Benedetta Carlini: biography
Full nameBenedetta Carlini
Kind of activityItalian renaissance nun
Marital statusin relationship
Social networks

Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta Carlini, a Catholic nun who was sentenced to life imprisonment for intercourse with a spirit that appeared to her in the form of a young attractive man, obsession, fraud and, as follows from Judy Brown’s book, for a criminal sexual relationship with another nun.

Benedetta Carlini: biography

Until 1986, the name of a nun who lived in Italy in the 17th century was known only to historians and researchers of mystical phenomena. One such researcher was Judith Brown, a Renaissance scholar who is also considered a pioneer in the study of the history of sexuality. Brown became interested in the story of Benedetta Carlini, she first discovered a mention of her in the archives of Florence, and after several years of work wrote a book that became a sensation, but caused an uproar in the Vatican.

According to Professor Brown’s research, Benedetta Carlini was born in 1591 in an Apennine village, into a peasant family, and, as the custom of the time demanded, at the age of 9 she was sent to the monastery of the young Order of Theatines. The sources from which Professor Brown wrote The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy mention the trial of Benedetta, who, by the age of thirty, managed to gain the respect of other nuns because of her hard work and skill as an embroiderer, and their reverence for for the gift of speaking with angelic voices. What exactly was the reason for the investigation, during which Benedetta was accused of intercourse with the devil, of possession and of sexual intercourse with a nun named Bartholomea, is not known for certain. Brown insists on the version that Benedetta, who publicly fell into religious ecstasy, during which stigmata appeared on her body, became a victim of the envy of other nuns who did not receive these holy marks. The professor also found out that the reason for the investigation was a denunciation that came to the higher clergy after the marriage ceremony that Carlini held in the walls of the monastery, when she acted as the bride of Jesus himself. In front of the astonished sisters, Benedetta spoke with the voice of Christ, she announced her future greatness and called on the nuns, calling herself their Empress, to unconditional submission.

Benedetta Carlini real history

The investigation into the case of Benedetta, who, according to some sources, became the abbess of the monastery in the city of Pesha by 1617, lasted several years, and was documented. According to the Vatican’s senior officials, of course, interested in recognizing Brown’s book not as a real story, but as fiction, Carlini’s love affair with Sister Bartholomea is speculation. In favor of the thesis of the holy fathers of the Catholic Church, studies conducted by Ann Matter, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, who studied the life history of another self-proclaimed seer, who also lived in the 17th century, speak in favor of the thesis of the holy fathers of the Catholic Church. Matter insists that the scenes of the seduction of Sister Bartholomea mentioned in the Florentine documents are nothing but a slander of the latter. In addition, the word seduction in a religious context has a completely different meaning than the one that has the usual meaning for everyone, and can be understood more broadly than just the process of persuading someone to have sexual intercourse. Intercourse with the spirit, which Carlini called Splenditello, which in Italian can be translated as Sparkling, or Magnificent, according to Matter, is also not a fact, but delusional fantasies or, more likely, a confession that a nun gave under torture.

Benedetta Carlini Death

In addition to intercourse with the devil, possession and sexual intercourse with Sister Bartolomea, Carlini was also accused of fraud. According to investigators, she herself inflicted wounds that she passed off as stigmata. The nun’s transgressions were considered so serious that she was sentenced to life imprisonment within the walls of the monastery where she had once been abbess, and in which she died in 1661 at the age of seventy. In custody, Benedetta lived for almost 35 years, and, most likely, her death was caused by natural causes.

Benedetta Carlin lover

A film about Benedetta Carlini

In 2016, Paul Verhoeven, who excited the world in 1973 with the erotic psychodrama Turkish Delights, in which the then-unknown Rutger Hauer played the main role, and in 1992 made the thriller Basic Instinct, decided to make a film about the story of Benedetta. The shooting of the painting “The Holy Virgin” was completed by the master by 2018, the premiere is expected in 2020.

The role of the nun agreed to be played by the Belgian actress Virginie Efira, whom Russian moviegoers could see in the films She, Loner and Caprice. The legendary Charlotte Rampling and Lambert Wilson also took part in the film. The director himself in an interview speaks of his film as a love story that arose between two young women, whose life took place within the walls of a monastery. On the Internet, you can find photos from the filming of the picture, however, it is not possible to judge the similarity between Virginie Efira and her heroine, because not a single portrait of Benedetta Carlini has survived, even if one existed at all.

Benedetta Carlin film

At the beginning of 2020, The Holy Maiden was named among the most anticipated premieres, it will undoubtedly appeal to all fans of Paul Verhoeven, and those who like to watch films based on real events.