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April 30, 2024 42 mins

CW: murder, gore.

Sister Virgina (born Marianna) had made a terrible choice in secret lovers. When a young secular boarder at the convent where she was a nun threatened to expose her illicit relationship with a neighboring nobleman, the man killed the young boarder. Together they tried to cover up the crime, but there would be no way for Marianna to run from her sins forever.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Noble Blood, a production of iHeartRadio and Grim
and Mild from Aaron Manky. Listener discretion advised. Hey, this
is Dana Schwartz, host of the show. Thank you so
much for listening. Just a tiny bit of housekeeping before
we begin. There is Noble Blood merch. The link is
available in the episode description. You can also follow the

(00:23):
show on Patreon. Subscribe for access to a weekly bonus
podcast series where we recap episodes of the television show
Rain about Mary, Queen of Scott's, and I also put
episode scripts there. And it's also just a great community,
So that's great. And if you're in Los Angeles, this
is very, very exciting. The paperback copies of two of

(00:47):
my books, Anatomy A Love Story and Immortality A Love Story,
a duology, are finally coming out. And the paperback release
is going to be Thursday, May twenty third, six pm
at the bookstore Show Volliers on Larchmont. So if you're
in Los Angeles and you're a listener, absolutely come by.
I would love to see you celebrate the books. It's

(01:09):
going to be a really fun time. The Convent of
Santa Margharita was buzzing with excitement. It was July twenty ninth,
sixteen o six, and as the nuns woke up and
began preparing for the day, not even the sweltering, oppressive

(01:31):
heat could dampen their enthusiasm for one of the most
important days in any convent's calendar. Election day. Elections were
incredibly significant moments for a convent. Eligible nuns had the
opportunity to vote for or run for a variety of

(01:52):
positions pertaining to the daily, spiritual, and even political and
economic life of the convent, all the way up to
the superior position, in this case a prioress and the
vicar her second in command. As the historian Kate Lowe
has pointed out, convent elections often held a particular significance

(02:16):
for the many women who had been put into the
convent against their will. Voting for new leadership was a
concrete moment in which they were given even a small
choice in the direction of their lives. And then, of course,
there were the feasts, which, even for the most committed nun,
could be a welcome break from the monotony and austerity

(02:40):
of convent life. The excitement of Santa Margarita's election day, however,
would turn out to be short lived. The preparations came
to a screeching halt that morning when it was discovered
that a young secular border had disappeared from the convent overnight.

(03:01):
The girl, Katerina dela Cassina, had recently been imprisoned in
the wood shed as punishment at the behest of the
powerful sister Virginia Maria birth name Marianna de Lvia Emrino,
following a string of Katerina's bad behavior. When the mother
Superior and the visiting prelate Monseigneur Pietro Barca, had gone

(03:26):
to speak with Katerina before beginning the election proceedings. However,
the girl was nowhere to be found. A large hole
in the wall of the shed facing the road suggested
that Katerina had run away. Katerina had always been vocal
about her disdain for convent life, and she had even

(03:48):
threatened to run away in the past. Perhaps many of
the nuns thought she had finally had enough, and staring
down punishment for her recent actions, she finally decided to
make an escape. There were more than a few sisters
present in the convent who could sympathize, though they knew
better to admit it. Still, to run away from one's

(04:12):
convent was a serious offense, not to mention a dangerous undertaking.
The elections went on despite the confusion of the morning,
but they did little to lift anyone's spirit. The election
turned out to be heavily contested following months of tension
over Sister Virginia's almost unchecked power within the convent, and

(04:36):
some whispered her suspicious pattern of immoral behavior. She had
been the vicar of the convent and was in the
running for prioress, but she and her supporters all ended
up losing their elections. Many of the nuns noticed that
Sister Virginia seemed almost panicked throughout the day. Some reasoned

(04:58):
that she must have been worried about Katerina, given that
she was the supervisor of the girls who were boarding
at the convent. Others sneered that Sister Virginia was just
upset at losing the right to boss everybody around while
she did whatever she pleased. As the day finally drew
to a close, the nuns settled into their beds with

(05:19):
the general sense that something wasn't quite right. They never
could have guessed, though, that their missing sister Katerina had
never actually made it off convent grounds, and they couldn't
have known that at that very moment Katerina's murderer was
preparing to sneak back in to retrieve the poor girl's body.

(05:44):
But when they eventually found out what had happened, the
nuns of Santa Margarita knew one thing for sure, that
Sister Virginia had given the murderer the key, I'm Dana Schwartz,
and this is noble blood. Perhaps, as Marianna de Lavia

(06:08):
Imorno threatened fellow nun's lives, she thought to herself that
this was not the direction she had imagined her own
life would take. In another universe, perhaps she would have
turned out like her mother, the woman for whom she
Mariana took her religious name, Virginia Maria. Although Virginia Maria's

(06:30):
life had been tragically cut short by illness probably plague,
thirty years earlier, her life had perfectly fit the script
of a young woman of noble rank and significant wealth.
She grew up comfortably in her family home, married someone
of an equally illustrious lineage, and had a child for
whom she both had the means and the intention to

(06:52):
provide a life much like her own. That was the
life that Marianna should have had, comfortable, simple, and about
as free a life as any young woman could have
in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. But instead,
here Marianna was a nun against her will, a secret

(07:15):
lover hiding an affair, an unwed mother, and now accomplice
to a murder. John Paulo Osio, her partner both in
affair and crime, had murdered Katerina dela Cassini, the unruly
secular at the convent who had threatened to expose their
forbidden romance. Marianna and John Paulo weren't the only ones

(07:40):
who had gotten their hands sturdy, though. There were also
the sisters Atavia Benedetta, Candida Columba, and Sylvia, Marianna's fellow nuns,
who had witnessed the murder and were now helping in
covering up the crime. As the group stood in the
woodshed over Katerina's body, John Powlo and the nuns came

(08:02):
up with a plan. First, they quickly moved the girl's
body to the nearby chicken coop, at least until they
had time to come up with a more permanent solution.
They stood the body upright and hid it behind planks
of wood, since there wasn't enough room to conceal the
body lying down next. As the group would later tell it,

(08:25):
John Powlo made the hole in the wood shed wall
to stimulate an escape. Historians have pointed out, however, that
the shed had in fact been made of stone, and
that it would have been extraordinarily difficult to have quickly
and quietly made such a hole without proper tools, a
detail that raises the specter of premeditation. That maybe this

(08:49):
wasn't a murder. In a moment of confusion and anger,
the most important thing on the murder checklist, of course,
was to make sure nobody blabbed. John Paolo and Marianna
had a lot to lose. But the other nuns had
only been accomplices. It would have been easy for them
to claim they were manipulated, or tricked or coerced into

(09:13):
helping the illicit couple carry out their murderous plan. Marianna
knew that, and she had it covered. All she had
to do was point to poor Katerina's bloodied corpse and
tell her fellow nuns her friends who had aided her
for years, that that was their future if they dared

(09:33):
to speak a word. That threat, coupled with the very
recent memory of John Powlo's brutal violence, was enough to
shut them up. After the next morning's hectic convent elections
and visit from the Prelate, they had to move Katerina's
body to a more permanent location. That night, Jean Paulo

(09:56):
and sister Benedetta snuck back into the chicken coop and
brought the body back to the former's estate. John Paulo
dismembered the body before bringing the pieces to his family's
estate in nearby Vilatte. Most of the pieces he hid
in his niviera, a cellar made to store ice and snow.

(10:18):
Katerina's head, however, he threw in a nearby well, presumably
so that if anyone found the rest of her body
it would be nearly impossible to identify her. The body
was safely hidden, but that didn't mean that nobody was
going to be suspicious about Katerina's so called escape. As

(10:40):
much as Katerina had threatened to run away, none of
the nuns quite believed that Katerina had actually done it.
It was too sudden, too clean, and too coincidentally timed
with increasing speculation about Marianna's illicit activities. Before long, just

(11:01):
about everybody, both inside and outside the convent walls, were
gossiping about what was going on at Santa Margarita, and
though nobody quite connected the dots, it was clear that
some sort of suspicion was falling on the well known
quote secret lovers John Paolo and Marianna. The latter did

(11:24):
her best to keep her composure as the rumors swirled
around her. John Paulo, on the other hand, began to
feel trapped, and by the fall of sixteen o six,
decided that there was only one way out to kill
anyone he thought might talk. John Powlo attempted first to

(11:46):
murder a man named Raniero Rancino, a local apothecary who
had been telling everyone in town about the various, unusual,
perhaps compromising ointments and medicines that the convent had commissioned
from him over the years, and he had been known
to remark about the parentage of John Paolo's daughter, Alma

(12:09):
Francesca Margarita, who would visit the monastery multiple times a week.
Jean Paulo sought to stop the gossip, and so he
shot at Raniero with a long gun called in Arcubus.
He missed and Rancino got away. John Polo also planned
to murder Father Paolo Aregone, the very man whose letter

(12:34):
ghostwriting had helped John Paolo wo Marianna in the first place.
But Marianna heard about Jean Paolo's plan and she begged
him not to proceed with it, which spared Father Paolo's life.
Cesare Ferrari, the blacksmith who had been forging copies of
the monastery keys for John Paolo and Marianna, was not

(12:56):
so lucky. He was found dead aside his shop. Of course,
despite having murdered his blacksmith, John Paolo still needed keys
made to be able to come and go from the
monastery as he pleased. He sent a servant on his
behalf to engage the services of a man named Alessandro Mocho.

(13:18):
All was well for a few months until one fateful
day when someone from the monastery of Santa Margarita came
to Alessandro's workshop to have some locks cleaned, some locks
with very familiar looking keys. The blacksmith realized with a
start that for months he had been duplicating keys to

(13:40):
the monastery, and he knew exactly who he was doing
it for, Alessandro Moco. The blacksmith was apparently the only
honorable man in the city of Manta, so when he
realized what he had been complicit in, he immediately told
his father, who told the confessor of the Monastery of
Santa Margarita, who told, of course, the Governor of Milan,

(14:05):
Pedro Enrico del Svedo, Count of Fuentes and Governor of Milan,
had heard nothing of the debauchery taking place at the
monastery of Santa Margharita when the nun's confessor wrote to
him in early sixteen oh seven describing what he had
heard from the blacksmith's father. It is unclear from the
record whether at this point the blacksmith had connected the

(14:28):
dots about John Polo's illicit dealings at the monastery with
his killing slash attempted killingsbury, or whether the blacksmith had
just discovered the affair he was having with Marianna. In
any case, a Governor Fuentes had John Powlo arrested during
the celebrations for Carnival in sixteen oh seven and imprisoned

(14:50):
him in Pavilla, a town about thirty miles south of Milan.
News of John Powlo's imprisonment quickly reached the convent, where
soon everyone was talking about how it must have been
related to his affair with Marianna. As the reality of
the situation they were in became apparent to the now

(15:12):
separated lovers, they each made a choice that would very
quickly come to haunt them. Marianna wrote in a panic
to Governor Fwentis, alleging that John Powlo's relationship with the
monastery was completely spiritual, even going so far as to
strong arm as many of her fellow nuns as she

(15:33):
could into signing the letter, a move that only served
to fuel the governor's suspicions. John Paulo, on the other hand,
fabricated a medical declaration stating that imprisonment posed a severe
threat to his health, and he sent that letter to
the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Frederico Borromeo, who had previously

(15:56):
known nothing about the situation, but who, upon recas being
this letter, now became very very interested. In the summer
of sixteen oh seven, Cardinal Boromeo traveled to Mansa under
the guise of a normal pastoral visit to the monastery
of Santa Margharita. In reality, however, he had been informed

(16:17):
of the rumors swirling around the city with increasing intensity.
A series of murderous attacks, a potential affair involving a nun,
a young child of dubious parentage all merited investigation. When
he arrived at the convent, he took on a curious, firm,

(16:39):
but calm demeanor, especially when he finally spoke to Mariana
he was sure. He told her that she had only
been acting with the most innocent of intentions. He reminded
her gently of her vows of her noble heritage and
asked her to reassure him that nothing untold had been

(17:00):
going on. In the same breath that she denied any wrongdoing,
Marianna also decided to appeal passionately to Borimeo on her
lover's behalf, saying that his continued imprisonment was a threat
to his honor. Her appeal was a brazen move that
shocked the cardinal, As the writer Giuseppe Ripamonte would later

(17:25):
tell it, quote, the outcome of that conversation was the
following that, on the one hand, the woman became more
suspicious than she had previously been. On the other hand,
the Cardinal left more restless and worried than he had
been before arriving there. Cardinal Borromeo returned to Milan with

(17:46):
the same sense of unease that many in Manza had
been feeling for some time. As the effects of John
Paolo and Marianna's relationship continued to ripple out, the Cardinal's
unease would have surely turned to fury. However, when in
late September sixteen oh seven, John Poolo escaped from his

(18:10):
confinement in Pavia, John Poulo went into hiding. Desperate to
avoid punishment for his crimes, he frantically came up with
a plan he thought would kill two birds with one stone,
or rather kill two potential witnesses with one murderer. First,
he dispatched one of his various henchmen to kill Raniero Rancini,

(18:33):
the apothecary who had narrowly evaded John Polo's bullet almost
a year earlier. Then he planted the murder weapon in
the house of his friend Father Paolo. Aregone and remember
Father Paulo was the very man who had ghost written
the letters that had initially wooed Marianna to John Paulo

(18:54):
in the first place. At first, it seemed like Joan
Polo's hasty violet scheme had actually worked out in his favor,
but of course that wouldn't last long. Father Paulo was
arrested and transferred to the custody of the Archbishopric of Milan,
while Cardinal Boromeo prepared the investigation. Within days, the trial began,

(19:19):
and by the time it concluded, all of Mariana's and
John Powlo's most sordid secrets would finally be brought to light,
but the bloodshed was far from over. The murder trial
of Father Paolo Aragona began in October sixteen oh seven,

(19:40):
but it quickly became obvious that the priest, although guilty
of plenty of sins, was not in fact guilty of murder.
He was exonerated within weeks by the porter of the monastery,
who testified that Jean Paolo had commissioned the murder and
that one of his cronies had execut you did it.

(20:01):
Upon hearing that he had finally been formally accused of
some of the crimes he had definitely committed. Joan Paolo
made another of his boneheaded choices, and he went into
hiding in the convent of Santa Margarita, taking refuge first
in the quarters of Sister Otavia, then Sister Benedetta. We

(20:25):
can applaud i suppose the good sense he had in
avoiding hiding in Marianna's room. It wasn't long, however, before
the nuns began to notice the sisters nervously sneaking extra
food back to their rooms, and they reported their suspicions
to the cardinal. On November twenty fifth, sixteen oh seven,

(20:47):
Marianna was finally arrested. Cardinal Borromeo sent guards to the
monastery to capture her by force. According to Ripamonte, she
resisted with a boldness rather a becoming of a nun,
breaking her bonds and attempting to escape, stealing a sword
and threatening to slash her way out of custody, even

(21:10):
hitting her head against a wall before they could restrain
her again. John Poolo somehow managed to avoid arrest again,
and he would return to the convent once the coast
was clear. A few days later, as Marianna's trial began,
and as Joan Paolo's trial began in absentia, the authorities

(21:31):
began interrogating the nuns one by one. Sisters Otavia and
Benedetta began to panic. They had been complicit in so
many of Marianna and Jean Paulo's transgressions. They were practically
guilty themselves. What was going to happen to them when
the inquisitors learned of their involvement. Visions of torture and

(21:55):
imprisonment and worse danced in their heads, and they turned
to Jean Poolo, begging him to help them escape the convent.
He agreed. John Poolo helped the nuns escape from the
convent through a hole in the wall, a familiar move
that perhaps should have given the nuns pause. They set

(22:17):
off together toward his estate in Vilaate on November twenty ninth.
Once safely in the countryside, they followed the River Lambre
for a while, but eventually had to head east toward
their destination. As they made their way across a bridge, however,
John Poolo made his true intentions clear. He pushed sister

(22:41):
Otavia into the river, and as she tried to climb
back to shore, he hit her repeatedly on the head
with the butt of his trusty gun. Sister Otavia finally
fell back into the river and John Poolo left her
for dead. She was, however, still alive, though just barely,

(23:02):
and would be found downstream by a farmer not long
after the attack. She was brought back to Monsa, to
the monastery of Santa Orsola, and she would linger for
a few more weeks, finally dying in late December, after
giving a full confession. In her final days. Sister Benedetta

(23:25):
got luckier, but not by much. For some reason, perhaps
a belief that John Paula would spare her, perhaps knowing
she had no other options, Benedetta continued on after his
murder of Sister Otavia toward Vilaate the following night. However,
as they reached Vilate, he decided that she too could

(23:47):
not be trusted not to talk, and he threw her
into a nearby well and attempted to obscure her body
with stones and dirt before running off on his own.
The fall all broke two ribs and a femur, but
Benedetta survived for two days. Benedetta screamed for help from

(24:09):
the bottom of the well, hurt and bleeding and cold
in the dark. Finally, she was rescued and brought to
a monastery, where, shaken by her ordeal, she immediately confessed.
When the authorities investigated the well Jean Paulo had thrown
her into, they were shocked, well maybe not that shocked,

(24:31):
to find the long since severed head of the missing
secular Katerina dela Cassina. Finally, the last of Marianna and
John Paolo's secrets had been uncovered. All that was left
was to punish them for their crimes. Cardinal Federico Borromeo

(24:55):
must have laughed his holy ass off when he received
a letter just before Christmas sixteen oh seven from none
other than Jean Pauloosio himself. It was hilarious for its content. Sure,
the man on the run with a trail of bodies
behind him was shamelessly proclaiming his innocence, but the letter

(25:18):
was also funny for its timing. The letter was dated
December twentieth, but by the time the Cardinal received it
a few days later, Marianna de Lavia Imurno had already
confessed to everything that she and John Poolo had done.
Marianna pointed the finger firmly at John Powlo. In her confession,

(25:42):
whether out of genuine belief or an attempt to minimize
her guilt, Marianna claimed she had been struck by love sickness.
She couldn't help but carry on an affair with John
Poolo because she was cursed. To support her claim, she
listed off examples of the times she had tried and

(26:03):
failed to break off the relationship, even going so far
as to resort to magical cures, including the one we
mentioned in Part one, where she consumed her lover's feces.
Marianna argued that the alleged curse had been placed on
her years ago, when Joan Paolo had first started giving

(26:24):
her gifts thrown over the garden wall. One of those gifts,
she told the inquisitors, was a black magnet fastened in
a gold setting. John Paulo had told her it was
a relic blessed by none other than Father Paolo himself,
the man Jean Paulo would later try to frame for murder.

(26:46):
John Paolo had kissed the magnet, touching it with his tongue,
and gave it to Marianna, so she could do the same.
She hesitated, she told the court, but he pressured her
until she kissed the magnet two at she believed caused
her love sick condition. Magnets had long been associated with

(27:06):
themes of divinity, but also the occult and you know, attraction.
In other words, Marianna's accusation was one that would have
been taken at least somewhat seriously by the court. In fact,
a special jurist from the Holy Office was brought in,
likely to investigate whether Father Paolo had committed heresy, But

(27:30):
ultimately the love magic accusation did not exonerate Marianna in
the court's eyes. With Marianna's confession dodgy as it was,
both her and John Powlo's fates were all but sealed.
In February sixteen o eight, the inquisitors began the process

(27:50):
of having all of the witnesses and defendants, including Marianna,
repeat their statements under torture, a practice that was ironically
believed to ensure that what they were saying was really
the truth. Father Paolo Aragone was subjected to the strepado,
where his hands were tied behind his back before he

(28:13):
was suspended with a rope by his wrists, resulting in
a painful dislocation of his shoulders. The porter of the convent,
who had testified on father Paolo's behalf, along with his wife,
were actually spared of the torture, but were interrogated while
quote exposed to torture, which meant with the instruments of

(28:36):
torture in sight, seems better to me. Marianna and her
fellow nuns were subjected to the torture of the sybils,
where their fingers were fastened into a series of metal
rings that could be tightened and loosened by the inquisitors,
which caused great pain and potentially significant damage to the hand.

(29:01):
While Marianna submitted to torture and the court convened to
decide their case, John Polo continued to evade arrest, bouncing
between estates and hiding in the homes of any remaining
friends who were willing to shelter him. It turns out
he was bad at murder but great at hiding. He

(29:22):
was never found by the authorities, who sentenced him in absentia,
the sentence which he would never hear read. John Paolo
Ossio is condemned to the gallows and to the confiscation
of his assets, and is banished forever from the territory
of Milan. So in such a way that if the

(29:43):
said Osio were to fall into the hands of justice,
he shall be driven on a cart in front of
the monastery of Santa Margharita in the city of Monza,
and there his right hand is to be cut off.
He is to be taken on the same cart to
the place of execution the sentence, and in the meantime
he is to be tortured with red hot pincers. Finally,

(30:05):
let him hang on the gallows, so that he dies,
and his corpse is to be cut into pieces, and
these are to be hung in the places where his
crimes were committed. However, outside the said city, whoof John
Paulo would never suffer those rather harrowing consequences. But that's

(30:26):
not to say he never got his come uppance. In
sixteen oh nine, he was murdered by a friend, or
rather a former friend, in the cellar of said Frenemie's palace.
This small morsel of poetic justice was perhaps what he deserved,

(30:47):
but it paled in comparison to Mariana's horrific fate. After
months of deliberation, Marianna's sentence was finally handed down on
October eighteenth, sixteen o eight. Marianna was sentenced to immurement
for quote the most grievous and irregular and most atrocious offenses,

(31:11):
often colloquially referred to as quote being walled in immurement
is pretty much what it sounds like. Marianna was to
be taken to the nearby monastery of Santa Valeria, a
shelter for converts and wayward women, and was to be
enclosed into a single small cell with no doors and

(31:32):
no windows, except for one just large enough to pass
food and water through, and through which she could still
make regular confession. The nuns who were complicit in Marianna
and Gianpaolo's crimes, the ones he hadn't murdered anyway, would
share her fate, though they were sentenced later and immured

(31:54):
in Santa Margarita. Meant to be a kind of living death.
Imment was a cruel punishment often meted out to nuns
and monks who had broken their vows of chastity. It
has a long, gruesome history, dating back at least to
the ancient Roman priestesses called vestal virgins, who would be

(32:17):
entombed alive if they were found to have violated their
vows of chastity. Immurement was generally a life sentence, although
people who were immured didn't tend to survive for very
long unless they were given sufficient food and water, which
could simultaneously be a mercy or an elongation of the punishment,

(32:41):
or both. Marianna spent fourteen years in near total darkness
and solitude, walled into a cell roughly five by seven
feet in size. The small hole in the wall allowed
room enough to receive minimal rations and enough light to

(33:01):
recite the breviary in the winters, her cell was damp
and cold. In the summer's sweltering, she received no spare
clothes and no blankets or comforts other than a mattress
stuffed with straw that rotted every two months but was
only changed every six. No one healed her illnesses or

(33:25):
comforted the inevitable attacks of claustrophobic terror. Memoirs from other
prisoners of the time answer that question that you might
be wondering. She was given a bucket for her waist,
but it was only changed every four or five days,
leaving the stagnant air almost unbreathable. These were the conditions

(33:46):
of extreme pennance, meant to encourage the inner spiritual transformation
of the prisoner, but from where we stand in the
modern era, it's hard to imagine it as anything other
than torture. The court had intended to keep all of
the convicted nuns immured for the remainder of their lives,

(34:07):
but after continual meetings with Cardinal Boromeo throughout her imprisonment,
Marianna finally convinced him of her penitence, and he ordered
her to be freed on September twenty fifth, sixteen twenty two.
We do not know for sure, but it's likely that
the other nuns were also freed alongside her, although Marianna

(34:30):
remained in Santa Valeria, away from her former convent. Marianna's
writings and other records that survive from this period after
she had her sentence commuted show just how much those
fourteen years broke her spirit and most likely also her mind.
If she had gone into her sentence with any remaining

(34:53):
feelings of yearning for freedom, for a different kind of life,
they were thoroughly squashed by the time she was released,
replaced with religious fervor, fear, and emptiness. She spoke of
visions of angels and demons and seeking celestial favor. She
wept at the feet of Cardinal Borromeo, convulsed in religious ecstasy,

(35:19):
and insisted on sleeping in a dirty and dark corner
of the monastery until the cardinal ordered that she moved
to a new cell suited to comforting the spirit through
cheerfulness of attitude and air. Until his death in sixteen
thirty one, Borromeo utilized Marianna as an example of the

(35:41):
transformative powers of repentance and had her right to nuns
throughout the region who were struggling or otherwise facing consequences
for troublesome behavior, something of a Nun Scared Straight program.
Although there are few exact records words about Marianna's life

(36:01):
after Boromeo's death, it's believed that she remained at Santa
Valeria and devoted the remainder of her life to the
spiritual support of her fellow nuns, continuing to offer herself
as an example of dangers in straying from the righteous path.
In November sixteen forty six, she wrote a letter to

(36:23):
the archdeacon of Santa Maria de la Scala in Siena,
including a brief family tree of the Delvia family, evident
that through her ordeal, she still remained somewhat invested in
her family's continued legacy. Marianna's own legacy has been one
of scandal and retellings of her story, which have tended

(36:46):
to place a great deal of blame on her. According
to most of the historical sources we have of Marianna's
life and story, she was a woman who should have
honored her vows, and who instead broke all of them
and venom, and who paid a horrifying price for failing
to resist temptation. But there's also another version we might consider,

(37:11):
of a woman whose life could have been defined by freedom,
but who was trapped again and again, first by her father,
then by a convent, then by a violent man who
manipulated her, and finally by a brick wall, and whose
choices to reclaim what little freedom she could were unfortunate,

(37:34):
even disastrous, but may be worthy of a little empathy.
The reality for Marianna, as it is for most of us,
must be somewhere in the gray area. Marianna died on
January seventh, sixteen fifty, at seventy four years old. Although
she had somewhat faded into obscurity by the time of

(37:57):
her death, we know the date because of a single
note in the ledger of the monastery of Santa Margarita,
which read, on November seventh, sixteen fifty, Sister Virginia's family
owes the convent the sum of three thousand, eight hundred
and one lira and thirty nine soldi for alimony because

(38:17):
today she has passed away to a better life. She
never did, it seems, receive the dowry that she should
have inherited. That's the end of the second part of
the salacious and tragic story of the Nun of Monsa.

(38:41):
But stick around after a brief sponsor break to hear
about another nune gone bad who was causing trouble in
her own convent at around the same time. The case
of Mariana de la vier Marino and her disastrous love

(39:04):
affair is certainly unique in many ways, but it was
far from the only example of how the early modern
practice of forcing children into monasteries could have unfortunate, even
scandalous consequences. Around the time that Mariana was released from
her sentence of immurement. Another convent drama was playing out

(39:26):
less than one hundred and fifty miles away in the
small town of Pesha. In sixteen twenty two or twenty three,
papal authorities were called to the Congregation of the Mother
of God, who investigate a nun, in fact a former abbess,
for her suspicious claims of mysticism. The nun, Benedetta Carlini,

(39:49):
had been placed in the convent by her parents as
a child, and even then had quickly garnered a reputation
for her apparent divine favor. She had been making claims
for years that she had been experiencing powerful mystic visions.
She even had the stigmata and wounds on her forehead

(40:10):
that mimicked the wounds of Christ, though many nuns reported
having seen her take a needle to her own hands
and feet. These rumors, along with other suspicious incidents like
a faked resurrection, drew the attention of an inquisition which
had long been anxious about the fervent followings mystics had

(40:33):
been able to amass, and which sought to stamp them
out whenever possible. The inquisitors never could have expected, though,
this scandal they were about to uncover when they arrived
to investigate the so called mystic in Pesha. Upon interrogation,
Venedetta's companion, a younger nun named Bartolomea Crevelli, admitted that

(40:58):
for years she and Benedetta had had a sexual relationship,
although she claimed that the elder nun had fooled her
into participating by pretending to be possessed by an angel
named splendid Tello during their relations The accusation shocked the
inquisitors and shook the convent and town to its core.

(41:23):
For her litany of crimes, including sexual impropriety, Benedetta was
imprisoned in the convent, although not immured, and remained so
until her death in sixteen sixty one at age seventy one.
Unlike Marianna's story, which was revived in the nineteenth century,

(41:44):
Benedetta and Barcelomea's almost unbelievable tale remained largely unknown until
the nineteen eighties, when historian Judith Brown published her book
Immodest Acts, The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance
in Italy after discovering records from Benedetta's case, in an archive.

(42:05):
But lest we lament the lost opportunity for a nonsploitation
adaptation of that book, not to worry, A movie called Benedetta,
directed by Paul Verhoeven of RoboCop fame, came out in
twenty twenty one.
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