Pages Navigation Menu

Author and journalist

The Witch the Priest & the Poltergeist – Synopsis

I say that the noises seemed to me so extraordinary that I would vouch for them with my blood. I could not wait to leave that horrible place.

– statement of Father Gaetan Leroux at trial, 1851

The story of the 1851 Cideville witch trial lies buried in history. A male witch named Thorel Felix, angered at the imprisonment of his coven leader, pronounced a hex on two adolescent boys boarding with Father Jean Lariat in the tiny parish of Cideville, France. The boys were fine, if frightened. But within the month strange noises began to erupt in Lariat’s parsonage. He forced Felix to apologize to the boys, but the noises only grew louder. A local seigneur, Robert de Saint Martin, devised experiments to determine the source of the poltergeist. A well-known occultist and author, the Marquis dI say that the noises seemed to me so extraordinary that I would vouch for them with my blood. I could not wait to leave that horrible place. – statement of Father Gaetan Leroux at trial, 1851 The story of the 1851 Cideville witch trial lies buried in history. A male witch named Thorel Felix, angered at the imprisonment of his coven leader, pronounced a hex on two adolescent boys boarding with Father Jean Lariat in the tiny parish of Cideville, France. The boys were fine, if frightened. But within the month strange noises began to erupt in Lariat’s parsonage. He forced Felix to apologize to the boys, but the noises only grew louder. A local seigneur, Robert de Saint Martin, devised experiments to determine the source of the poltergeist. A well-known occultist and author, the Marquis de Foursin, came to stay at the parsonage and performed seances, without success. Finally Father Lariat, half-crazed by the poltergeist’s relentless noise, went to the farm where Thorel worked as a shepherd and beat the witch nearly senseless. But not quite. Thorel Felix rose to his feet and pronounced on Lariat the most modern of hexes: “I sue you. I sue you for slander and assault.” What followed is probably the only witch trial in history where a witch was the plaintiff, not the defendant. The Priest, the Witch and the Poltergeist is a novel based on the compelling Cideville story that brings to life both the battle between Felix and Lariat and the romance of the seigneury maid, Eve Thérigny, who falls in love with Felix’s subversive courage. And it finds the causes of the poltergeist are stranger than anyone living in France during the Industrial Revolution could foresee. In 1851 the quiet village of Cideville, eighty miles northwest of Paris, was the site of a witch trial. Almost by definition, such events tend to be more than a trifle bizarre. But this one was even stranger than most. – Mysteries of the Unknown, Time-Life Books, 1987e Foursin, came to stay at the parsonage and performed seances, without success. Finally Father Lariat, half-crazed by the poltergeist’s relentless noise, went to the farm where Thorel worked as a shepherd and beat the witch nearly senseless. But not quite. Thorel Felix rose to his feet and pronounced on Lariat the most modern of hexes: “I sue you. I sue you for slander and assault.” What followed is probably the only witch trial in history where a witch was the plaintiff, not the defendant. The Priest, the Witch and the Poltergeist is a novel based on the compelling Cideville story that brings to life both the battle between Felix and Lariat and the romance of the seigneury maid, Eve Thérigny, who falls in love with Felix’s subversive courage. And it finds the causes of the poltergeist are stranger than anyone living in France during the Industrial Revolution could foresee.

In 1851 the quiet village of Cideville, eighty miles northwest of Paris, was the site of a witch trial. Almost by definition, such events tend to be more than a trifle bizarre. But this one was even stranger than most.

– Mysteries of the Unknown, Time-Life Books, 1987