Catherine Cadière

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The seduction of Catherine Cadière by the jesuit Jean-Baptiste Girard. Contemporary engraving shows the devil guiding the jesuit.

Catherine Cadière, or Marie-Catherine Cadière, (12 November 1709 in Toulon, year of death unknown), was an alleged French witch. The trial of Catherine Cadiére in 1731 is one of the most famous of its kind in French history, and have been referred to many times in literature, notably in the pornographic novel Thérèse philosophe.

Background[edit]

Catherine Cadière was born to a merchant, whose health was ruined by the plague in 1720, and lived under the guardianship of her mother and brothers. She was interested in mysticism and religion, and became deeply influenced by the Jesuit Jean-Baptiste Girard (1680–1733), whom she met in 1728. She was encouraged by Girard in the belief that she suffered from holy convulsions and saintly stigmata and spiritual visions, which Girard presented as the symptoms of a saint. He visited her often and possibly abused her sexually. Her emotional state during these experiences was described as hysterical.

Trial[edit]

In June 1730, Girard was investigated for abuse and corruption, and she was placed in a convent. She was released in September 1730. The case was transferred to the court of Aix-en-Provence. Catherine was first placed in a convent in Toulon and then taken to a convent in Aix for the trial. She was defended by Chaudon. The case drew enormous attention from the whole of France, and Catherine was supported by parliamentarians, noblewomen, and the public in Toulon and Aix. The case was seen as a case against the Jesuit order, and Catherine was seen as a symbol of the corruption of the Jesuits.

Verdict[edit]

On 11 September 1731, Catherine Cadiére was sentenced to death, but on 10 October 1731, she was declared innocent. Her acquittal and release was greeted with great rejoicing from the public. She was turned over to her mother, who was to remove her to prevent chaos, so that civil order could be restored. However, the fate of Catherine Cadiére after this is unknown, and considered to be mysterious.

References[edit]

  • This article is a translation of its equivalent on French Wikipedia
  • A modern treatment in English: Mita Choudhury, The Wanton Jesuit and the Wayward Saint. A Tale of Sex, Religion and Politics in 18th-Century France (Penn State UP, 2015)