Father Louis Gaufridi (also spelled Ludovico Gaufridi) was a French Roman Catholic priest and a central figure in a famous witchcraft trial that took place in the 17th century. This trial, known as the “Aix-en-Provence Possessions,” was one of the most notable cases of alleged demonic possession and witchcraft in France during that period.
In the early 17th century, a series of bizarre and unexplained events occurred in the town of Aix-en-Provence, located in what is now southeastern France. Several nuns from the Ursuline convent in Aix claimed to be possessed by demons and exhibited signs of hysteria, fits, and bizarre behavior. These nuns accused Father Gaufridi, a local priest, of being a witch and the one responsible for their demonic possession.
The nuns’ accusations against Father Gaufridi were detailed and damning. They claimed that he had seduced them into participating in dark rituals and acts of witchcraft, including sexual acts with demons. These accusations sent shockwaves through the community and led to the arrest and trial of Father Gaufridi.
Father Louis Gaufridi’s trial took place in 1611. It was a sensational and highly publicized event, drawing significant attention from the church, the legal authorities, and the public. The trial was conducted by the local ecclesiastical and secular courts.
During the trial, Father Gaufridi initially confessed to the accusations under duress and torture. He later recanted his confession, claiming that it had been made under extreme physical and psychological pressure. Despite his recantation, he was found guilty of witchcraft and heresy.
Father Louis Gaufridi was sentenced to death by burning at the stake, a common punishment for accused witches during this period. He was executed in Aix-en-Provence in 1611.
The Aix-en-Provence Possessions and the trial of Father Gaufridi remain a significant historical example of the hysteria and fear surrounding witchcraft in the early modern period. It is now widely recognized that the events and accusations in the case were likely the result of mass hysteria, religious fervor, and social pressures rather than genuine demonic possession or witchcraft.
In more recent times, scholars and historians have reevaluated cases like the Aix-en-Provence Possessions in light of our modern understanding of psychology and social dynamics, shedding new light on the events and the individuals involved, including Father Louis Gaufridi.