Would you watch a movie about a devilish lesbian nun?
Paul Verhoeven announced last April that his new movie will be about Benedetta Carlini, a young nun from 17th century Tuscany. Titled Blessed Virgin, the movie is being touted as “the lesbian nun film.”
Known for movies like Basic Instinct, Show Girls, and Starship Troopers, director Paul Verhoeven– being Paul Verhoeven– should clue you in that his new movie probably won’t be sympathetic to the LGBT community.
The story behind the movie is about a young nun’s religious visions, supposed diabolic possessions, and her illicit, sexual relationship with another nun.
Lesbian nun movie based on a book
Paul Verhoeven’s film is based on Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, a 1986 book written by Judith C. Brown.
During a research on economic history and the Medici rule, Brown stumbled upon these archives about Sister Benedetta, which consists of inquests that happened from 1619 to 1623.
Praised in the beginning for having religious visions, stigmata, and speaking in the voice of Jesus, Benedetta was soon declared a fraud by the Catholic Church and having faked all of her miracles.
The lesbian nun: Who is Sister Benedetta?
Sister Benedetta, from an Apennine mountain village in Italy, was promised at birth by her father to enter the convent.
This was an old custom for Italians, especially from the rural villages, to bring their daughters to the convent as this was more economical than dowries required in marriages.
At the young age of nine, she entered the new convent Theatines.
A little background on Italian convents during that period: the older convents– which attracted wealthier families and had more outspoken, modern girls– were less strict as compared to the new convents that followed older customs of the church.
Because of this, these convents also had a tendency to be superstitious, religiously speaking.
The lesbian nun’s spiritual gift
Sister Benedetta came to importance because of her mystical gift, i.e. supposedly where she could see heavenly visions, go on trances, and was able to talk using the voice of angels and Jesus.
In some instances, she would look like a young, handsome man to other sisters in the convent and would have wounds on her hands, feet, side, and head known as stigmata (the places of Jesus’ wounds when he died).
With this “power,” she grew into power within the convent thanks to her leadership and she soon became the abbess (or the head of the convent).
Naturally, the convent was pushing for Sister Benedetta to be recognized by the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately for her, the church had progressed from a period of personal mysticism bordering on superstition to a time where they preferred handling these things with a more critical and scientific eye.
The fall of the lesbian nun
Sister Benedetta’s fall came after she performed a wedding ceremony with Christ as her bridegroom.
Using Jesus’ voice, she/he spoke of the supremacy of Benedetta, and commanded that they make her “empress of all the nuns.”
She also ordered that the Grand Duke of Tuscany be made aware of her superiority.
As you might have guessed, things went badly for the nun when complaints about her started pouring in– from being too strict to the rumors that the stigmata was self-inflicted.
Soon, the young nun who was tasked to assist Sister Benedetta came forward with a confession: she had been having an erotic relationship with the abbess while Benedetta was possessed by a handsome young angel named Splenditello.
Around this time, the church declared Sister Benedetta a fake and called her miracles as coming from the devil.
That’s the story of the lesbian nun according to Brown. But let’s see Paul Verhoeven will treat this story, given his Basic Instinct background.