Sixteenth Century Poltergeists: Nuns Haunting Nuns?

Although certainly not as detailed or researched as modern paranormal investigations, older and detailed accounts of hauntings do exist. Believe it or not, some of them contain detailed information in the forms of diaries, letters, and other documents. Such are some of the cases investigated by Gauld and Cornell in their classic text. We present here the first of three cases.



Enter if you will the case of the Abby of St. Pierre in 1525. It all begins with a nun being awoken to feeling the sign of the cross on her forehead and a kiss. Upon questioning, it is believed that her encounter was the ghost of a previous nun (Alis) who had run amok from her vows and sold relics to move to the city, where she subsequently died from poverty and disease. According to the nuns, Alis identified herself to the nuns of the abbey using raps and knocks to communicate.

After being instructed by the spirit to find her body, a priest was called in for consultation and many rituals performed. Throughout the process, knocks and raps would resound from various locations in response to the priest and nuns questions. The whole event culminated in the spirit telling the nuns that her 33-year penance in purgatory had been reduced to 33 days in response to the prayers of forgiveness on Alis’s behalf.

I suppose in this case consecrated ground didn’t make much of a difference.



Submitted by: Brian Laythe


Gauld, A., & Cornell, A.D. (1979). Poltergeists. London, England: Routledge & Kegan Paul.


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