“I will not leave you in peace until you leave the convent” (Threat from the devil to Maria Dien)
The Devil in the Convent is not the title of a soap opera.
It is the report of a real case of collective infestation and possession, narrated by the exorcist who performed the exorcisms and expelled the demons: Dom Luis de Cooman M.E.P., former bishop for Vietnam.
He published a book with this title, where he describes the extraordinary action of the demon in a Convent in Vietnam, where he was a missionary.
A pagan asks the demons to take a girl from the Convent
The facts of this case occurred between 1924 and 1926, in Phat-Diêm, the then French Protectorate of Tonquim (today, Vietnam), in the convent and novitiate of the Sisters, Lovers of the Holy Cross.
With God’s permission, the demon started to act in this convent. It started with Minh, a pagan, who had fallen in love with a young Catholic, Marie Dien. The girl wanted to be a nun and joined the Congregation of the Sisters Lovers of the Cross.
Upset, Minh went to the famous Buddhist pagoda in Den Song and asked the genies (in truth, the demons) to make the girl abandon her religious vocation to marry him. As a result, the demon started to infest the convent, trying to make life impossible, and trying to force Marie Dien to leave or to get expelled by her companions, who perceived the girl was at the center of this diabolic action.
Spanked by the demon
In spite of all the physical and moral torments from the demon, the young novice not only remained firm in her vocation, but used them for her sanctification.
The first extraordinary manifestations of the demon were attempts at personal infestation: nightly voices, and stones flying through the air, which interrupted the novices’ sleep. At times, Marie Dien was beaten by an invisible hand all night long. This took place in mid-September 1924.
The nuns called Fr. Louis de Cooman, a young missionary to whom the convent was subordinated, and informed him of the events. At first, he did not believe the stories. Nevertheless, he took prudential measures, forbidding the nuns to talk with the mysterious voices or amongst themselves about the strange happenings. He hoped the phenomena was of natural origin or some nervous disturbances of the novices, and would soon cease.
But things became more and more serious. On the night of the 21st to the 22nd of September, while the demon was tormenting Marie Dien – an occurrence witnessed by all the novices – one of the novices took a crucifix and gave it to her to kiss; astonishingly, the image of Christ disappeared and was only found on the following day.
Stones hurled to the roof, amazing noises, ghosts
Almost every night, a mysterious and frightening shower of heavy objects – stones, bricks, sticks, potatoes, empty bottles, etc. – would hit the convent.
More impressive yet were the noises that lasted for two years: bird chirps, horse whinnies, car horns, boat sirens, dilacerating weeping, sardonic laughs, tooth gritting, door knocks, drum beats, etc.
All this made the nights terrible and submitted the young nuns’ nerves to a tremendous trial. Without the help of divine grace, they would not have resisted: either they would have abandoned the convent, or they would have gone crazy.
The demon had told the Sister Marie Dien: “Someone has come to my pagoda (Den Song) to ask me to make you return to the world; I will not leave you in peace until you leave the convent”.
And then there were the ghostly apparitions -- fantastic beings of extraordinary size and terrifying aspect. Sometimes, the demon took on the appearance of their confessor and gave bewildering advices to the young novices. What saved the nuns on these occasions was to fulfill their duties of obedience and report everything to their superiors, which would undo the snares of the demon.
Possession affects some nuns
One night, the demon lifted Marie Dien in the air and said he would take her to her lover’s house. She was carried for 50 feet to the end of the novices’ dormitory, where she was able to kiss a relic of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, which she had with her, and the Evil One dropped her. She fell to the ground, but was uninjured.
Little by little, several novices also started to show strange signs of demonic infestation and even of demonic possession. Showing unusual agility for girls without any physical training, they would jump to the top of branches on very high trees. Or, they would lie down on pencil thin branches, which normally would bend and break under their weight. But nothing would happen. To make them come down, it was necessary to pray intensely and to sprinkle them with holy water.
Another time, one of the novices, in the presence of Fr. Louis de Cooman, jumped up from a stand still position and grabbed the ceiling beams, which were ten feet from the floor. She then lifted herself up with her arms, crossed one of the beams and lay down on it, where she stayed for a long time, finally jumping to the ground. Although the noise of the fall was very strong, she got up laughing and suffered no harm.
The demon spread discord in the community
Another trial – maybe the most terrible of all – was the discord that the demon sowed in the community: the nuns developed a deep antipathy for Marie Dien, who was not expelled from the convent due to her superior’s prudence and perception of the diabolic cause of the infestation. In fact, after a while this antipathy ceased completely and the nuns recognized they had been unfair to Marie Dien.
After spending some time studying the situation, the superiors charged Fr. Louis de Cooman to perform the exorcisms to free the nuns from this demonic infestation or possession.
Exorcism, novenas and penitence
In all, nine novices were exorcised. Each of them had to be dragged by force to the place where the exorcisms were to take place.
Gradually, thanks to the exorcisms and to novenas, personal sacrifices, penitence, etc., the possessions diminished and, in 1926, they ceased completely. The personal and local infestations lasted for a few more years, but they also ceased completely.
Pious life and holy death of Marie Catherine Dien
In spite of all the demon’s efforts, not one of the postulants or novices left the convent; later on, three of them abandoned the religious life, but for other reasons.
As for Sister Marie Catherine Dien, she not only persevered in religious life, but received mystical gifts: colloquies with the Divine Savior, and especial and visible assistance from her patroness, Saint Catherine of Siena. In the last years of her life, she was Mistress of Novices and guided many nuns in their religious life. She died a holy death on August 16, 1944.