THE EXORCISM OF NICOLA AUBREY
By Father Michael Muller, C.Ss.R.
It is indeed a remarkable fact that, as the devil made use of Luther, an
apostate monk, to abolish the Mass and deny the Real Presence; in like
manner, God made use of His arch-enemy, the devil, to prove the Real
Presence. He repeatedly forced him publicly to profess his firm belief in
it, to confound the heretics for their disbelief, and acknowledge himself
vanquished by Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. For this purpose, God
allowed a certain Mme. Nicola Aubrey, an innocent person, to become
possessed by Beelzebub and twenty-nine other evil spirits. The possession
took place on the eighth of November, 1565, and lasted until the eighth of
Her parents took her to Father de Motta, a pious priest of Vervins, in
order that he might expel the demon by exorcisms of the Church. Father de
Motta tried several times to expel the evil spirit by applying the sacred
relics of the holy cross, but he could not succeed; Satan would not depart.
At last, inspired by the Holy Ghost, he resolved to expel the devil by
means of the sacrament of Our Lord's Body and Blood. Whilst Nicola was
lying in a state of unnatural lethargy, Father de Motta placed the Blessed
Sacrament upon her lips, and instantly the infernal spell was broken;
Nicola was restored to consciousness, and received Holy Communion with
every mark of devotion. As soon as Nicola had received the sacred Body of
Our Lord, her face became bright and beautiful as the face of an angel, and
all who saw her were filled with joy and wonder, and they blessed God from
their inmost hearts. With the permission of God, Satan returned and again
took possession of Nicola.
As the strange circumstances of Nicola's possession became known
everywhere, several Calvinist preachers came with their followers, to
"expose this popish cheat," as they said. On their entrance, the devil
saluted them mockingly, called them by name, and told them that they had
come in obedience to him. One of the preachers took his Protestant prayer
book, and began to read it with a very solemn face. The devil laughed at
him, and putting on a most comical look, he said: "Ho! Ho! My good friend;
do you intend to expel me with your prayers and hymns? Do you think that
they will cause me any pain? Don't you know that they are mine? I helped to
"I will expel thee in the name of God," said the preacher, solemnly.
You!" said the devil mockingly. "You will not expel me either in the name
of God, or in the name of the devil. Did you ever hear of one devil driving
"I am not a devil," said the preacher, angrily, "I am a servant of Christ."
"A servant of Christ, indeed!" said Satan, with a sneer. "What! I tell you,
you are worse than I am. I believe, and you do not want to believe. Do you
suppose that you can expel me from the body of this miserable wretch? Ha!
Go first and expel all the devils that are in your own heart!"
The preacher took his leave, somewhat discomfited. On going away, he said,
turning up the whites of his eyes, "O Lord, I pray thee, assist this poor
"And I pray Lucifer," cried the evil spirit, "that he may never leave you,
but may always keep you firmly in his power, as he does now. Go about your
business, now. You are all mine, and I am your master."
On the arrival of the priest, several of the Protestants went away - they
had seen and heard more than they wanted. Others, however, remained; and
great was their terror when they saw how the devil writhed and howled in
agony, as soon as the Blessed Sacrament was brought near him. At last the
evil spirit departed, leaving Nicola in a state of unnatural trance. While
she was in this state, several of the preachers tried to open her eyes, but
they found it impossible to do so. The priest then placed the Blessed
Sacrament on Nicola's lips, and instantly she was restored to
consciousness. Rev. Father de Motta then turned to the astonished
preachers, and said: "Go now, ye preachers of the new Gospel; go and relate
everywhere what you have seen and heard. Do not deny any longer that Our
Lord Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of
the altar. Go now, and let not human respect hinder you from confessing the
During the exorcisms of the following days, the devil was forced to confess
that he was not to be expelled at Vervins, and that he had with him
twenty-nine devils, among whom were three powerful demons: Cerberus,
Astaroth, and Legio. On the third of January, 1556, the bishop arrived at
Vervins, and began the exorcism in the church, in the presence of an
"I command thee, in the name and by power of the real presence of Our Lord
in the Blessed Sacrament, to depart instantly," said the bishop to Satan in
a solemn voice.
Satan was, at last, expelled the second time by means of the Blessed
Sacrament. On leaving, he paralyzed the left arm and right foot of Nicola,
and also made her left arm longer than her right; and no power on earth
could cure this strange infirmity, until some weeks after, when the devil
was at last completely and irrevocably expelled. Nicola was now taken to
the celebrated pilgrimage of Our Lady at Liesse, especially since the devil
seemed to fear that place so much. Next day Father de Motta began the
exorcism in the church of Our Lady at Liesse, in the presence of an immense
multitude. He took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and, showing it to
the demon, he said: "I command thee, in the name of the living God, the
great Emmanuel Whom thou seest here present, and in Whom thou believest."
"Ah, yes!" shrieked the demon, "I believe in Him." And the devil howled
again as he made this confession, for it was wrung from him by the power of
"I command thee, then, in His Name," said the priest, "to quit this body
At these words, and especially at the sight of the Blessed Sacrament, the
devil suffered the most frightful torture. At one moment the body of Nicola
was rolled up like a ball; then again she became fearfully swollen. At one
time her face was unnaturally lengthened, then excessively widened, and
sometimes it was as red as scarlet. Her eyes, at times, protruded horribly,
and then again sunk deeply into her skull. Her tongue hung down to her
chin; it was sometimes black, sometimes red, and sometimes spotted like a
toad. The priest still continued to urge and torture Satan. "Accursed
spirit!" he cried, "I command thee, in the Name and by the real presence of
Our Lord Jesus Christ here in the Blessed Sacrament, to depart instantly
from the body of this poor creature.
"Ah, yes!" cried Satan, howling wildly, "twenty-six of my companions shall
leave this instant, for they are forced to do so."
The people in the church now began to pray with great fervor. Suddenly
Nicola's limbs began to crack, as if every bone in her body were breaking;
a pestilential vapor came forth from her mouth, and twenty-six devils
departed from her, never more to return. Nicola then fell into an unnatural
swoon, from which she was aroused only by the Blessed Sacrament. On
recovering her senses, and receiving holy communion, Nicola's face shone
like the face of an angel. The priest still continued to urge the demon,
and used every means to expel him.
"I will not leave, unless commanded by the bishop of Leon," answered the
Nicola was now taken to Pierrepont, where one of the demons, name Legio,
was expelled by means of the Blessed Sacrament. Next morning Nicola was
brought to the church. Scarcely had she quitted the house, when the devil
again took possession of her. The bishop, who was requested to exorcise
Nicola, prepared himself for this terrible task by prayer and fasting, and
other works of penance. On arrival of Nicola in the Church, the exorcism
began. "How many are you in this body?" asked the bishop.
"There are three of us," answered the evil spirit.
"What are your names?"
"Beelzebub, Cerberus, and Astaroth."
"What has become of the others?" asked the bishop.
"They have been expelled," answered Satan.
"Who expelled them?"
"Ha!" cried the devil, gnashing his teeth, "it was He whom you hold in your
hand, there on the paten." The devil meant our dear Lord in the Blessed
The bishop then held the Blessed Sacrament near the face of Nicola. The
demon writhed and howled in agony. "Ah, yes! I will go, I will go!" he
shrieked, "but I shall return."
Suddenly Nicola became stiff and motionless as marble. The bishop then
touched her lips with the Blessed Sacrament, and in an instant she was
fully restored to consciousness. She received holy communion, and her
countenance now shone with a wondrous, supernatural beauty. Next day Nicola
was brought again to the Church, and the exorcism began as usual. The
bishop took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, held it near the face of
Nicola, and said:
"I command thee in the name of the living God, and by the real presence of
Our Lord Jesus Christ here in the sacrament of the altar, to depart
instantly from the body of this creature of God, and never more to return."
"No! No!" shrieked the devil, "I will not go. My hour is not yet come."
"I command thee to depart. Go forth, impure, accursed spirit! Go forth!"
and the bishop held the Blessed Sacrament close to Nicola's face.
"Stop! stop!", shrieked Satan; "let me go! I will depart -- but I shall
return." And instantly Nicola fell into the most frightful convulsions. A
black smoke was seen issuing from her mouth, and she fell again into a
During her stay in Leon, Nicola was carefully examined by Catholic and
Protestant physicians. Her left arm, which had been paralyzed by the devil,
was found entirely without feeling. The doctors cut into the arm with a
sharp knife; they burnt it with fire; they drove pins and needles under the
nails of the fingers; but Nicola felt not pain; her arm was utterly
insensible. Once, while Nicola was lying in a state of unnatural lethargy,
the doctors gave her some bread soaked in wine (it was what the Protestants
call their communion, or Lord's Supper); they rubbed her limbs briskly;
they threw water in her face; they pierced her tongue until the blood
flowed; they tried every possible means to arouse her, but in vain! Nicola
remained cold and motionless as marble. At last, the priest touched the
lips of Nicola with the Blessed Sacrament, and instantly she was restored
to consciousness, and began to praise God.
The miracle was so clear, so palpable, that one of the doctors, who was a
bigoted Calvinist, immediately renounced his errors, and became a Catholic.
Several times, also, the Protestants touched Nicola's face with a host
which was not consecrated, and which, consequently, was only bread, but
Satan was not the least tormented by this. He only ridiculed their efforts.
On the twenty-seventh of January, the bishop, after having walked in solemn
procession with the clergy and the faithful, began the exorcism in church,
in the presence of a vast multitude of Protestants and Catholics. The
bishop now held the Blessed Sacrament close to the face of Nicola. Suddenly
a wild, unearthly yell rings through the air -- a black, heavy smoke issues
from the mouth of Nicola. The demon Astaroth is expelled forever. During
the exorcism which took place on the first of February, the bishop said:
"O accursed spirit! Since neither prayer, nor the holy gospels, neither the
exorcisms of the Church, nor the holy relics, can compel thee to depart, I
will now show thee thy Lord and Master, and by His power I command thee."
During the exorcism, which took place after Mass, the bishop held the
Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and said, "O accursed spirit, arch-enemy of
the ever-blessed God! I command thee, by the precious blood of Jesus Christ
here present, to depart from this poor woman! Depart accursed, into the
everlasting flames of hell!"
At these words, and especially at the sight of the Blessed Sacrament, the
demon was so fearfully tormented, and the appearance of Nicola was so
hideous and revolting, that the people turned away their eyes in horror. At
last a heavy sigh was heard, and a cloud of black smoke issued from the
mouth of Nicola. Cerberus was expelled. Again Nicola fell into a death-like
swoon, and again she was brought to consciousness only by means of the
Blessed Sacrament. During the exorcism which took place on the seventh day
of February, the bishop said to Satan:
"Tell me. Why hast thou taken possession of this honest and virtuous
"I have done so by permission of God. I have taken possession of her on
account of the sins of the people. I have done it to show my Calvinists
that there are devils who can take possession of man whenever God permits
it. I know they do not want to believe this, but I will show them that I am
the devil. I have taken possession of this creature in order to convert
them, or to harden them in their sins; and, by the Sacred Blood, I will
perform my task."
This answer filled all who heard it with horror. "Yes," answered the
bishop, solemnly, "God desires to unite all men in the only holy faith. As
there is but one God, so there can be but one true religion. A religion
like that which the Protestants have invented, is but a hollow mockery. It
must fall. The religion established by Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only
true one; it alone shall last forever. It is destined to unite all men
within its sacred embrace, so that there shall be but one sheepfold and one
shepherd. This divine Shepherd is Our Lord Jesus Christ, the invisible head
of the holy Roman Catholic Church, whose visible head is our holy Father
the Pope, successor of St. Peter."
The devil was silent - he was put to shame before the entire multitude. He
was expelled once more by means of the Blessed Sacrament. In the afternoon
of the same day the devil began to cry: "Ah! Ha! You think that you can
expel me in this way. You have not the proper attendance of a bishop. Where
are the dean and the archdean? Where are the royal judges? Where is the
chief magistrate, who was frightened out of his wits that night, in the
prison? Where is the procurator of the king? Where are his attorneys and
counselors? Where is the clerk of the court?" (The devil mentioned each of
these by name.) "I will not depart until all are assembled. Were I to
depart now, what proof could you give to the king of all that has happened?
Do you think that people will believe you so easily? No! No! There are many
who would make objections. The testimony of these common country-people
here will have but little weight. It is a torment to me that I must tell
you what you have to do. I am forced to do it. Ha! Cursed be the hour in
which I first took possession of this vile wretch.
"I find little pleasure in thy prating," answered the bishop. "There are
witnesses enough here. Those whom you have mentioned are not necessary.
Depart! then; give glory to God. Depart - go to the flames of hell!"
"Yes, I shall depart, but not today. I know full well that I must depart.
My sentence is passed; I am compelled to leave."
"I care not for thy jabbering," said the bishop, "I shall expel thee by the
power of God: by the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Yes, I must yield to you," shrieked the demon wildly. "It tortures me that
I must give you this honor."
The bishop now took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and held it close to
the face of the possessed woman. At last, Satan was compelled to flee once
more. The next morning, after the procession was ended, the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass was offered up as usual. During the consecration, the possessed
woman was twice raised over six feet into the air, and then fell back
heavily upon the platform. As the bishop, just before the Pater Noster,
took the Sacred Host once more in his hand, and raised it with the chalice,
the possessed woman was again whisked into the air, carrying with her the
keepers, fifteen in number, at least six feet above the platform; and,
after a while, she fell heavily back on the ground.
At this sight, all present were filled with amazement and terror. A German
Protestant named Voske fell on his knees; he burst into tears; he was
converted. "Ah!" cried he, "I now believe firmly that the devil really
possesses this poor creature. I believe that it is really the body and
blood of Jesus Christ which expels him. I believe firmly. I will no longer
remain a Protestant." After Mass, the exorcism began as usual.
"Now, at last," said the bishop, "thou must depart. Away with thee, evil
"Yes," said Satan, "it is true that I must depart, but not yet. I will not
go before the hour is come in which I first took possession of this
At last the bishop took the Sacred Host in his hand, and said: "In the name
of the adorable Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost -- in the name of the
sacred body of Jesus Christ here present -- I command thee, wicked spirit,
"Yes, yes, it is true!" shrieked the demon wildly; "it is true. It is the
body of God. I must confess it, for I am forced to do so. Ha! It tortures
me that I must confess this, but I must. I speak the truth only when I am
forced to do it. The truth is not from me. It comes from my Lord and
Master. I have entered this body by the permission of God."
The bishop now held the Blessed Sacrament close to the face of the
possessed woman. The demon writhed in fearful agony. He tried in every way
to escape from the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. At length
a black smoke was seen issuing from the mouth of Nicola. She fell into a
swoon, and was restored to consciousness only by means of the Blessed
Sacrament. The eighth of February, the day appointed by God on which Satan
was to leave Nicola forever, arrived at last. After the solemn procession,
the bishop began the last exorcism.
"I shall not ask thee any longer," said the bishop to Satan, "when thou
intendest to leave, I will expel thee instantly by the power of the living
God, and by the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, His beloved Son,
here present in the Sacrament of the Altar."
"Ha, yes!" shrieked the demon. "I confess that the Son of God is here
really and truly present. He is my Lord and Master. It tortures me to
confess it, but I am forced to do so." Then he repeated several times, with
a wild, unearthly howl: "Yes, it is true. I must confess it. I am forced to
leave, by the power of God's body here present. I must -- I must depart. It
torments me that I must go so soon, and that I must confess this truth. But
this truth is not from me; it comes from my Lord and Master, who has sent
me hither, and who commands and compels me to confess the truth publicly."
The bishop then took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and, holding it on
high, he said, with a solemn voice: "O thou wicked, unclean spirit,
Beelzebub! Thou arch-enemy of the eternal God! Behold, here present, the
precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Lord and Master! I
adjure thee, in the name and by the power of Our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ, true God and true man, who is here present; I command thee to
depart instantly and forever from this creature of God. Depart to the
deepest depth of hell, there to be tormented forever. Go forth, unclean
spirit, go forth -- behold here thy Lord and Master!"
At these solemn words, and at the sight of our sacramental Lord, the poor
possessed woman writhed fearfully. Her limbs cracked as if every bone in
her body were breaking. The fifteen strong men who held her, could scarcely
keep her back. They staggered from side to side; they were covered with
perspiration. Satan tried to escape from the presence of Our Lord in the
Blessed Sacrament. The mouth of Nicola was wide open; her tongue hung down
below her chin, her face was shockingly swollen and distorted. Her color
changed from yellow to green, and became even gray and blue, so that she no
longer looked like a human being; it was rather the face of a hideous,
incarnate demon. All present trembled with terror, especially when they
heard the wild cry of the demon, which sounded like the loud roar of a wild
bull. They fell on their knees, and with tears in their eyes, began to cry
out: "Jesus, have mercy!"
The bishop continued to urge Satan. At last the evil spirit departed, and
Nicola fell back senseless into the arms of her keepers. She still,
however, remained shockingly distorted. In this state she was shown to the
judges, and to all the people present; she was rolled up like a ball. The
bishop now fell on his knees, in order to give her the Blessed Sacrament as
usual. But see! Suddenly the demon returns, wild with rage, endeavors to
seize the hand of the bishop, and even tries to grasp the Blessed Sacrament
itself. The bishop starts back; Nicola is carried into the air and the
bishop rises from his knees, trembling with terror and pale as death.
The good bishop takes courage again; he pursues the demon, holding the
Blessed Sacrament in his hand, till at length the demon, overcome by the
power of Our Lord's sacred body, goes forth amidst smoke, and lightning,
and thunder. Thus was the demon at length expelled forever, on Friday
afternoon, at three o'clock, the same day and hour on which Our Lord
triumphed over hell by His ever-blessed death.
Nicola was now completely cured; she could move her left arm with the
greatest ease. She fell on her knees and thanked God, as well as the good
bishop, for all he had done for her. The people wept for joy, and sang
hymns of praise and thanksgiving in honor of our dear Lord in the Blessed
Sacrament. On all sides were heard the exclamations: "Oh, what a great
miracle! Oh, thank God that I witnessed it! Who is there now that can doubt
of the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the
Altar!" Many a Protestant also said: "I believe now in the presence of Our
Lord in the Blessed Sacrament; I have seen with my eyes! I will remain a
Calvinist no longer. Accursed be those who have hitherto kept me in error!
Oh, now I can understand what a good thing is the Holy Sacrifice of the
A solemn Te Deum was intoned; the organ pealed forth and the bells rung
forth a merry chime. The whole city was filled with joy.
This great triumph of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament over Satan
occurred in the presence of more than 150,000 people, in the presence of
the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of the city, of Protestants and
Catholics alike. I have published a lengthy account of this extraordinary
affair in a little volume entitled "Triumph of the Blessed Sacrament."
These facts are well authenticated by the accounts published in various
languages - French, Italian, Spanish, and German, as I have shown on pages
13, 14, and 15 of the above-mentioned little volume.
The above was taken from Chapter 5 of the book The Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass by Fr. Michael Muller, C.SS.R.
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