth. A little house at the end of the garden is prepared for her, for in a vision her guardian angel recommends that she give birth alone, so as to suffer more without any human assistance. Magdalena remains locked up in the little house for three days, during which time the whole community remains in prayer. The story that Magdalena tells when she comes out is absolutely prodigious.

She relates that during Christmas night, at midnight, she gives birth to a magnificent baby who radiates so much light that she can see as if it were high noon. The cold air of her chamber is suddenly miraculously heated and the divine child doesn’t suffer at all from the cold.

During this time, strangely Magdalena’s hair begins to grow very fast and, from crow black that it was, it changes to the brightest blond, with its long length allowing her to swaddle the infant child in it, and keep him warm in the softest of tunics.

As proof of the miracle, she cuts a few of her blond curls before her hair turns back to normal. The nuns then compete for a few of the miraculous hairs to keep as precious relics.

Continuing with the story of the remarkable birth, Sr. Magdalene de la Cruz states that on the morning after Christmas she found herself alone, the beautiful little child gone, but with her breast chapped from suckling him, along with all of the stigmata of recent delivery still on her body. Soon the matron midwives are sent again to check on the veracity of these facts and to verify that Magdalena’s virginity has not suffered from the event. A solemn 'Te Deum' is then sung in the cathedral and donations flow in like never before. But in truth this entire event was orchestrated and perpetrated by the devil, in particular by two demons named Balban and Patorrio, as we will soon discover......

A few people continue to gossip, however, so in an attempt to put a definitive end to the calumnies an exorcist monk arrives at the convent one morning, while the nun is in ecstasy. He approaches her and pushes two long needles in her body, one into her foot, and the other into her hand. The needles penetrate deeply, yet Magdalena remains perfectly insensitive to them, without any reaction whatsoever, which confirms in the minds of many that her ecstasies are authentic. When the needles are are withdrawn, a little stream of blood flows from the wounds.

Her fast from food is subjected to a stringent test
In spite of this proof, Sr. Magdalena is subjected to another test, this time concerning her abstinence from food; a fast which she allegedly has been carrying out for eleven years. For, it was being insinuated that certain novices were secretly bringing her food.

So the Abbess then requests that a vigilant guard of two monks from the nearby Franciscan monastery be positioned at the entrance to Magdalena's cell with a 24 hour watch; the two monks taking turns with others in a rotating schedule. Additionally, she even orders that the window shutters of the chamber be nailed shut. After a few days, it is discovered that Magdalena has suddenly disappeared. They look for her everywhere, and soon find her in the completely opposite part of the garden, asleep near a fountain. The monks assure the abbess that they have not relaxed their surveillance for an instant. For her part, Sr. Magdalena reveals that it is Saint Francis himself who transported her to this place. Of course nobody is able to give any explanation for this prodigy, and it is concluded that this is but another miracle in the extraordinary life of Sister Magdalena of the Cross.

A Cathedral is built in greater part through the donations given to Sister Magdalena. 
At this point, Sr. Magdalena now has a greater prestige than the Abbess herself. She is consulted for all the major decisions that need to be taken by the community. Her advice is even sought from outside, by great and small alke, and soon Magdalena and the other nuns who have befriended her are better informed of what is happening in the city than the Archbishop himself.

In 1523, the Archbishop is in need of a new Cathederal, and because of the abundant donations sent to Sr. Magdalena her convent of Saint Elizabeth of the Angels is the richest in Spain, and is able to furnish by far the greatest part of the money needed for its construction. Because of this, Sr. Magdalena is consulted on the new cathedral’s appearance.

Sr. Magdalena de la Cruz is elected Abbess
And so it is that for twenty-nine years Magdalena's notoriety has grown in proportion to her alleged virtues, and she has led an existence which, although full of sometimes astounding events, has contributed for the most part in a positive way to the convent’s enrichment through her practice of virtue and the apparent signs from heaven which inspire the faithful. Always seemingly pious and disposed to sacrifice, she inspires and fascinates the Spanish high clergy, and many feel that she should have a higher position in the convent more suited to her merits. It is suggested that she should become the Abbess, since as time passes the current Abbess is becoming infirm. In a show of alleged humility, Magdalena protests and she uses her poor administrative abilities as a reason, stating: “Let them elect Sister Isabella of the Holy Trinity instead.”

However, many of her fellow nuns want her as abbess so much that, on February 17, 1533 Magdalena is elected Abbess, in presence of the Order’s Superior, by forty-four votes as opposed to the seven given to Isabella of the Holy Trinity.

The new abbess Magdalena encourages severe mortifications and penances
With Magdalena now in charge, in the beginning life in the convent hardly changes, except Mother Magdalena seems to have a strong penchant for the practice of severe penances, and she exhorts her religious sisters to do likewise. In doing so, the new Abbess sometimes provokes very difficult scenes.

And so it is that during Confession the sisters, by hypocrisy or fear of too difficult penances, now usually only accuse themselves of small faults. Hearing of this, Mother Magdalena enters into holy wrath which soon causes unspeakable fear into her sisters. She orders them to admit to more severe sins, and the poor nuns become frightened by the severity of the abbess. Some burst into tears, and there are a couple of others who astonishingly go into a sort of semi-possession, rolling on the floor and arching their bodies, before slowly returning back to normal.

To reprimand the more guilty ones for their alleged spiritual weaknesses, the Abbess orders some to crawl on their knees in the refectory and make the sign of the cross with their tongues on the shoes of all the assembled nuns.

Soon, the confessions of the nuns are more to Mother Magdalena's liking, supposedly reveling the sisters true state of sin. Penances are now measured to the alleged gravity of the faults, for according to Abbess Magdalena, it is necessary to totally expiate sins, and to succeed in this endeavor the common cord whip disciplines are replaced with iron tipped ones.

As for the manner and the times in which the discipline (i.e.- scourge or lash/whip) should be applied, the Abbess modernizes it. Before, when the occasion came for extreme penance and use of the discipline (i.e. -scourge or lash/whip), the candles were extinguished, so that no one else could see the nuns who chose to use this form of severe mortification. It was the nuns own choice to do so, and it was done in darkness so that no one might know who is choosing to discipline themselves. This is to preserve the nuns humility.

But from now on, Mother Magdalena orders that the candles are to remain lit, and the nuns are given all the necessary time to openly whip themselves in the performance of bodily mortification and penance, in the full light and presence of the other nuns. According to her, the sight of the self inflicted penance should be an encouragement for all of them to likewise do the same, or be exposed to the indignation of others, along with provoking interior feelings of inadequacy and spiritual weakness and discouragement amongst many of the nuns. Knowing that Mother Magdalena was being guided by the devil at this time (which we shall soon see), it is assumed that these extraordinary penances were an attempt by the devil to instill spiritual pride in some of the nuns, and discouragement and despair in others

Gone now are the "little penances" consisting of begging food from each table; for according to Mother Magdalena a soul with pride can submit to that easily enough. For according to her it is severe mortification which is the salt of true penitence. The nuns are now encouraged to remain on their knees on boards garnished with rounded iron nail heads; they are encouraged to wear cilices or belts with small iron spikes pointing inwards and are encouraged to stretched out in doorways so that the others nuns can walk upon them and some wear a crown made of thorns. Yet these extreme severities seemingly do not harm the outward devotion of most of the community to their new Abbess. She is twice re-elected with the majority of the votes. No one dares, it seems, to question her authority and power within the community.

Mother Magdalena relaxes other rules of the Order
Yet, surprisingly, the abbess Magdalena of the Cross relaxes some long-standing rules of the Order that have existed for centuries. This of course causes concern first and foremost amongst the other Franciscan communities in her order, and also with the Archbishop and the priests within the local Church itself. Yet, as in the past, her reputation for holiness goes before her, and she is allowed to relax many rules of the Order within her own convent.

St Francis allegedly appears to her, and dispenses her from Confession
Not only does Magdalena on the one hand encourage severe penances and mortifications, and on the other hand she relaxes some of the rules of the Order, but now apparently because of her "saintliness" Saint Francis, the founder of her Order allegedly appears to her one night and dispenses her from having to go to Confession in the future.

And for the confessions of her fellow nuns, she explains that it is an insult to them to be separated from their confessor by a grille. In her opinion, they are to sit face to face with the confessor. This causes quite a stir amongst not only the sisters, but also with the priests themselves, as such a practice is unheard of throughout Catholic Spain at that time.

Additionally, Mother Magdalena of the Cross authorizes the sisters to no longer fast on Fridays "so as to be able to support even greater mortifications". It is the belief of many of her fellow sisters that this great reform of the Franciscan Order that she is undertaking will bring new prosperity to the convent, and to the Order itself. It is no wonder then that within a couple of decades the great Spanish reformer and mystic, the Carmelite St. Teresa of Avila would face such heavy opposition to the reforms that she was endeavoring to instill within the Carmelite Order in Spain only a few short years later.

Soon afterwards, Mother Magdalena states that on the previous evening, a dead woman, (presumably a soul from purgatory?) had come to confess to her. She immediately wants the young nuns and novices to confess to her at night in her cell. This most recent innovation of course causes even more murmurs and doubts, particularly from Isabella of the Holy Trinity who still hasn’t forgotten being beaten by Magdalena in the 1533 elections, and on whom Magdalena (as Abbess) has inflicted the severest humiliations upon ever since.

Mother Magdalena receives the admiration of many top dignitaries
Yet, amidst these troubling new reforms and directives from Mother Magdalena, the admiration that she receives from the greats of her time seem to easily blunt any criticisms– for Queen Isabella of Spain herself sends Mother Magdalena her portrait and beseeches Magdalena for her prayers, and also the Archbishop of Seville often writes to her, and in his letters he calls her "the happiest creature in the world," presumably because of all the alleged heavenly graces that she supposedly receives.

The noblest ladies, while pregnant and nearing their deliveries would send the layette to be blessed by her, as did the Empress Isabel before the birth of Philip II. When, in 1535, the Emperor Charles V was starting from Barcelona for the expedition to Tunis, he sent his banner to C6rdova that she might bestow on it her blessing. Cardinal Manrique, the inquisitor-general, and Giovanni di Reggio, the papal nuncio, made pilgrimages to visit her, and it is said that even the pope sent to ask her prayers for the Christian Republic, although it should be said that this was often a common practice of the time for prioresses such as Mother Magdalena who were considered devout, for since they were in charge of their respective convents, the pope and the high prelates would often request their prayers in union with the sisters in their convents, for the benefit of the Church or their local dioceses.

The doubts about Mother Magdalena begin to mount
And so it is that the revelations and prodigies that direct and guide Mother Magdalena seem to cause her to make decisions that are more and more contestable and disconcerting. And now once again she reveals more troubling revelations one morning:

“The Holy Virgin has appeared to me and led me about the corridors last night. She smiled at you, Sister" and then gazing at one of those who had been opposing her "but she only gave a long look of scorn to you.”

Understandably, these revelations strongly displease those who are the victims. Their protestations join those of the families who, outside, see their daughters refused entrance into the convent, because for example one of their ancestors were perhaps Jewish. Mother Magdalena of course receives her information from the Holy Virgin Herself, but in the families, indignation and anger provoke the growing attitude of doubt concerning the supposed heavenly guidance recieved by the abbess.

The 1542 elections bring a surprising result
During the next elections for abbess, Mother Magdalena receives only a handful of votes, and Isabella of the Holy Trinity is elected by a large margin. In reparation (and perhaps some retaliation for her own humiliations?) that same evening, she obliges Magdalena to make as many signs of the cross on the floor with her tongue as there are tiles in the refectory.

In the middle of this, Magdalena the former Abbess falls into ecstasy. Always when this would happen in the past, the sisters would carry her to her cell. Now, she is left where she is in the refectory for a good part of the night. After the "ecstasy" she finally returns to her cell on her own.

With doubts continuing to mount, Magdalena is again suspected of receiving food clandestinely, as she is still said to be fasting on a daily basis for over thirty years now.

Add to this, one day, a little iron box containing Communion wafers is brought to the Abbess. This box, found under Magdalena’s bed, seems to prove that the miracle of spontaneous Communion, repeated many times in the past, has been just a trick.

A demonic presence is detected
In 1543, she falls gravely ill. This seems a good occasion for the Abbess to oblige her to make a general confession of her entire life. But at the moment when the confessor puts his stole on in preparation for her confession, Magdalena immediately goes into convulsions. The priest suspects a demonic presence, so he sends for a doctor whom he knows to be also well versed in the spiritual life. He examines Magdalena and notices that during one of her ecstasies, Magdalena’s eyes do not remained fixed, which is one of the distinctive marks of real ecstasies. However, he stabs her with a needle and obtains no reaction. But when he wisely dips the needle in holy water, Magdalena lets out a moan. This immediately draws suspicion and concern that Sr. Magdalena may be infested or even possessed by a demon.

As time progresses, Magdalena's illness continues to get worse. Seemingly out of character, she is now worried, and often asks the doctor to keep her informed on the evolution of her illness. One December day, she hears:

“You are dying. You will not see another Christmas.”

Greatly anguished, Magdalena suddenly twists on her bed and then rises up and lets out mysterious words:

“1544!...The forty years as announced!; I am a cursed dog! Take me to Hell!”

Then she falls back into her bed and begins uttering revolting blasphemies before suddenly being taken from her bed by an invisible force and held in mid-air. She then falls heavily onto the bed several times, but apparently without hurting herself.

After some reflection, the Abbess decides to have a very old and experienced priest, Rev. Don Juan of Cordova called in, and she asks him to examine, and if need be exorcise Magdalena immediately. Not long after visiting Magdalena the old man looks at her and orders:

“I order you in the Name of Jesus to leave this poor woman and dare to say your name!”

The demon first lets out a terrible cry in which the name “Balban” is recognized. Later during exorcisms it was discovered that another demon named "Patorrio" was also influencing her. The demonic laughing intensifies and the words uttered are horrible. The demon glories in all the disorder that he has been able to cause over so many years in the convent, and swears that he will return...

Thus the Rev. Don Juan of Cordova is able to establish at least a solid case of demonic infestation, and perhaps even possession, and the news spreads first among the nuns, and soon afterwards amongst the clergy and townspeople of Cordova, and later throughout the whole of Spain. The following day however, the Provincial of the Franciscans goes in person to the dying nun’s bedside. He remains there for several hours and receives a complete confession, of which he says nothing.

Yet all those who meet him afterwards notice that he is carrying a very heavy burden, a frightful secret; a nightmare which has been a whole lifetime; the lifetime of the “saint” Magdalena of the Cross, the diabolic Abbess of Cordova.

Sister Magdalena of the Cross admits to a 40 year pact with the devil
Next, an Inquisitor is sent to investigate the thorny matter by the express order of Cardinal Juan Pardo de Tavera, the Primate of Spain. He is much younger than the Rev. Don Juan of Cordova and he inspires her with confidence. She reveals to him that the beautiful dark-haired young man who appeared to her at the age of five was in fact the devil. He had promised her fame and the respect of everyone, if she would consent to obey him always.

It is also Satan who leaves his mark by touching her two fingers which from then forward stop growing. And it is also he who teaches her the subterfuge of the wafers, and he assists her with the simulation of ecstasies. Her cries in the night are in no way inspired by the ecstatic love that she has for the Creator, but by the demon’s evil caresses.

Upon hearing such disconcerting admissions, the Inquisitor is horrified and almost instinctively he makes the sign of the Cross upon himself. Immediately, Sr. Magdalena starts to insult the priest with vile and abhorrent words. She then begins to roll around the floor in her cell, and bites anything she can, while striking indecent poses and mimicking the vile copulations that she has performed with Balban for nearly forty years.

Because he is an experienced Inquisitor, the good monk had asked the older, more experienced nuns to stay in the corridor to write down the fallen Magdalena's words, so as to be able to document and later serve as witnesses. From here, Sr. Magdalena de la Cruz' case is well documented and quickly prepared.

The Exorcisms of Sister Magdalena begin
During the extended course of interrogations that were part of the ongoing exorcism during which Balban is very reluctantly dislodged from Magdalena, it is discovered that the most wicked and hideous means were used to undermine Magdalena’s soul as a child. It was believed that he originally chose her because she was in fact very pious and devoted to God, and so in his terrible wickedness he earnestly sought to despoil God of one of His favorites. But, we shall soon see how God wins triumphantly in the end.

During the ongoing exorcisms it is learned that when Magdalena became a young adult, the demon Balban ceased to appear to her as a beautiful young man, as he had been doing since she was age five. One night, when the young girl was waiting for him as usual, he presented himself to her in the form of a shimmering mist which condenses and takes the form of a very tall man with long hair, who radiates a reddish light.

She cries out “Jesus”, but this, of course, greatly displeases the demon, who lifts her with his burning hand and drops her on the ground. She is then forced to contemplate this horrid creature who now rises before her in a horrible metamorphosis, from a man into a vile beast.

The infernal creature is repulsive and the possessed nun describes in horror his wide, flat nose, his twisted horns and his toothless mouth. He commanded her to immediately become his wife, and he assures her that she will not lose her virginity, and he promises that her apparent sainthood would only grow in measure with the supposed unimaginable pleasures that she would enjoy with him. Lacking in spiritual fortitude; vanquished, Magdalena then gives in, and it is again the dark-haired, and very attractive young man that she now receives in her.

Next she confesses that it was also the devil who came to feed her in secret, and that she had really been pregnant by him. She had been told by him that she risked nothing if she followed his instructions. It was to play a joke by troubling the minds of the nuns and the Spanish clergy and laity that he had made her pregnant with an monstrous caterpillar, which escaped from her body with a loud wind that famous Christmas night, before changing into Balban, and re-possessing her with unprecedented vigor.

A few holy and well known individuals were not fooled
And so it is that the whole of Christendom discovers with horror that she of whom most everyone thought was God’s most-beloved, was in fact the most-beloved creature of the devil. Yet some of Sr. Magdalena's contemporaries were not so easily fooled by her false mysticism, like the great St Ignatius Loyola who was incredulous and in 1541, it is said that he severely reproved Martin de la Santa Cruz, who endeavored to win him over towards Sr. Magdalena, for accepting exterior signs without seeking for the true interior ones; and the great St John of Avila (who is soon to be declared a Doctor of the Church) was also very skeptical and, when he was in Cordova, he was discreetly denied access to her.

Sr. Magdalena of the Cross becomes like her namesake, St. Mary Magdalene and deeply repents of the demons that were possessing her
As the Scriptures relate, Jesus had cast out seven horrible demons that were possessing St. Mary Magdalene,(Mark 16:9) and she became known as the great, repentant sinner. Tradition tells us that she spent the rest of her life in a cave making penance and reparation for her manifold sins, and she became a most extraordinary Saint. In fact, Jesus chose St Mary Magdalene to be one of the first witnesses to His glorious Resurrection, as Holy Scripture tells us.

The judgement of the Religious Tribunal
As for the once renowned Sr. Magdelena de la Cruz, now fully exorcised and free of the demons who are forced to reveal that they are leaving forever the body and soul of the possessed woman, she is then judged by the religious tribunal on May 3, 1546.

The Grand Inquisitor of the religious tribunal is Cardinal Jimenez, now the Primate of Spain, appointed by Isabella of Castile herself, and it is because of this that Magdalena is transferred to the Alcazar prisons to be further interrogated.

The demons Balban and Patorrio receive the majority of the blame
Sr. Magdalena is now sixty-one years old and she is extraordinarily repentant for all that she has done and she begs the court to put a rapid end to her torments and deliver her to the purifying flames. The judges however decide otherwise. Because of her great age, her sincere confessions and the quality of her repentance her deserved sentence is greatly mitigated. And rightfully so, they consider her to be a pitiful victim of the demon and perhaps they remember well the days of her glory when they too had exalted in having what was believed to be such an extraordinary saint in their midst. And so the inquisitors place a large portion of the blame on the demons Balban and Patorrio, most especially Balban, and not so much on Magdalena herself, since she was just an inexperienced youth when the demon(s) began influencing her. In short, they feel that as a youth Magdalena was heavily intimidated by the demon, so they conclude that her culpability is greatly lessened because of her age at the time.

The Catholic Church relies on the principle that divine works are eternal and infinite. Those of the demon, on the other hand, are always limited in time and space. If Magdalena confesses, it is because, in 1544, her pact with the devil has arrived at its end. It is fear of Hell, as she says herself, which precipitates her revelations. And it is also God who in His infinite love and mercy inspires all of her admissions, and inspires and guides her deep repentance. And it is God who assures her that she will live if she confesses. She would become even more a heroine in repentance than she was in false virtue and fame.

So the judges decide that Sr. Magdalena is to be led to the scaffold with a gag in her mouth, a Spartan cord around her neck, and a candle in her hand. She is to remain exposed there for all to see for the time period of a High Mass, and that she should then abjure her manifold errors. For three months, she must keep her face exposed and cannot wear the black veil, and she must always walk last in all of the movements of convent life.

She abjures and repents in tears, in front of the Cathedral that she had had raised thanks to her deceptions in union with the two demons. She is also ordered to go to a different Franciscan convent in Burgos, where she lives long years or repentance and expiation without ever falling again into the slightest error.

At a young age, Magdalena succumbed to a great pride and a false demonic promise that offered her prestige and power. But the great and small of her time were all later sure that her final deep humility and repentance had made her quite worthy of Paradise. Sister Magdalena de la Cruz died in 1560 at the age of 74.

Today, the name of this Sister Magdalena of the Cross is all but forgotten and her remarkable story is practically unknown. However, the great lawyer and writer, Maurice Garcon, for whom Magdalena is an important historical figure, documents how she was in fact very well-known throughout Christendom in the 16th and 17th centuries, and how many of the theological and demonological treatises make precise and detailed references to her case. In fact during this time period the many facts presented in theological books concerning demonic influences are illustrated by the statements and documents drawn from her trial.

And it is from the transcript of her trial that Maitre Maurice Garcon drew up his remarkable book on her life, using the transcript from her trial. Louis Pauwels used Maitre Garcon's book (among other references) for his resume of Sr Magdalena's life.

According to him there are only two copies of this very precious manuscript in the world, one in London and the other in Paris.

The important lessons learned through the extraordinary case of Magdalena of the Cross 
Magdalena had arrived so high in her reputation for sainthood that she had been the counseller of kings, emperors, and above all, of the great Church dignitaries. Yet the trial’s conclusions about this are very interesting. The outcome of the long and detailed trial by the judges concludes that in the end the only real dupe in this affair is the devil, himself. His subterfuges have turned against him: by intimidating and perverting Magdalena, he has in the end only reinforced the faith of the people, and she who had been submissive to him for so long, gloriously escapes from his wicked rule in the end, through the power and mercy of God. And Truth overcomes the devils lies and the deceptions that he inspires through his demons.
Discernment of Spirits

Perhaps a good remedy to meditate on is St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises concerning how to discern spirits. If It worked for him regarding the above story of Sr. Magdalena, than it should work for those who are serious in the spiritual life. His lists of rules are as follows: 

First Rule. It is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on. Of this latter it is proper to fight against the spiritual gladness and consolation, bringing apparent reasons, subtleties and continual fallacies. 

Second Rule. It belongs to God our Lord to give consolation to the soul without preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of His Divine Majesty. I say without cause: without any previous sense or knowledge of any object through which such consolation would come, through one’s acts of understanding and will. 

Third Rule. With cause, as well the good Angel as the bad can console the soul, for contrary ends: the good Angel for the profit of the soul, that it may grow and rise from good to better, and the evil Angel, for the contrary, and later on to draw it to his damnable intention and wickedness. 

Fourth Rule. It is proper to the evil Angel, who forms himself under the appearance of an angel of light, to enter with the devout soul and go out with himself: that is to say, to bring good and holy thoughts, conformable to such just soul, and then little by little he aims at coming out drawing the soul to his covert deceits and perverse intentions. 

Fifth Rule. We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens it or disquiets or disturbs the soul, taking away its peace, tranquility and quiet, which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our profit and eternal salvation. 

Sixth Rule. When the enemy of human nature has been perceived and known by his serpent’s tail and the bad end to which he leads on, it helps the person who was tempted by him, to look immediately at the course of the good thoughts which he brought him at their beginning, and how little by little he aimed at making him descend from the spiritual sweetness and joy in which he was, so far as to bring him to his depraved intention; in order that with this experience, known and noted, the person may be able to guard for the future against his usual deceits. 

Seventh Rule. In those who go on from good to better, the good Angel touches such soul sweetly, lightly and gently, like a drop of water which enters into a sponge; and the evil touches it sharply and with noise and disquiet, as when the drop of water falls on the stone. And the above-said spirits touch in a contrary way those who go on from bad to worse. The reason of this is that the disposition of the soul is contrary or like to the said Angels. Because, when it is contrary, they enter perceptibly with clatter and noise; and when it is like, they enter with silence as into their own home, through the open door. 

Eighth Rule. When the consolation is without cause, although there be no deceit in it, as being of God our Lord alone, as was said; still the spiritual person to whom God gives such consolation, ought, with much vigilance and attention, to look at and distinguish the time itself of such actual consolation from the following, in which the soul remains warm and favored with the favor and remnants of the consolation past; for often in this second time, through one’s own course of habits and the consequences of the concepts and judgments, or through the good spirit or through the bad, he forms various resolutions and opinions which are not given immediately by God our Lord, and therefore they have need to be very well examined before entire credit is given them, or they are put into effect.


We live in a time where disorder, confusion, and wickedness flood the earth, just as pope Pius XII predicted would happen after his reign. It is also note-worthy that from the eyes of the world, this month (October), as it does every year is preparing for the glorification the devil's favorite holiday, Halloween. Who needs the devil to transform himself into and angel of light when the world is so lost that it already embraces abomination, blasphemy, apostasy, and eternal death without putting up a fight? For those who have the true faith and who are in the true Church, beware of your enemy who goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and add some St. Michael prayers, such as his Chaplet, to your daily routine.