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Medieval Nun Vampire? December 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval , trackback

Anyone for a medieval vampire-type legend courtesy of Chris from Haunted Ohio Books? It is true that there is no blood here but the demon comes to the sleeping man who perishes soon after. There is also the whole ‘sex thing’ that suffuses western vampire mythology. Perhaps in the end the birth of the vampire in the western imagination (a very different question from its long existence in Slavic/Romanian lore) comes down to borrowings from composite sources like this with a bit of Victorian prudery/fascination thrown in.

Once when the lay-brothers of our Order were taking midday rest in the dormitory during the summer, the devil, in the shape of a Benedictine nun, went round the beds of all, standing a while by some, and passing haste by others. When she came to a certain lay-brother she bent over him, and putting her arms round his neck, pressed kisses upon his mouth. One of the brethren, a truly pious man, saw this, and how the nun then vanished; and, stupefied, both at the appearance of such a person, and at such an act in such a place, he got up and went to the bed of the lay-brother, whom he found fast asleep indeed, but lying in a fashion that was both immodest and exposed. When the bell for nones rang and the others rose, this lay-brother found himself too ill to get up, and being taken to the infirmary in the evening, died within three days. I think that it was the master of a grange of that monastery who told us this story, saying that it had been told to him under seal of confession by the brother who had seen the vision

(Tempore quodam aestiuo conuersis ordinis nostri in dormitorio suo meridie quiescentibus, diabolus in specie monialis nigri ordinis singulorum lectos circuiuit. Ante quosdam stetit, quosdam cum festinatione praeteriuit. Ueniens ad quendam conuersum, ante illum se inclinauit, et brachiis collum eius stringens tactuque meretricio demulcens, oscula in eius ore defixit. Quod cum quidam frater religiosus uidisset, et illa disparuisset, satis tam de persona quam de opere et in tali loco stupens surrexit, et conuersi lectum adiit, quem quidem dormientem, sed incomposite et impudice nudatumque iacentem inuenit. Ceteris ad signum nonae surgentibus, ille grauem se sentiens, surgere non potuit, et ad uesperam in infirmitorium ductus, infra triduum uitam finiuit. Haec apud nos eiusdem ut puto loci grangiarius recitauit, asserens sibi dictum ab eodem conuerso qui uidit uisionem, sub typo confessionis.)

Note that this passage appears in Diagologue of Miracles by Cesarius of Heisterbach and is entitled ‘Also of a lay-brother, who, when asleep in the middle of the day, was embraced by a demon under the appearance of a nun, and died within three days.’ (Item de conuerso, quem diabolus in specie monialis meridie dormientem, intra triduum exstinxit.) (33) Thanks again to Chris!

Any other medieval vampires? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com