Nuns claim they were forced to brand themselves with fire, eat out-of-date food and write orders of obedience in their own blood in Mafia-style initiations at Italian convent
- Italian nun claims she was forced to self-flagellate and eat old food
- She also says she was encouraged to write her vows in blood
- Woman, then 17, says rituals were common at her convent in the 1990s
A former nun has claimed that she was forced to engage in daily self-flagellation and encouraged to write her vows in her own blood while living in a convent in southern Italy.
The woman, now in her 30s, alleges that nuns of Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, which has its headquarters in Frigento, Avellino province in Campania, took part in the rituals in the 1990s.
In addition to the punishing rituals, she says she was fed out-of-date yoghurt and corned beef, which the nuns were told would not affect them if they ate it ‘with true obedience’.
Accusations: A former members of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate has claimed that nuns in the order were forced to perform daily self-flagellation, eat expired food and writer their vows in their own blood
In an interview with an Italian newspaper where she makes the damaging allegations, the former nun shows off a post card with her vows, signed by the head of the order.
She claims the vows were written using in her own blood, on the day of her initiation in 1996, when she was 17 years old.
‘Father Manelli [head of the order] was satisfied that we did this practice because it made our love for God more authentic, this eternal vow with God…made with blood,’ she told Correriere Della Sera.
‘All the practices related to expired food are true – expired yogurt or corned beef for example. We were told that if we ate that food with obedience nothing would have happened… but that’s not true because I had many stomach aches and abdomen pains.’
Claims: Italian newspaper Correriere Della Sera published the claims in November, and have since been contacted by a number of former members of the order making similar claims (stock image)
She also revealed that nuns of the order would ‘flagellated ourselves in the evening during the time it took to say these prayers: five Our Father, five Ave Maria and five Salve Regina’
The newspaper claims to have been contacted by a number of former priests and nuns with the Franciscans of the Immaculate who have told stories of alleged beatings, oppressions, violence and extreme practices such as flagellations, branding with fire, expired food and other abuses.
The allegations first surfaced in November last year, after which a dossier was compiled by the Vatican and handed over to investigators in Avellino.
The dossier reportedly contains a number of testimonies of members and ex-members of the Franciscans of the Immaculate order who back up the claims of the rituals being encouraged.
Father Stefano Maria Manelli, the General Minister of the order who founded it in the early 1970s, has denied all wrongdoing.