'Possessed' nun crucified after row with priest

By Kate Connolly in Berlin
(Filed: 20/06/2005)

A Romanian Orthodox priest who faces a murder charge after ordering the crucifixion of a young nun because she was "possessed by the devil" was unrepentant as he conducted a funeral mass for his alleged victim.

Father Daniel Corogeanu, 29, said that the nun had been "possessed by the devil" and was "beyond salvation" in life.

He claimed that from the religious point of view, the crucifixion of Maricica Irina Cornici, 23, was "entirely justified", but admitted that he faced excommunication as well as prosecution, and was seeking a "good lawyer."

The nun was found dead last Wednesday, gagged and chained to a cross, after nuns from her order, the Holy Trinity, called for an ambulance in the remote mountain village of Tanacu in north-eastern Romania.

During a short funeral service at the weekend attended by 13 nuns who showed no emotion, Father Corogeanu said: "God has performed a miracle for her, finally Irina is delivered from evil."

Romanian reporters present at the ceremony said strangle marks were clearly visible on the corpse, which lay in an open casket.

Claps of thunder were heard as the coffin was lowered into the ground, a sign "that the will of God has been done", Father Corogeanu said.

Prosecutors said they had charged the priest and four nuns from the order with imprisonment leading to death, after questioning all 24 resident nuns.

For four days prior to her crucifixion, Sister Irina had been kept locked up with no food or water.

She was imprisoned after having an argument with the priest during Sunday mass, according to locals.

Church authorities said Father Corogeanu was banned from carrying out further duties pending an investigation and might face excommunication.

The monastery would be closed if the accused were found guilty, a bishop said.

A police spokesman claimed that during questioning the accused said Sister Irina had been possessed and needed to be exorcised.

They tied her to the cross after she had "protested violently", Mrs Straub said.

The Holy Trinity is located in one of Romania's most remote and poorest mountain dwellings, and has no electricity or running water.

Sister Irina joined the order three months ago, after visiting a friend who lived there.

According to medical reports she had been treated for schizophrenia.


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