Jul 19, 2014

Romanian priest jailed for killing young nun who was CRUCIFIED during botched exorcism ritual

Dan Bloom
July 15, 2014

  • Father Daniel Corogeanu was jailed for seven years after ritual killed nun, 23
  • She was strapped to a cross and left without food or water for five days
  • He promised to build a monastery in her memory when he was released
  • But he was hounded out of its proposed base in Zapodeni, eastern Romania
  • He is now hidden in remote wooden hut and refuses to leave, an official said
  • The disturbing story inspired Cannes prize-winning film Beyond the Hills

A priest who was jailed for killing a 23-year-old nun in a botched exorcism has been chased out of his village and forced to live in a remote forest hut.

Father Daniel Corogeanu, 33, left Sister Irina Cornici bound, gagged, strapped to a cross and without food or water for five days at an isolated monastery in Romania.

Corogeanu, whose crime inspired a Cannes prize-winning film, was jailed for seven years in 2005 and vowed to build a monastery in her memory when he was released.

But when he arrived at the site of his proposed centre, the eastern commune of Zapodeni, furious villagers reportedly chased him into hiding.

A local council official said the priest has now set up home in a wooden hut in the forest, which he refuses to leave.

Corogeanu was jailed in 2005 along with four other nuns who helped him with the ritual at the Tanacu monastery in eastern Romania.

They said they were just trying to help Cornici but a court in the northeast city of Vaslui convicted the priest and nuns of holding her captive, resulting in her death.

Nun Nicoleta Arcalianu was sentenced to eight years in prison, and the other three - Adina Cepraga, Elena Otel and Simona Bardanas - received five-year sentences.

Dozens of Corogeanu's supporters packed the courtroom and prayed for the priest, with several bursting into tears when the verdict was announced.

Romania's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Corogeanu against his conviction.

The crime was a national scandal for the Romanian Orthodox Church, which excommunicated the priest and promised reforms, including psychological tests for those seeking to enter monasteries.

But the outcome of the case is still shrouded in mystery and doubt, despite the conviction.

There are allegations that the court had not properly considered the suggestion that the nun might have died from an adrenaline overdose injected by paramedics.

Coroner Dan Gheorghiu admitted recently that the was some credence to the theory, saying: 'I was part of the team who handled the exhumation of the nun's body.

'It was concluded that the woman died of an overdose of adrenaline. Don't ask me, I don't know why the judges did not take that into account.'

It also emerged after her death that Cornici had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic and her 'possession' was unlikely to be more than a series of schizophrenic episodes.

At the time Father Corogeanu told the court: 'I consider myself not guilty because Irina Conrici's death was not down to the fact that we kept her locked up.

'We tied her up because she kept hitting and harming herself and we would have found her dead in her room eventually.

'I admit I tied her up and stuck a towel in her mouth and kept her like this for five days.

'I admit that I used to cover her mouth with tape while she took part in daily mass, but only because I did not want her to disturb the service.

'Four nuns helped me tie her up and guarded Irina for days. They tried to give her food and water but she refused. All she accepted was holy water. This was the best solution for her because she had to recover from her constant agitation.'

He added: 'Had I not called the ambulance, she would have been well now. It was the last stage of her exorcism and it is normal that a person possessed by demons faints when all the prayers end. She was supposed to recover after that.'

The death inspired the screenplay for the film Beyond the Hills, a Cannes and Palme d'Or award winning film by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

In 1999 the Vatican issued its first new guidelines since 1614 for driving out devils, which urged priests to take modern psychiatry into account in deciding who should be exorcised.

And earlier this month the Papacy gave its blessing to exorcisms as a standard practice in the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis has emphasised that Satan exists and was previously thought to support exorcisms.

Last year he appeared to cast out a demon from a wheelchair bound man who said he was possessed by the devil.