NEW YORK — In 2005, a harrowing story began emanating out of Romania about a young woman who had been living at an isolated hilltop monastery, overseen by an eccentric priest and a pack of devoted nuns. She’d been rushed to a hospital suffering from dehydration, exhaustion, and respiratory failure. Doctors discovered abrasions on her wrists and ankles that indicated she’d been restrained, and the local police were sent to investigate.
They were told that the 23-year-old woman had been hearing voices and violently mocking the priest with profane outbursts. Although she’d recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the cleric and his nuns became convinced she was possessed by a demon. As her condition deteriorated, they chained her hands and feet to a wooden board and gagged her with a towel. For the next three days the priest performed an exorcism that would have dire consequences for everyone involved.