Story of Louis Gaufredi and Magdalen de la Palud, owned by themselves to be a Sorcerer and Sorceress

By Augustine Calmet.

This is an unheard-of example; a man and woman who declared themselves to be a sorcerer and sorceress. Louis Gaufredi, Curé of the parish of Accouls, at Marseilles, was accused of magic, and arrested at the beginning of the year 1611. Christopher Gaufredi, his uncle, of Pourrieres, in the neighborhood of Beauversas, sent him, six months before he (Christopher) died, a little paper book, in 16mo., with six leaves written upon; at the bottom of every leaf were two verses in French, and in the other parts were characters or ciphers, which contained magical mysteries. Louis Gaufredi at first thought very little of this book, and kept it for five years.

At the end of that time, having read the French verses, the devil presented himself under a human shape, and by no means deformed, and told him that he was come to fulfill all his wishes, if he would give him credit for all his good works. Gaufredi agreed to the condition. He asked of the demon that he might enjoy a great reputation for wisdom and virtue among persons of probity, and that he might inspire with love all the women and young girls he pleased, by simply breathing upon them.

Lucifer promised him all this in writing, and Gaufredi very soon saw the perfect accomplishment of his designs. He inspired with love a young lady named Magdalen, the daughter of a gentleman whose name was Mandole de la Palud. This girl was only nine years old, when Gaufredi, on pretence of devotion and spirituality, gave her to understand that, as her spiritual father, he had a right to dispose of her, and persuaded her to give herself to the devil; and some years afterwards, he obliged her to give a schedule, signed with her own blood, to the devil, to deliver herself up to him still more. It is even said that he made her give from that time seven or eight other schedules.

After that, he breathed upon her, inspired her with a violent passion for himself, and took advantage of her; he gave her a familiar demon, who served her and followed her everywhere. One day he transported her to the witches' sabbath, held on a high mountain near Marseilles; she saw there people of all nations, and in particular Gaufredi, who held there a distinguished rank, and who caused characters to be impressed or stamped on her head and in several other parts of her body. This girl afterwards became a nun of the order of St. Ursula, and passed for being possessed by the devil.

Gaufredi also inspired several other women with an irregular passion, by breathing on them; and this diabolical power lasted for six years. For at last they found out that he was a sorcerer and magician; and Mademoiselle de Mandole having been arrested by the Inquisition, and interrogated by father Michael Jacobin, owned a great part of what we have just told, and during the exorcisms discovered several other things. She was then nineteen years of age.

All this made Gaufredi known to the Parliament of Provence. They arrested him; and proceedings against him commenced February, 1611. They heard in particular the deposition of Magdalen de la Palud, who gave a complete history of the magic of Gaufredi, and the abominations he had committed with her. That for the last fourteen years he had been a magician, and head of the magicians; and if he had been taken by the justiciary power, the devil would have carried him body and soul to hell.

Gaufredi had voluntarily gone to prison; and from the first examination which he underwent, he denied everything and represented himself as an upright man. But from the depositions made against him, it was shown that his heart was very corrupted, and that he had seduced Mademoiselle de Mandole, and other women whom he confessed. This young lady was heard juridically the 21st of February, and gave the history of her seduction, of Gaufredi's magic, and of the sabbath whither he had caused her to be transported several times.

Some time after this, being confronted with Gaufredi, she owned that he was a worthy man, and that all which had been reported against him was imaginary, and retracted all she herself had avowed. Gaufredi on his part acknowledged his illicit connection with her, denied all the rest, and maintained that it was the devil, by whom she was possessed, that had suggested to her all she had said. He owned that, having resolved to reform his life, Lucifer had appeared to him, and threatened him with many misfortunes; that in fact he had experienced several; that he had burnt the magic book in which he had placed the schedules of Mademoiselle de la Palud and his own, which he had made with the devil; but that when he afterwards looked for them, he was much astonished not to find them. He spoke at length concerning the sabbath, and said there was, near the town of Nice, a magician, who had all sorts of garments ready for the use of the sorcerers; that on the day of the sabbath, there is a bell weighing a hundred pounds, four ells in width, and with a clapper of wood, which made the sound dull and lugubrious. He related several horrors, impieties, and abominations which were committed at the sabbath. He repeated the schedule which Lucifer had given him, by which he bound himself to cast a spell on those women who should be to his taste.

After this exposition of the things related above, the attorney-general drew his conclusions: As the said Gaufredi had been convicted of having divers marks in several parts of his body, where if pricked he has felt no pain, neither has any blood come; that he has been illicitly connected with Magdalen de la Palud, both at church and in her own house, both by day and by night, by letters in which were amorous or love characters, invisible to any other but herself; that he had induced her to renounce her God and her Church—and that she had received on her body several diabolical characters; that he has owned himself to be a sorcerer and a magician; that he had kept by him a book of magic, and had made use of it to conjure and invoke the evil spirit; that he has been with the said Magdalen to the sabbath, where he had committed an infinite number of scandalous, impious and abominable actions, such as having worshiped Lucifer:—for these causes, the said attorney-general requires that the said Gaufredi be declared attainted and convicted of the circumstances imputed to him, and as reparation of them, that he be previously degraded from sacred orders by the Lord Bishop of Marseilles, his diocesan, and afterwards condemned to make honorable amends one audience day, having his head and feet bare, a cord about his neck, and holding a lighted taper in his hands—to ask pardon of God, the king, and the court of justice—then, to be delivered into the hands of the executioner of the high court of law, to be taken to all the chief places and cross-roads of this city of Aix, and torn with red-hot pincers in all parts of his body; and after that, in the Place des Jacobins, burned alive, and his ashes scattered to the wind; and before being executed, let the question be applied to him, and let him be tormented as grievously as can be devised, in order to extract from him the names of his other accomplices. Deliberated the 18th of April, 1611, and the decree in conformity given the 29th of April, 1611.

The same Gaufredi having undergone the question ordinary and extraordinary, declared that he had seen at the sabbath no person of his acquaintance except Mademoiselle de Mandole; that he had seen there also certain monks of certain orders, which he did not name, neither did he know the names of the monks. That the devil anointed the heads of the sorcerers with certain unguents, which quite effaced every thing from their memory.

Notwithstanding this decree of the Parliament of Provence, many people believed that Gaufredi was a sorcerer only in imagination; and the author from whom we derive this history says, that there are some parliaments, amongst others the Parliament of Paris, which do not punish sorcerers when no other crimes are combined with magic; and that experience has proved that, in not punishing sorcerers, but simply treating them as madmen, it has been seen in time that they were no longer sorcerers, because they no longer fed their imagination with these ideas; while in those places where sorcerers were burnt, they saw nothing else, because everybody was strengthened in this prejudice. That is what this writer says.

But we cannot conclude from thence that God does not sometimes permit the demon to exercise his power over men, and lead them to the excess of malice and impiety, and shed darkness over their minds and corruption in their hearts, which hurry them into an abyss of disorder and misfortune. The demon tempted Job by the permission of God. The messenger of Satan and the thorn in the flesh wearied St. Paul; he asked to be delivered from them; but he was told that the grace of God would enable him to resist his enemies, and that virtue was strengthened by infirmities and trials. Satan took possession of the heart of Judas, and led him to betray Jesus Christ his Master to the Jews his enemies. The Lord wishing to warn his disciples against the impostors who would appear after his ascension, says that, by God's permission, these impostors would work such miracles as might mislead the very elect themselves, were it possible. He tells them elsewhere, that Satan has asked permission of God to sift them as wheat, but that He has prayed for them that their faith may be steadfast.

Thus then with permission from God, the devil can lead men to commit such excesses as we have just seen in Mademoiselle de la Palud and in the priest Louis Gaufredi, perhaps even so far as really to take them through the air to unknown spots, and to what is called the witches' sabbath; or, without really conducting them thither, so strike their imagination and mislead their senses, that they think they move, see, and hear, when they do not stir from their places, see no object and hear no sound.

Observe, also, that the Parliament of Aix did not pass any sentence against even that young girl, it being their custom to inflict no other punishment on those who suffered themselves to be seduced and dishonored than the shame with which they were loaded ever after. In regard to the curé Gaufredi, in the account which they render to the chancellor of the sentence given by them, they say that this curé was in truth accused of sorcery; but that he had been condemned to the flames, as being arraigned and convicted of spiritual incest with Magdalen de la Palud, his penitent.


This is taken from Phantom World, originally published in 1850.





Copyright © D. J. McAdam· All Rights Reserved